Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's a Park worth?

The vast stretch of land between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades National Park is one great huge produce growing conglomerate.  Here it is--mid-December and there are crops being harvested everywhere.  And every square foot of land is producing something.

Squash (above), tomatoes, corn, peppers, papaya, cucumbers and all manner of flowers and citrus.

When I was talking to the Rangers in the Everglades I asked what their biggest concern was.  The answer -- "The diversion of water away from the Park."  In an effort to save the Everglades it seems that there are many projects in the works to restore the natural flow of water  before the park becomes too brackish--or dries up altogether. But not only is fresh water being drained from the park to feed the insatiable agricultural beast but the money to restore the water is being drained away as well in this time of recession.

And it was evident everywhere--water is needed to grow these crops--and agriculture provides more income and jobs to the state than a vast, protected wildlife area.  Tourist dollars count but Florida orange juice counts more.

My purchases are from a fruit stand right outside the entrance to the park.  Please note the size of that avocado. The tomatoes were incredible and the oranges are every bit as sweet as those from my trees in Arizona.

I never expected to see corn growing and ready for harvest in December.

That is a row of coconut palms separating two fields.  Every inch of land is growing something.
I took this picture from the RV--there was no place to pull over but I wanted my sister, Mary in Hawaii to see the  papayas.
Is there an answer to 'What is a  Park worth?'  The produce from the fruit stand fed my body-- but the Park fed my soul.

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