small bites

Nature's Partner

By Maggie Hughes / Photography By Daniel Perales | November 30, 2017
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Living an authentically sustainable lifestyle isn’t always an easy task. Peter Burkard, armed with his degree in agriculture from the University of Florida, has it down to a science.

“I was living way out in the country and was kind of divorced from everything that was going on and totally involved in a rural lifestyle and growing my own food,” says Peter, when his future and the beginning of his deep relationship with the Sarasota community came calling.

In 1979 Peter’s mother saw a small advertisement in the Herald Tribune. The Sarasota Downtown Merchants Association announced a rally for local vendors to participate in a farmers’ market to help stimulate the local economy. The growth at that time of conventional malls had Sarasota’s downtown merchants seeing new trends in consumerism and feeling a negative effect on businesses. The fairly new (then) idea of a farmers’ market was just the right opportunity for Peter and Sarasota.

Enter: Nature’s Partner.

Peter’s vision for Nature’s Partner, now a staple at the Sarasota Farmers’ Market, was simple: Bring the freshest seasonal fruit and vegetable offerings of the region to the community.

“I pulled in with produce I had harvested on the way in,” he reminisces of his first day as a vendor. Sourcing produce from his own family garden and garden space shared with friends, Peter boasts, “It was great from the very beginning.”

Almost four decades later, he has been growing not only amazing organic fruits and veggies, but his network of backyard growers and other local, more established farms like Jessica’s Organic Farm to supply NP. “I have a handful of organic home growers I rely on. They consistently have surpluses of high-quality seasonal fruits and sometimes other unusual items.”

Peter proudly takes his personal philosophy everywhere, but especially at home: “Most months we don’t even have an electric bill.” And when confronted with the alternative options of traditional living Peter laughs, “I am happier with dirty hands.” From solar energy powering his home and a Sun Oven cooking his food, Peter says you can cook just about anything by harnessing the sun’s power.

“I have always been an environmentalist and I wanted to always look for ways to conserve energy,” he says. Over the years aligning himself with environmental causes, his direct involvement with Recycle Now resulted in the convenience of curbside recycling in SRQ that began in the mid-’90s. Peter has shared his experiences in a book titled The Real Dirt: An Organic Grower’s Journey and the Values That Inspired It.

So, this is Peter. He has always been a natural-living enthusiast and enjoys the benefits of mental and physical heath that come along with a sustainable lifestyle. Be like Peter.

Nature’s Partner: Sarasota Farmers Market

Article from Edible Sarasota at http://ediblesarasota.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/natures-partner
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