The scenery in the vicinity of Townies Pizzeria has certainly changed in recent years with the creation of the restaurant’s impressive vegetable garden. No doubt many local residents have seen the expanding bounty and noticeable progress at the garden since its inception around two years ago.
Dubbed “Townies Pizza Farm,” the rows of vegetables and some flowers is a nice addition to the Amelia Plaza shopping center located in-between 8th Street and 14th Street on the island. Townies even has pineapples growing in containers behind the restaurant building. Two thousand pounds of produce came out of the Townies garden and went into the restaurant in 2022.
Teaching The Community
A restaurant developing an onsite “chef’s garden” is not a new concept these days. However, Townies went further by also turning their sizeable garden into an outdoor classroom. Establishing a relationship with the UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension, together an opportunity was created to share knowledge with local gardeners. The “Townies Pizza Farm” has become the venue of a composting workshop that’s been happening once a month. The workshop is presented by David Hebert, UF/IFAS Extension Horticultural Agent. The next composting workshop will be held on May 6, 2023 (see link to registration form below).
Online Registration — May 6, 2023 Soil Health Workshop
The May 6, 2023 workshop focusing on soil health and composting will be the last one of springtime, before a seasonal pause. The upcoming 2-hour workshop is $10 and includes a composting basket plus lunch (two slices of pizza, “gluten-free cauliflower crust cheese pizza”). Reservations are limited to 30 participants. Visit Townies Pizzeria website for more info and to sign up via the online registration form for the May 6, 2023 composting/soil health workshop.
The photos published here were taken during an impromptu garden tour offered by Matt Klabacka, Townies Pizzeria’s “chief bottle washer,” on the last day of March 2023. Admiring the garden from the edge of the parking lot after a shopping excursion, he called out and then opened the garden gate, inviting me in. He shared his experience growing and composting, and it was apparent how much he enjoys his farming endeavor.
Winn Dixie is just across the parking lot from Townies. Interestingly, the grocery store contributes to Townies’ soil-making by providing produce past its prime, the discards go into the composting process.
“There’s Goodness In The Soil”
Learn more about Townies and its owner by watching Heartland’s video interview with Matt Klabacka, “There’s Goodness In The Soil,” at the Townies Pizzeria restaurant website.
More About Nassau County, FL Extension
Plenty of folks have relocated to Nassau County, FL from other states and geographic regions of the country and many more will be moving here in the future, coming from different “USDA Hardiness Zones.” Nassau County, FL has two hardiness zones, 8b toward the western side, and 9a toward the eastern area of the county. Newcomers may find growing a productive vegetable garden in the Sunshine State is a lot different, depending where you’re from, and can be challenging.
The best resource for gardening and landscaping info is the University of Florida’s Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), with its 67 county extensions. Nassau County’s Rebecca L. Jordi Cooperative Extension office is located at 85831 Miner Road in Yulee, FL, see website. Nassau’s extension also presents some online programs for the convenience of watching from home on various topics (available via zoom, register in advance). From May 2023 through December 2023, the Nassau Extension has ten courses/events scheduled, see Eventbrite. The next online course is happening on May 10, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. — “Landscape Matters: Florida-Friendly Flowers.”