Tiffany Noé isn't your garden-variety farmer. An expert on everything from urban foraging to cooking up organic potting mix, she's Miami's locavore champion.
This week, Noé's latest idea was was named a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge. Her idea, officially dubbed "Wild Planting for a Fruitful Future," involves placing a whole host of edible plants in public places across Miami.
Should her dream come to fruition, Miamians will - one day - have a bounty of equal-opportunity fruits and edibles to enjoy.
In addition to being co-owner of the Little River Cooperative Nursery (along with Muriel Olivares), she's also the co-author of Forager: A Subjective Guide to Miami's Edible Plants. The book helped inspire the challenge concept, Noé said.
"The idea is very simple. Maybe that's why it appealed to them [Knight Foundation]," she said. "It's basically to give out a bunch of plants -- fruit trees, tropical ones that we're all used to seeing all over the streets. Mangoes and avocados ... also, some that aren't trees but are edible -- aloe vera or Cuban oregano, which is a subtropical Caribbean herb that a lot of people have in their front yard."
Should she win the challenge, Noé hopes to distribute at least 1,000 trees and plants; potentially more. Ideally, the plants would be doled out at three events in three different locales.
"Maybe some public schools, maybe some fun venues like Gramps or something so that we can reach a really diverse crowd of people," Noé explained.
Participants will be asked to place the plants in areas that are accessible to anyone, from front yards to parks, to random holes in the ground. It's all about communal access.
"We just want to give these plants away but with the idea that if you take a plant, you're committing to plant it in a place that's available to the public. That could be in your front yard, if you don't have a fence."
"It's sort of like, just squeeze in edibles where you can," she says.
The plants people forage from now were planted decades ago by other Miamians, Noé explained, and that's what she hopes to do for future generations.
She plans to source the trees from small, locally-owned growers and nurseries.
Another component of the project will be to waterproof tags to each plant/tree. The tags will offer information on the type of tree, a link to a website where people can learn more about the endeavor, and plot the trees on a forager's map.
If you're the planter, "you can map where you put the tree, and if you're a passer by, you can go and tag the tree," Noé added.
The Knight Challenge winners are announced in March, and Noé would hope to distribute the plants throughout the following three months -- peak planting season for fruit trees.
"If you plant a fruit tree in May, it gets heavily watered by nature, so it's going to be really happy and likely to succeed. If you do that in November, when it might not rain for three weeks, you're going to have a lower chance for success."
As far as the other local finalists, Noé is thrilled to be in excellent company.
"A lot of the other ideas are really cool and exciting -- very big and broad, and I feel kind of silly being the person who just wants to give out a bunch of trees. But that's really what I want to do: give out a bunch of trees."
You can follow the Knight's Cities Challenge on their website.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.
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