Crones' Cradle Provides a Wealth of Opportunities for Natural Living
Crones' Cradle Conserve (CCC), founded in 1987, is protected by a conservation easement and is a declared wildlife preserve. Crones' Cradle Conserve Foundation has completed wetlands restoration of its western 300 acres in partnership with the St. Johns Water Management District. The partnership removed drainage canals and provides open water and estuary access for the water plants and creatures of the wetlands. The Florida Forest Service awarded CCC their Stewardship Forest designation nearly eight years ago.
A second restoration project underway on the eastern edge of CCC involves yellow pine, the premiere evergreen which covered thousands of acres of land over the entire South 100 years ago. Yellow pine is highly valued in the ecosystem, as it provides housing for dozens of animals, reptiles and amphibians. The restoration is about 85 per cent complete. A direct beneficiary of the restoration is a healthy population of the gopher tortoise; their burrows are used by dozens of other creatures.
CCC farms organically, producing and selling several thousand pounds of about 75 different naturally grown vegetables during all seasons, believing that naturally grown food should be available year-round. They also raise 30 varieties of culinary and medicinal herbs.
The newest offering in CCC's horticulture line up is an assortment of Florida native plants; nine native plants are currently offered, with the list growing steadily. Native trees and shrubs will be added as soon as space can be organized. Vegetables, herbs, and native plants seedlings are available in the CCC greenhouse.
Crones' Cradle Conserve Foundation's primary aim is to foster, support, respect and acknowledge the crucial role the Earth plays in wholistic living by humans and other beings. To this end, CCC offers workshops and conferences throughout the year on topics that include such basic skills and crafts as fire building, quilting, soap making, basket weaving and others. Workshops include soil building, growing, harvesting and marketing vegetables; the importance of bee keeping for pollination; and worm keeping for aeration and enrichment of soil, as well as using the worm castings.
Crones Cradle offers retreat space and rents meeting or conference space for complementary groups, including yoga, tai chi, weaving and textile classes. CCC also boasts extensive walking and biking trails, fishing and rocking chairs on the store porch for tale-telling and reminiscing.
The farm store is open seven days each week from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., offering fresh produce, seedlings, books, a large assortment of personal goods, honey, teas, jams, jellies and pickled products made from vegetables grown on the farm. The store also provides original artworks by local artists, including photography, paintings, pottery, jewelry, wooden bowls, pot holders and wooden kitchen implements fashioned in the farm’s woodworking shop.
The annual Crones' Cradle Conserve Spring Natural Foods Gala on March 23 will highlight guest chefs and farm cooks producing delectable dishes from the farm gardens and neighboring local farmers. Samples of the foods are available so that visitors can taste as many dishes as they wish. Live music will play all day, and a number of vendors will offer services and products relative to sustainable living. The farm store will be stocked with fresh produce, books, canned items and artistic offerings, while the CCC thrift corner will be open with many items the farm no longer needs offered for sale.
Admission to the Food Gala is $1 and $2 for each food sampled. Crones' Cradle is located at 6411 NE 217th Pl., in Citra. For more information, call 352-595-3377 or visit CronesCradleConserve.org.