Rockledge Gardens Helping Lead the Charge for Sustainable Gardening in Brevard County
If you’re not hip to sustainable gardening yet, you can liken it to conscientious gardening, because, at its core, that’s what it’s really all about. It’s eco-friendly. It’s about eliminating harmful and often unnecessary chemicals. It’s also about saving space and making the most of what you have to work with smarter, more creative ways.
In a nutshell, it’s about getting back to basics and innovative thinking, and the rewards of this growing trend are safer, healthier produce; a reduction in groundwater contamination from hazardous runoff; and the conservation of our already-stretched natural resources. It’s the greener, better way to go.
Sustainable gardening has increased in Brevard County in recent years, and Rockledge Gardens is a part of that growth. Established by Harry and Mary Witte, for 60 years it has been a staple for discerning gardeners looking for the kinds of quality plants, statuary and garden design a lot of their competitors just don’t supply.
Still owned and operated by the family today, the original concept was expanded upon by the youngest member of the Witte family, Theresa Riley, who decided to make Rockledge Gardens her career. Since 2012, that expansion has included The Farm, located directly across the street from the garden center at 2153 U.S. Route 1 in Rockledge, Florida.
The Farm hydroponically grows beautiful produce using sustainable organic controls with the idea of providing local, fresh, healthy produce for the community. Crops include different tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, herbs and edible flowers. It also has fruit-bearing crops such as lemon, lime, avocado and banana trees, as well as blueberries and blackberries, too.
A farmers market is held twice weekly at the garden center to provide a venue for the sale of all of The Farm’s hard work. The market includes additional crops and produce grown by other farms located within Brevard and Volusia Counties.
At the height of growing season, October through May, The Farm sells thousands of pounds of produce, including a very popular bagged mix of lettuces, baby greens and edible flowers.
To further entice consumers in search of wholesome goodness, there are a number of local vendors who take part on market days, selling such items as farm fresh eggs and meats, sea salt, baked goods, local honey, fair-trade organic coffee, spices, sauces, cheeses, soaps, skin care products containing essential oils, craft items and more.
If you’re interested in attending, the farmers market takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but if you want to see what the vendors have to offer, you should be aware that most of them participate primarily on Saturdays.
Along the same vein, on the second Saturday of each month, they expand the entire market experience by bringing in additional vendors and setting up tents outside the market building where visitors will find various crafts and homemade items showcased. The event is aptly called Farm & Friends Saturday, and it also features a petting farm along with inside vendors who do cooking demos.
Two food trucks that supply customers with fresh, delicious foods on Saturdays and Wednesdays round out the experience. The first is Udo’s Doener Booth, which offers a German sandwich similar to a gyro, and the second is EatQual Street Food, which provides vegan fare.
If you’ve never been to either facility, you really should make the brief drive because it’s well worth the effort. With workshops and insightful gardening tips, both spaces provide a gardener’s paradise few can resist, whether you have a green thumb or not, plus you can bring your dog. What better way to spend an idyllic Saturday afternoon?