JAN 17, 2020
One Earth on the Road…
As many of you know, we’ve been doing a lot of shows (farmer’s markets, arts & crafts fairs, festivals) since spring of last year (2019). Our reasons for doing these events are:
🌳 To meet people and get the word out about One Earth Body Care
🌳 To generate cash flow to make the business sustainable
🌳 To learn more about what people are looking for in natural body care and knowledge related to Everyday Ecology
🌳 To have great conversations, to learn and share ideas and information
These events have been an important part of forming the business into what it is and what it’s becoming, and we enjoy engaging with other vendors and customers and participating in an alternative economy. Winter in the Midwest and Northeast doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for arts & crafts shows, so we decided to head south where Winter is prime time for these events. Thanks to stained glass artist Michelle Hoff, who we met last year at the Yankee Peddler Festival near Cleveland, for planting the seed of this idea.
So here we are in Southwestern Florida, where we just finished the first of 3 shows we’ll do in January. This is our Trip Report Number 1!
Our first show was in Ave Maria, a Catholic town built around a big church shaped like the Pope’s hat. The town was founded in 2005 by a partnership between the Barron Collier Companies and Tom Monaghan, a “Roman Catholic philanthropist” and the founder of Domino’s Pizza. The current population is around 30,000 and it’s rapidly growing. Ave Maria University is a major feature of the town. The big stone pope hat cathedral sits in the center of town, and there’s one main road into and out of town. That gives me a slight feeling of claustrophobia at the cluster that would occur if the need to leave quickly should arise…
Subdivisions with different themes (such as age of residents) are arrayed around the town, interspersed with huge stormwater basins surrounded by turfgrass and an occasional tree. [Not so] Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, Ave Maria was sprayed with organophosphate and pyrethroid pesticides by airplane 15 times in 2015 to combat mosquitoes.Yow!!
The nearest town is Immokalee, about 15 minutes north. Naples is about half an hour west. The surrounding landscape consists mostly of drained wetlands, scraggly palm and eucalyptus trees, shrubs, lemon groves, and bulldozers gnawing on land where the next batch of subdivisions will go.
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is about half an hour away. This swamp is an important protected area of bald cypress forest that provides a home for endangered Wood Storks, Florida Panthers, American Alligators, Gopher Tortoises, Florida Sandhill Cranes, Limpkins, Roseate Spoonbills, Big Cypress Fox Squirrels, Florida Black Bears, and many other plants and animals.
Being in Ave Maria was a semi-surreal experience, this planned community with religion at the core. The shops around the town center included a Home School store featuring statues of religious figures, a university store stocked with godly paraphrenalia, a few restaurants, and a Publix grocery store.
We met some lovely people at the fair, including residents, tourists, Snowbirds, and Floridians from other parts of the state. We enjoyed getting to know some of the other vendors, including Jane Lyon, a jeweler from the Berkshires in Massachusetts; Gloria Skrobacki, a fabulous freelance artist from Michigan; LeDora, a wildlife photographer from Florida; and many others. We parked the One Earth camper in a spacious parking lot near the town center and camped for free under a Live Oak tree covered with Old Man’s Beard lichens and filled with birds. On the last day, we watched a Cooper’s Hawk wait patiently in the tree to be left alone to eat her morning breakfast. We walked many miles in the mornings and evenings to watch the sunrise, check out alligators in the canal and whatever else we could see, including warblers, ibis, mockingbirds, grackles & crows, herons and egrets, and a raccoon who was stuck in the dumpster. We added cardboard boxes to make a ladder for her… she climbed out and hung out with us for a few minutes before ambling away.
The Ave Maria fair was lightly attended, which was disappointing. However, the weather was beautiful and we made the most of our time here. The next stop on our Florida tour is a show at the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, from Jan 18-20. Thanks for reading – Stay tuned for Trip Report #2!