From Around the World to Your Backyard, ECHO Provides Assistance to Local Gardeners

Building on Expert Experience, the ECHO Global Farm Provides Resources to Local Community Gardeners

Through the Community Garden Assistance Program, ECHO offers resources such as basic trainings and consultation for local garden projects. 

A unique perspective that ECHO brings to the domestic community gardening is shaped by their work with small-scale farmers in many of the poorest regions of the world.  ECHO seeks to provide an opportunity for practical and affordable ideas to be shared and communicated across the globe and at home.

A brightly colored sign greets visitors to the active community garden located on ECHO’s Global Farm in the Buckingham area of Fort Myers, FL.(photo by: Bianca Ross)

A brightly colored sign greets visitors to the active community garden located on ECHO’s Global Farm in the Buckingham area of Fort Myers, FL.(photo by: Bianca Ross)

Dozens of perennials, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices grow in this relatively small garden space tended by the community garden intern. Like ECHO farmers around the world, she uses techniques to maximize space and work within the environment. (photo by: Bianca Ross)

Dozens of perennials, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices grow in this relatively small garden space tended by the community garden intern. Like ECHO farmers around the world, she uses techniques to maximize space and work within the environment. (photo by: Bianca Ross)

At one end of the community garden, Bouquet Dill and hot peppers grow in recycled tires. Container gardening is an inexpensive and feasible option in areas with little or no access to arable ground. (photo by: Bianca Ross)

At one end of the community garden, Bouquet Dill and hot peppers grow in recycled tires. Container gardening is an inexpensive and feasible option in areas with little or no access to arable ground. (photo by: Bianca Ross)

Tomatoes ripen on this 84 degree Florida Day. Community gardens are meant to be beneficial to those around them, this one provides nuritious food. (Photo By: Bianca Ross)

Tomatoes ripen on this 84 degree Florida Day. Community gardens are meant to be beneficial to those around them, this one provides nuritious food. (Photo By: Bianca Ross)

Community gardens improve neighborhoods. They foster community, promote intergenerational learning, provide supplemental food for individual households, and provide life skills training.(photo by: Bianca Ross)

Community gardens improve neighborhoods. They foster community, promote intergenerational learning, provide supplemental food for individual households, and provide life skills training.(photo by: Bianca Ross)

To learn more about the Community Garden Assistance Program with ECHO please visit our site:

Get your garden into high gear!

Dr. Martin Price, founding CEO of ECHO, shares a personal story that many of us who were transplanted to SW Florida and tried to garden during the summer can related to.  

"Within a couple days after Bonnie and I arrived in Florida in June 1981 I began digging a garden.   For an avid gardener used to the long winters “up north” this was an exciting adventure.  I was going to grow flowers and vegetables year-round in the Garden of Eden itself - at least something very close to it. Or so I thought.

Then an experienced older gentleman told me, “Son, you don’t garden here in the summer. It’s like winter up north. You just let the area grow to weeds during the summer, then plant your garden in the fall.” I tried anyway.
— Dr. Martin Price

Then an experienced older gentleman told me, “Son, you don’t garden here in the summer.  It’s like winter up north.  You just let the area grow to weeds during the summer, then plant your garden in the fall.”  I tried anyway.  

I could not believe it when none of the seeds I had brought with me from Ohio grew to the point that I had something to eat!  (There was one cantaloupe that a raccoon ate the night before I was going to harvest it.) I had no idea what the heat and humidity would do to green beans, broccoli, lettuce and radishes!  

 I had not envisioned what disease and insect problems would be like where there is no winter freeze to kill them off.  I was taken by surprise by the difficulty of watering plants growing in the fine sand, and then by the suddenly very high water table that killed the roots.  I was taken by surprise at the deadly effect of root-knot nematodes.  Even the marigolds and zinnias I had planted as a border died before they got big enough to bloom.  It is a good thing I had not been sent to Florida to teach the poor Floridians how to garden!  

Today if you visit ECHO during the summer you will find food plants growing everywhere.  But you will not find many of the “temperate” vegetables that are staples of most northern gardens.  Many of them you will not even recognize."

Dr. Price learned the hard way 35 years ago, but thankfully for us, he came away from that initial failure with a much more appropriate way to garden during our wet and muggy SW Florida summers.   Now we want to make that information available to you so your summer garden will be a success!  Click below to learn about perennial and other vegetables uniquely suited to our summer gardening season in Florida. Happy gardening!