Echoing A Message of Humanity and Sustainability: Echo Global Farms and Nursery
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
Where can you learn to grow food anywhere in the world? One of my favourite places to visit in SWFL, where I can unwind, go for an educational stroll, get grounded, educated and reminded of my blessings, is at the Echo Global Farm in North Fort Myers, FL.
Founded in 1981, Echo is a faith-based, non-profit organization whose mission is to end world hunger. Echo’s global farm has seven different settings that represent the myriad of farming conditions around the world, to include the rainforest, monsoon areas and arid locations.
Using the knowledge gleaned from their demonstration and experimental working farm, Echo discovers practical and real life solutions, such as effective crops (tilapia, chaya, katuk), innovative technology and techniques (such as raised beds, zai holes and bio gas digesters), that are effective for those conditions. Echo empowers farmers in third world countries with education and hands on training, agricultural technology knowledge and support.
By adopting a variety of farming techniques, learning from and sharing ideas and experiences with farmers around the world and providing a support network to continue sharing this information, Echo has designed a dynamic network that provides a sustainable solution to end hunger and malnutrition.
The enlightening, non-strenuous two and a half hour walking tour of the working farm provided education on farming technique and appropriate technology (making use of what you have) as well as snacking opportunities on the foliage (such as katuk, lagos spinach and moringa), and fruit (peanut butter and miracle fruit) growing on the farm. Also growing on this beautiful property were papaya, a cinnamon tree (the bark gives us cinammon), sapote and sapodilla, bananas and five varieties of avocado.
Our sweet and earnest volunteer docent also pointed out plants that created renewable and sustainable natural solutions for daily living. These included: the sisal plant that is used to create the sisal fiber which is used in rugs, baskets and other items that seagrass and jute are also used for); neem trees (which are called "nature's pharmacy" because of its healing properties) and, the pinecone ginger flower aka the 'shampoo flower' which when gently squeezed, produces a clear gel-liquid that can be used to cleanse your hair. It was a bit sticky, but smelled wonderfully fragrant.
My container-grown-jungle began a year ago, after a visit to Echo farm, the nursery and bookstore. Now, most of the herbs, vegetables and leafy greens come from my own garden. Anyone interested in becoming sustainable, learning about innovative farming techniques - some that can easily be implemented in your home (like the Chapin drip irrigation or the light bulb made from a liter bottle), as well as marveling in the miracle of producing food and tasting the fruit of the earth, this tour won’t disappoint. I didn't even mention the animals - pigs, sheep, goats, chicken and ducks, oh my!
I purchased an annual pass for $32 because I discovered that every tour have provides me new information, depending on the specialty of the guide, what the current intern is working on and the bounty at that time of the year. The book and gift store is a wonderful place to buy unique, practical, fair trade items and further support this cause.
Whether you live in SWFL or are planning a visit here, ECHO is a worthy addition to your itinerary.