Hot Dish

ECHOing the Call for Sustainability

BY March 16, 2016



From learning how to prop up fruit plants to tasting African peanut sauce, what’s on the docket for the yearly Global Food and Farm Festival comes back to the question of how we affect our planet. That question is the mission of ECHO, the organization that hosts it. What started as a Christian ministry helping the agrarian poor in 1970s Haiti, ECHO (originally Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization) has evolved into its permanent base in North Fort Myers from which various tropical ecosystems are re-created on a 50-acre teaching farm. In addition to daily tours run for the enlightenment of curious locals and tourists eager to explore the wonderland of quirky, innovative, yet surprisingly simple solutions to problems confounding global farms, the nonprofit recruits and trains real farmers from far-flung places like Burkina Faso and Thailand in those techniques and tools that can extend the life and yield of their crops (don’t give a man a tomato; teach him to grow one). 

For the festival, the farm gates swing open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 19 (tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the farm). A fair of vendors selling sustainable products, like locally cured beef jerky or goat-milk soap, will snake the grounds. In addition, ECHO’s staff and community volunteers will be giving out food samples, leading cooking demonstrations (last year’s highlight was an authentic pad Thai) and running workshops, such as how to landscape with edible plants and tips for summer veggie gardening in Southwest Florida.

If you can’t make it on March 19, the farm is open several days a week for tours. And if you’re remotely concerned about the state of food on this planet, it’s worth a visit, especially on Fridays and Saturdays when the property has a little farm stand, giving you the shot to knock out your shopping list and learn about how your food got there. 


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