It’s new!  The Florida Agricultural Museum has a lot of things going on.  Farm Swap and Music Jam Thursdays are only a few weeks’ young.  Since we are early risers, we got there just a few minutes after the vendors, a little past 8 am.

The Farm Swap is located just inside the gate off of Palm Harbor Drive.  It is on the left to the west of the tall trees.  Their morning shade will be much appreciated as our Spring and Summer temperatures hot up.  At least for those of you who don’t get up before the birds like we do.  We missed the music.  I guess jammers like to sleep in.

We took advantage of the lack of early morning crowds to chat with some of the vendors.  Most of them can also be found at other markets in the area.  Several are at the Saint Augustine Beach Wednesday market.  Gail and John Upton of Pioneer Herbal Products USA said that they have great success at the Orange Park market as it is humming.  We will have to check that one out.

Pioneer Herbal Products USA


Gail and John Upton’s handmade herbal soaps and balms are for “Equine, Canine & Human Applications”.  They are all 100% natural products made with certified organic ingredients made in Florida.  How’s that for your coddled furry family members that are as discerning as you are?

Nathan’s Forge, Ltd.

Nick Vincent makes all of the items himself.  They fit right in with today’s rustic decorating themes.

Connie’s Collection Plants & Jewelry

I checked out Connie’s plants to replace some of my frozen friends.  I had given her my card and when she saw that I speak Portuguese, she told me that she did, too.  It turns out that we had actually met before when she had a fruit and vegetable stall at the southwest corner of the Flagler Market a few years ago.  Now she focuses on herbs and small flowering plants.   Besides the Wednesday market at Saint Augustine Beach, she also has a stall at Halifax Hospital.

Forks of Fancy


Right next to Connie was Forks of Fancy.  The only thing missing was a bright spot of sunshine to complete the dazzle of these highly polished windchimes.  Now here is a lady with the right idea!  She has figured out what to do with those silver heirlooms that you know that our children, with their newly rustic, mid-century decorated homes, do not want.



 Mike’s Home Grown Farm


Mike only had a few items of his locally grown, hydroponic, pesticide-free produce.  I am sure the variety will increase as we get into the season.





Bubbles Bailey Soap + Stuff

Wow, did I have fun talking to Bubbles.  I should have guessed that someone with the delightful array of wares, all made by Bubbles, all with homegrown ingredients–some from the bees she keeps, would have that happy name.


Learn how to grow your own loofah sponges |

Most interesting to me, however, were the loofahs.  I had really thought that they came from the sea.  I didn’t feel quite so unknowing when my husband said the same thing about the sea origin.  In fact, they are a gourd that is a member of the cucumber family.  They are green and look like a zucchini.  Sometimes they are spelled luffa or loofa.  Loofahs can be eaten young, but work best for cleaning. They are good for cleaning porcelain,  taking the grime off cast iron pans, getting out grass stains, cleaning your car, and of course in the shower.  You could even make an all-purpose scrubber filled with homemade soap, but it might be simpler to head to the Farm Swap and buy one from Bubbles.

I forgot to tell you that she gave me some loofah seeds.  Better yet, she gave me some great tips on how to grow them.  I grow a lot of things from seed:  lemons, papayas, hot peppers, basil.  Her tips should also work for those.

  1. Take some soil from the area where you plan to plant the loofahs.
  2. Mix the soil with a little compost or old teabags or coffee grounds.
  3. Put the mixture in paper cups.
  4. Put 3 seeds in each cup. Water and watch them germinate.
  5. In May, dig a hole for each cup and plant it, cup and all in the ground.
  6. Be sure to plant them on a trellis or along a fence as they need to climb.

If you start now, your plants will be ready to go in the ground in May.  You can only plant the whole thing if you use real paper cups as they will disintegrate.

I already have my bamboo tripods from last year’s attempt to grow squash flowers. But then again, if the gourds really grow, they might need some reinforcing if they don’t find their way to the fence.

Check out the Farm Swap and Music Jam.  Maybe go later so you get to see and hear everything.  There are other vendors and food trucks, too. While you are there, why don’t you tour the farm?  If you are lucky, it might be a day that we volunteer there.  John drives the tractor for the tours and I tell the tales.



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