Oct 032014

Recently an email landed in my inbox from a gentleman named Sam. I clicked it open and the first line was a question.

Have you heard of Food Patriots?

In light of it being non-GMO month, I was intrigued by the name and read more.

This story is about a Midwestern mom, Jennifer, whose son became really sick from contaminated chicken. This prompted her to start asking questions about our food system.

Talk about an interesting parallel to my own life, and the lives of so many of us in the US. My daughter had major food allergies which was the reason I stopped to ask that one little question…..


Watching the family’s food journey was both funny and enlightening. What started from a sickness led to a backyard garden, to adventures with a chicken coop and a visit to those trying to bring back an urban version of the Victory Garden.

USDA Victory Garden messages flashed by on the screen encouraging people to do unheard of activities such as growing a garden, canning and (gasp!) owning chicken coops.

Imagine a USDA ad that said “Save Money the Easy Way, Grow a Garden. It’s Thrifty! It’s Patriotic! Plant Today!”

My how things have changed from the old days.

Now we get “Where’s the Beef?”, and “Got Milk?” (All packed with hormones and antibiotics.)

Because of current standard agricultural practices, and indirectly, governmental subsidies, we are battling what the Midwestern Mom’s son battled. Increasing instances of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Not only are we prescribed antibiotics like candy, they are fed to our cows, pigs and chickens to enable them to live in unsanitary conditions that would cause any normal animal to perish.  Her son almost died from this. Thankfully for all of us he was a strong football player and lived to tell the tale.

Just last week my friend’s young son also was diagnosed with an antibiotic resistant strain of Staph and when I messaged her about it, she said she knew of four others in the past six months. SCARY. But what can we do about it?

The message throughout the movie is one of acceptance that change is not easy, but every little bit counts. Event 10% change.

Here is what this looks like – instead of getting a Coke, Fries and Burger, forgo the coke and get water. Instead of conventional meat, get grass fed, organic meat (or better yet, try forgoing meat all together and eat more plant based meals….but I don’t want to get ahead of myself here.)

Get out there and garden, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Another theme through the movie is sense of community this builds. You will always find likeminded people that care and that want to do good things.

Not shockingly, when they approached the government with their story they were met with apathy and indifference. Even at their town level, the officials debated on whether chicken coops would bring down already low property values and if they allowed chickens they would be forced to allow all sorts of crazy farm animals. Like goats.

How can one person, making 10% change help?

If everyone buys 10% more local, fresh and organic we can make some major changes.  We are voting with our forks. It is time to DEMAND change. If the public school system continues to be indifferent to our children, it is up to US to take charge and vote. We get three votes a day. Talk about food and the state of food, but don’t force it. Enjoy the change. Savor it.

As Jennifer said, it’s “The Pleasure of doing the right thing.”

 In the end, after viewing the movie, I realized that the gentleman that sent me the original email, Sam, is the very son of the Midwestern mom that survived to tell this tale. Kudos to you Sam, and thank you for allowing me to promote your movement.

At this time, Food Patriots is available for private screenings – click here for the details.

(FREE Online Screening for Food Day Oct 23rd, 2014! Join Here!)

Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens


May 292014

Created just for you – Cleansing Life Classes! Let me tell you a little story about how these came about and share a video of what they are.

Cleansing Life

Cleansing Life

(Beautiful Photo Source)

See all the info here and a yummy cinnamon bronzer recipe at the Cleansing Life Page

I think back to when my daughter was born. Her brand new skin soaking up everything she came in contact with.

Diligently I cleaned the bath tub with Tilex, Comet, Clorox or other cleaning products – thinking that I needed to keep germs away from her.


Little did I know, many cleaning products contain chemicals such as chloroform, formaldehyde and benzene – linked to reproductive disorders, asthma, and even cancer, and the likelihood of completely rinsing these toxins away is very low. My daughter was then soaking in a warm bath – essentially absorbing any of the remaining toxins like a sponge.



The next time I cleaned, I stepped into the shower and inhaled that clean smell, thinking it smelled….clean, right?

Have you heard how many toxins we absorb through our feet? Any cleaning chemicals that the shower was rinsing down the drain was ending up right at my feet and I was breathing in the fumes.

Later at the grocery store I remember standing in the cleaning product aisle at the grocery. Before turning down the aisle I could already smell the chemicals.  When I stood there, staring at the dozens of options, a second fact hit me (other than almost passing out from the fumes). The price. Have you seen the prices of cleaning products nowadays? Outrageous!

And finally, the environmental impacts of these toxins are vast.
I just got back from a trip to Manatee Springs State Park last weekend. There had been some flooding so there was no swimming allowed. This spring was literally black with grunge. We were allowed to go kayaking and the sludge stuck to the kayaks when we got out took 20 minutes to scrub.  The rangers said the grunge was from pesticides, fertilizers, toxic cleaning products, oils etc. that leeched into the waterway.



According to the EPA, “Ingredients containing phosphorus or nitrogen can contribute to nutrient-loading in water bodies, leading to adverse effects on water quality.”

I started researching. As I did so, I became more and more upset – wondering how can these toxins be allowed into our grocery stores? Not just cleaning products, but beauty products with coal tar, somatic cells in dairy, toxins in sunscreen, formaldehyde in new carpet and furniture….the list goes on and on. When I found out what many of these toxins do in our body I decided something has to be done. The current state is unacceptable.

I furthered my research for months and months, compiling the information took even longer. I edited and experimented and found the answer. Cleansing Life Classes!

You may have seen my simple guide to organic essential oils….that was one of the top read posts ever on my blog.
There is a huge need for this.

Let’s do this! Learn the realities! Become outraged! Join my crusade against companies lining their pockets by taking the easy and cheap way out and let’s make the world better for our kids and future generations.

See all the info here and the recipe at the Cleansing Life Page

Feb 082013

Whether you are already a CSA member of KyV Farm or were thinking of trying it – now is the time to register for a spring share!


Full Share – 6 deliveries at $33.34 per bag
Starting last week of April until 1st week of June. (6 weeks)
Vegetables Full Share: Beautiful bag of the farm’s best harvest in
between 7-9 Kinds of vegetables. Each week, just go to your chosen
drop off or pick up site, check your name off the list, grab your
bag, and go. ($200.04/6 weeks)

Half Share – 3 deliveries at $33.34 per bag
Vegetables Half Share: Beautiful bag of the farm’s best harvest in between 7-9 Kinds of vegetables, full share pick up or drop off every other week, just go to your chosen drop off or pick up site, check your name off the list, grab your bag, and go. ($100.02/ 3 weeks); startiing last week of April until 1st week of June.(every other week)
For Drop Off Location (Orange Park, Fleming Island and St. Augustine): Please choose Group B


What is a CSA?

A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest. CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season, and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower.

Members help pay for seeds, water, equipment maintenance, labor, etc. In return, the farm provides, to the best of its ability, a healthy supply of seasonal fresh produce throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and those who grow it.

This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers, growers and community members helps create an economically stable farm operation in which members are assured the highest quality produce, often at below retail prices. In return, farmers and growers are guaranteed a reliable market for a diverse selection of crops. 

With the variety of veggies you will be able to make delicious and healthy recipes like one of my all time favorites here – the sweet, salty and nutty veggie saute.

Sweet Salty Veggie Saute

Sweet Salty Veggie Saute

See the recipe here!

I made a few changes by using sunflower seed butter instead of almond butter, sunflower seeds instead of cashews and some brown rice instead of the quinoa this time. There are so many varieties of this same dish – I want to make them all! Use ANY veggie and any nut or seed butter. Peanut butter would be delicious too!

The veggies I used included:
Bok Choy
Green Onions

Sweet Salty Veggie Saute

Sweet Salty Veggie Saute

Support your local farms and businesses – Eat Local!

 Posted by at 4:43 pm
Jan 102013

To you, my dear friends,

For the past few years, my passion for volunteering has revolved around my CSA, KyV Farm.  One of the main reasons I got involved was because of the food allergies my daughter has.

Crazy about our CSA at KyV

Crazy about our CSA at KyV

Under the age of one, we thankfully found out she has allergies to wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, peanuts, cod fish, red 40 and other dyes to name a few. Secondly I noted that many of the other children around her have food allergies that cause severe eczema and psoriasis to swelling and anaphylaxis where the throat can swell shut and possibly cause death.  This did not happen when my generation was growing up, so why is it so prevalent now? When I spoke with the food researchers at a local natural food store they said the studies and statistics show that these food allergies increased in direct correlation with the genetic modification and processing of foods and we can combat this by buying whole, organic (and local!) foods.

Romanesco Cauliflower from KyV

Romanesco Cauliflower from KyV

The BEST way to do this is through an organic CSA/Farm Share.  This is where you support a local farm by buying a “share” of the crop before the start of the growing season.  The farmer can then use the funds to run the farm through the year and you get to enjoy the bounty, but also to share in some of the risk.

Beautiful Brussels from KyV

Beautiful Brussels from KyV

I have written recipes, organized events and created a drop-off at my company -through this process Vivian, Francisco and their family at KyV Farm have become like my family.  Vivian was a salon owner in Puerto Rico before coming to the US and now even cuts my hair and my daughter’s hair (a one stop shop for veggies and a haircut!). Many times I’ve been welcomed into their home for food and laughs and they have been kind enough to promote my blog and business.  There are so many reasons to get to know a local farmer in your area – not only for the nourishment of your body and for the health and well-being of your family, but for the sense of community.  Together we can all make a difference by sharing information with others – one step at a time.

KyV farm is asking for support in an old fashioned Barn Raising and I’m asking – no matter how far away you are – for your help!  Any donation to help this worthy cause will help this worthy cause of helping farmers, promoting health and, by not using pesticides and fertilizers, save the environment.  Please see the details below for more information!


“Barn Raising” – Donate Now

In the 18th and 19th centuries, barns were an absolute necessity for the average farmer,
providing a place to house animals and store food, supplies and tools. But barns were also very
expensive structures to build that required more labor by more hands than a single farm family could
provide. And so the tradition of the community barn raising began. An entire community would get
together to help one of its member families build their barn. Only those with the most specialized skills
might be paid in some way, but generally everyone volunteered for the job. The point was to help one’s
fellow man, but everyone benefited in the end. Families traded for and bought goods from one another,
so it wasn’t good for any part of that system to break down. A sense of community was fostered as
whole villages gathered for up to several days of work, socializing and communal meals. Plus, those
same barns, though owned after the raising by the individual farmer, were often used for community
events such as dances and meetings.
Though traditional barn raising occurs now only in certain segments of society, modern versions
of the concept are still employed, most typically when a community raises money together for a big
project. Well, we would like to bring the traditional and the modern together within our KYV family.
Your farm needs a good old-fashioned barn, which is still a large and costly structure, but which is
essential for our growing community.
What we are planning is a 30-by-40-foot structure located right behind the current pickup shed
on Borrow Pit Road. There will be a large, enclosed, certified commercial kitchen at one end. The rest of
the barn will be an open area that will include the walk-in cooler and a small bathroom. The large open
part of the barn will allow us to have more space for pickups. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve gone from
using just the inside of the little shed to using the inside and the porch, and now that isn’t even big
enough. We also envision using the open area for cooking demonstrations and classes by local chefs,
tastings, workshops and more.
The certified kitchen will be used for workshops, canning and activities. But here’s the best part
for you: Our members will be able to access the certified kitchen too! This means that on pickup days,
you can bring your own containers and prep your share right then and there. You can wash, peel and
chop till your heart’s content, and then leave the scraps for compost or chicken feed. We’ve had many,
many members say that they wish they could do all of that before they took their veggies home, and we
think this will meet that need. Having access to the kitchen at the farm also means that you’ll be able to
can whatever items you can’t use right away. Think of all those pounds and pounds of beans and
potatoes you’ve harvested at potlucks past. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a place to prepare and can
all of that without having to turn your own kitchen into a mini-factory? Some of our members have even
pointed out that they would love to prepare their own goodies for sale at markets and other venues, but
that some of those places require that food be prepared in a certified kitchen. With this barn, our foodcrafting
members can have that opportunity! We are planning for our certified kitchen to have a large
stove, a refrigerator and plenty of counter space.
Here’s where the KYV community comes in. Remember the part about barns still being costly
structures? We have gotten one quote so far of $10,000 just for the barn. Of course, we are going to get
other quotes and see where we might be able to reduce some of the cost. The cost of the certified kitchen
will depend on what kinds of deals we can find on restaurant equipment. Meanwhile, we will be doing a
kind of internal “Kickstarter” campaign to raise our barn. Through the Donate Now” tab at
www.kyvfarm.com, members will be able to donate toward this project the same as you can donate right
now to the Feed-a-Family program.
Thank you, in advance, for your support in raising a barn that we think will benefit our entire
KYV community. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of this project! And, please, if you
have any questions (or suggestions on fundraising for us), don’t hesitate to contact us.

Organic Vegetables & Specialty Citrus
Community Supported Agriculture Wholesale Distribution
Francisco Arroyo & Vivian Bayona
1670 Borrow Pit Rd. Switzerland, FL 32259
Cell: (787) 232-7359 or (787) 232-2234
www.kyvfarm.com email: info@kyvfarm.com

 Posted by at 8:39 pm
Oct 292012

Yesterday kicked off the first event of the new CSA farm season at KYV Farm.  It was a crisp, clear and PERFECT day for a potluck, hayrides and bean picking.  We even got to pull a few sweet potatoes!

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Join a CSA!  www.kyvfarm.com

(p.s. If anyone there would like copies of the photos – please contact me at chefdawn(at)hotmail(dot)com. I could not get all the photos uploaded to if I took one of you and it is not on here, shoot me a request!)

 Posted by at 11:19 am
Sep 242012

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Sauce and Squash Blossoms

What do you do with squash blossoms?

This was the question I heard over and over from customers at the KyV Farm tent set up at the St Johns Farmers Market at Alpine Grove Park last Saturday.  There are many fried and stuffed recipes on the internet so here is a unique one that showcases the fresh blossoms with their sweet, nutty flavor.  They create a beautiful presentation and taste without adding lots of calories – only about five per cup.

The St Johns farmers market is a newly established one right on the St Johns river.  They had a good number of fresh vegetable vendors as well as a great mix of art work, jewelry, crafts and personal care products.  I would like to see some more prepared food vendors (vegetarian would be awesome!), possibly a food truck and some live music, but overall it was a GREAT market and you can find KyV Farm there every week featuring their organic produce.  Please head out there to support this new market – it is every Saturday, 10AM to 2PM, 2060 State Road 13, Switzerland, Florida.

The acorn squash, spaghetti squash, blossoms and garlic are all organically grown from KyV Farm. In fact, the spaghetti squash I had from the end of last season, waiting patiently on the counter for me to use it – so this started out as a spaghetti squash recipe but quickly morphed into a stuffed acorn squash since I bought two of those fresh at the market on Saturday.  There were so many delicious elements in this recipe that I had trouble fitting them all in the title; sweet roasted garlic, aromatic sage and thyme, fresh rosemary, caramel-y roasted onions, squash blossoms and that creamy pumpkin sauce.  This dish incorporates all of the welcoming tastes of fall and if you are like me living in Florida, it is a great way to celebrate the new season, even if we are only just starting to see some cooler weather.

I am SO excited about this recipe and if you try it, I know you will be too!

Lastly, I hope you will follow me on facebook if you don’t already.  It is such a great way to connect with the people that support and follow my blog.  Thank you to all of you!

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic, Sage, Pumpkin Sauce and Fresh Squash Blossoms

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic, Sage, Pumpkin Sauce and Fresh Squash Blossoms

Inspired by my friend Caras Cravings
Serves 6 – 1 cup spaghetti squash, 1/2 acorn squash, 1/4 cup sauce

Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

1 spaghetti squash**
3 acorn squashes
1 onion
2 small bulbs garlic or one large
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese for non-vegan)
1/2 cup plain non dairy creamer – I used Silk Original (or regular creamer for non-vegan)
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
4 squash blossoms (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut squashes in half and scoop out seeds, chop onion, cut tops off garlic and wrap in foil; prepare pans with non-stick cooking spray.   Place squashes face down on pans, add onions and garlic around squashes.  Bake 60 minutes.

2. Add pumpkin puree, nutritional yeast, creamer, salt, sage and thyme to small sauce pan; heat over medium, low heat.  Stir in roasted onions and garlic and simmer mixture, about five minutes or until heated through.

3. Place 1/2 acorn squash on each of six plates, top with 1 cup spaghetti squash and 1/4 cup sauce mixture. Slice squash blossoms; sprinkle evenly over 6 plates, top with sprinkle of chopped fresh rosemary.

**There may be some left over depending on the size of the squash.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 209.8
Total Fat 2.4 g
Sat Fat 0.2 g
Polyunsat Fat 0.3 g
Monounsat Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 106.8 mg
Potassium 1,080.1 mg
Total Carb 46.7 g
Dietary Fiber 8.0 g
Sugars 12.2 g
Protein 6.2 g

Vitamin A 18.4 %
Vitamin B-12 44.3 %
Vitamin B-6 187.3 %
Vitamin C   52.6%
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.1 %
Calcium 12.0 %
Copper 12.8 %
Folate 33.3 %
Iron 14.1 %
Magnesium 24.0 %
Manganese 32.6 %
Niacin 107.5 %
Pantothenic Acid 17.9 %
Phosphorus 16.7 %
Riboflavin 192.1 %
Selenium 13.6 %
Thiamin 238.4 %
Zinc 11.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Sep 172012

KyV Farm’s Second Annual Farm-to-Table dinner will be the talk of the town with their fresh, seasonal vegetables showcased by the expert chefs at the Floridian,
St Augustine.


People are getting more excited about fresh vegetables and especially organic, seasonal and local foods.  Farm shares are the perfect way to incorporate these foods into a diet. On Thursday, November 29th the Floridian and KYV farm will team up once again to celebrate the start of a new the season. 

 The Floridian (http://www.thefloridianstaug.com/) is a casual restaurant in historic St Augustine that showcases fresh, seasonal and local meats, dairy and produce from these very farms in order to support the local community, environment and the economy.  Head chef Genie McNally has been working in the restaurant industry for fifteen years.  She learned many of her culinary skills through a catering company and later opened a stand at the local farmers market called dujour market. 

 Their stand was so popular that she moved on to the next step to open her first restaurant, the Floridian, that has recently celebrated its two year anniversary.

Genie is excited to participate in this farm to table event because fresh, local and seasonal foods are exactly what the Floridian focuses on.  It’s been really amazing to see, even over the past year, the community’s growing awareness of the need for Farm-to-table food and what it does for the region’s farmers and producers.”


The feature farm for this event is KYV farm (http://www.kyvfarm.com/), a certified organic farm located in Switzerland Florida is owned and run by farmers Francisco Arroyo and Vivian Bayona.  They offer a seasonal farm share program, tours, workshops and an apprenticeship program. KYV farm opened their doors in 2006 after relocating to Jacksonville to be closer to Francisco’s sister who had been living in the area since 1988. 

  The biggest challenge they faced was promoting the CSA/farm share product when little was known about it at the time; however the hard work has paid off as the biggest reward has been the growth over the years through the entire community’s support and participation. In 2011 KYV farm gained their USDA Organic certification to meet the public’s demand for local organic produce to support their healthier lifestyles. They are so excited about participating in this farm to table event to showcase that their fresh produce can be used in both basic preparation and can be taken to the next level in a gourmet setting such as this event.  Vivian stated “Last year’s event at the Floridian was such a success, I know this year will be even better!”

Tickets for this event will go on sale beginning October 1st.  Ticket prices are $65 for a meat option and $55 for vegetarian. The dinner consists of a four course menu with the option to buy wine or beer separately. The first seating will be at 6pm and second seating may be offered at 8pm if the earlier seating sells out.

Parking the night of the event will be subject to availability around the St Augustine area.  There is a parking lot located across the street with meters spaces.

Contact the Floridian St Augustine to purchase tickets (904) 829-0655 or contact Dawn Hutchins directly for more information at (904) 534-4252.
 Posted by at 9:38 am