Visit to Kai Kai Farm in Stuart, Florida_01.10.18

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, I had the privilege of visiting an outstanding farm-to-table farm in Stuart, Florida. Kai Kai is a shining example of a farm-to-table smallholding using nearly organic (not certified, but practices organic care) methods — established 15 years ago by Diane Cordeau and Carl Frost, Cordeau is a former entomologist and university professor who has since put her skills and experience into sustainable farming practices. A remarkable woman, Diane is a French-Canadian ex-pat who has created an oasis of fresh, nutrient-dense produce for South Florida’s farm-to-table restaurants.

Here’s the story of Kai Kai in a nutshell, as Diane tells it: “We would stop in the Solomon Islands and the chiefs would greet us when we came ashore asking if we would like to go for kai kais, meaning gathering food,” Cordeau said. “We watched them grow vegetables in a very primitive way on coral. They were successful, and we thought, ‘We can do that.’ One thing led to another, and we decided that our future would be in farming. And now, every time there is some drama on the farm, we think about them,” she said.

Diane Cordeau
Diane Cordeau
Diane illustrates a point.
Seedlings destined for farm-to-table restaurants.
Hard to resist tasting!
Eucalyptus trees used as windbreak.
75 varieties of lettuce supplied to local restaurants.
Fresh and bountiful, waiting to be transplanted.
True farm-to-table fare!

These seed packets (below) are daisy-chained together and attach directly to a tractor at one end and then roll out row after row of seeded crop. Clever!

Rows of seed packets waiting for deployment.
Close-up of seed packet.

The following images show near-organic techniques. The plastic bedding comes in three colors:  white to reflect the sun, black to absorb it, and silver, according to Diane, “to scramble the brains” of a particular pest.

Notice black on the right side, white on the left.
A glimpse of how it’s done.
Silver bedding to confuse pests.
More silver.
Insect-netting tent — freakin’ huge.
Me amidst the bounty.
Darryl has twenty years’ full time and adjunct teaching experience in sustainable food systems, writing, marketing and publishing at colleges and universities in Vermont and Massachusetts. Author of Farm to Table: The Essential Guide to Sustainable Food Systems for Students, Professionals, and Consumers (Chelsea Green), Darryl teaches in the graduate Sustainable Food Systems and Resilient and Sustainable Communities programs at Green Mountain College. He blogs about sustainable food at the University of Vermont’s Food-Feed site and Upserve’s Darryl is a frequent workshop leader at national and international food and agriculture conferences. He holds a M.F.A. in Writing and a Leadership in Sustainable Food Systems Certificate from the University of Vermont.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to toolbar