Tag Archives: julia kelly

Agriculture’s Eradication of the Mythical Pond Apple Forest, Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

Photo of pond apples in Big Cypress, a shared flicker photo by Mac
Photo of pond apples in Big Cypress, a shared Flicker photo by Mac Stone, 2014.
Pond apple also known as custard apple--this is the custard apple forest as depicted by artist Julia Kelly in the River Kidz second edition workbook, 2015.
Pond apple is also known as custard apple–this is the custard apple forest as depicted by artist Julia Kelly in the River Kidz second edition workbook, 2015.

In Florida, the pond apple is also known by many locals as the “custard apple,”(http://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Annoglab)

The mythical pond apple forest….Imagine, for a mile or two back from the water’s edge the trees grew, and like God’s magic sieve, their colossal roots strained the water of Lake Okeechobee before it inched its way south through the river of grass to the Everglades. Over thousands of years, the lake’s muck built up inside, around, and under, their gigantic roots, a forest grew, until one day the farmer came, the engineer came, the “white man” came, and took it all.

“We are chosen!” they said. “We are chosen to have dominion over the earth! Strip it! Cut it! Burn it! Tear it out! Expose the muck, the precious muck, and let us build an empire. Let us lift ourselves from poverty, feed ourselves, and become rich!”

Pond apple
Pond apple public photo.
Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson, 2015.
Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson, Stuart, Florida, 2015.
Pond apple blossom opening, photo Chuck McCartney.
Pond apple blossom opening, photo Chuck McCartney.

And many of today’s generations have become rich from this soil.

The story of the explosion of agriculture, and the sugar industry below the great lake known as “big waters,” or “Okeechobee,” as the Seminole people called it, is a not a tale for the weak. It is the story of the nature of man, and his destruction of the environment of which he is part. It is the story of “success,” and the difficult  journey of a culture to define what “success” really means.

Lawrence E.  Will, in his book, “Swamp to Sugar Bowl,” writes in his cracker style in 1968:

“That part of the woods along the south shore and half way up the eastern side, was a dense forest of tropical custard apple trees. For a mile to two miles back from the water’s edge they grew, and on all the islands as well. About 33,000 acres of solid custard apple tress there were, and that’s a heap of woods.”

33,000 acres of custard apple trees destroyed. Gone. Forever.

Today, the Everglades Agricultural Area is 700,000 square miles south of the lake. It produces sugar and vegetables.  The growth of the area is the reason why the overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee are directed thorough the northern estuaries killing local economies, rivers, and wildlife. Thus the story of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Once during a conversation with Mr Tom MacVicar, a respected engineer who works with the agricultural and sugar industry, I was told that Lake Okeechobee used to be about “30% bigger.” At the time, I wondered what he was talking about, but over the years through reading and study I have come to understand.

Let me explain. In the late 1800s when the early farmers planted their crops they would do so in winter when Lake Okeechobee’s waters had “receded back” as it was the “dry season.”  This would be after the back-breaking work in some areas of tearing out the pond apple trees in order to get to the rich muck, “black gold,” that lies underneath. Over the years the edge of the southern shore of the lake was pushed back and then the “smaller” lake was entirely diked. This is one reason why the lake can’t hold its historical water level. Through Florida and Congress, the history of the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers is linked to this history of pushing back the lake and building the agricultural empire, although now their mission includes environmental restoration.

Hmmm?

I think it would be fitting to replant some pond apple trees each year until one day, perhaps, we can regain part of the soul of that lake that was ripped out at the roots.

Old military map from 1846 shows how the fingers of water south of Lake Okeechobee that are no longer there today as the lake is diked.
Old military map from 1846 shows the fingers of water south of Lake Okeechobee that are no longer there today as the lake is diked. This would have been one area where the pond apple grew.

 

EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
Today's black gold south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 2014)
Today’s black gold south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 2014)
Photo from Swamp to Suagrland, showing pond apple with moon vines around Lake O. (Lawrence E Will)
Photo from Swamp to Sugarland, showing pond apple with moon vines around Lake O. Lawrence E Will, 1968.
Close up of small pond apple on Torry Island, by Lawrence E Will.
Close up of small pond apple on Torry Island, by Belle Glade , by Lawrence E Will, 1968.
Florida Memory Project, photo by John Kunkel Small 1869-1938.
Florida Memory Project, pond apples in a creek of the  Lake Okeechobee area photo by John Kunkel Small 1869-1938.

 

History of EAA: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everglades#Everglades_Agricultural_Area)

Nature for Your Neighborhood, A Program of the Institute for Regional Conservation: (http://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Annoglab)

Mr Tom MacVicar: (http://www.macvicarconsulting.com)

ACOE Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/LakeOkeechobee/HerbertHooverDike.aspx

Give A Penny or a Thousand, Please Support the Kidz Workbook Event, SRL/IRL

All are invited to attend the River Kidz  Workbook Event Fundraiser
All are invited to attend the River Kidz Workbook II Event Fundraiser

The river is for everyone, especially for kids!

This has been the theme of the River Kidz who since 2011 have been following their self-created mission: “to speak out, get involved and raise awareness because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”

As you may know, River Kidz is a grass-roots group that began with two 5th grade girls in the Town of Sewall’s Point and today includes hundreds of kids who attend local events, follow the Kidz on Facebook, and receive a monthly newsletter through their parent organization, the Rivers Coalition. Groups also sprouted up in St Lucie County and across the state in Lee County. These kids have had a great effect on water quality and St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon issues along our Treasure Coasts and statewide.

To help educate kids and parents, workbooks came out through a collaboration of adults and Kidz in 2013 focusing on the effects of releases from  C-23, C-24, C-44 and discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

This year, in 2014, the Jensen Beach High School Marine II Honors Class of Mrs Crystal Lucas, reworked the workbook, really entirely redoing it, with more depth of ideas on the canal and Lake Okeechobee problems focusing on the story of Marty the Manatee and his friends and the steady destruction of the rivers over time. New artwork from artist Julia Kelly helps tell the story. The new workbook is more sophisticated and meets Sunshine and Core Standards and most important for the Martine II students, has a mascot to lead the little kids, “Marty the Manatee.” Yes, Marty is based on the student’s  experiences with our local Indian Riverkeeper, Mr Marty Baum!

Due to teacher, Mrs Lucas, the Martine II students over a two-year period had exposure to speakers from the Army Corps of Engineers; South Florida Water Management District;  and took field trips to Lake Okeechobee and to the Everglades Coalition meetings among other things. Their depth of study is reflected in the new workbooks. Many of these students will be returning from university for this fundraiser event and to “see” their work published.

The coolest thing of all is that the River Kidz Workbook, Second Edition, is a collaboration of kids teaching kids. The Martin County School District has supported this effort and the plan is to share the workbooks in each second grade classroom in the county. Other workbooks will be shared in other grades and in private and independent schools as well, but second grade is the primary focus.

The final books are not yet printed as the group is raising money. The total costs for around 6000 workbooks is around $10,000 dollars. The books are beautiful full color, around 35 pages, and come with a completion certificate that “makes each kid a River Kid.”

The River Kidz and Adultz overseeing the project are confident they can raise this money as the did for the first workbook. It must be noted that Southeastern Printing of Port Salerno and the Mader family,  have made it possible to print these workbooks at a much lower cost.

We hope that you will attend the November 15th Fundraiser from 4-7PM at Bluewater Editions located at 4665 SE Dixie Highway, Port Salerno, and donate what you can. ALL ARE INVITED!!

We will be joined by artist/photographers Justin Riney, Julia Kelly, and Mike Hoffman.  There will be food and drink, live music, games, artwork for sale, and the River Kidz trademark lemonade stand.

A penny; a dollar; ten; twenty or a thousand…When Marjorie Stoneman Douglas started “Friends of the Everglades” each student gave a quarter and  this is what made the organization work–  EVERYONE WAS PART! This is what we wish to recreate.

So give what you can and come!  Put your money in the  jar by the door! All who donate will be recognized and thanked. Giving something is more important than how much you give.

Fundraising aside, the River Kidz want everyone in the community to be a part of this grassroots effort to save our rivers. I am including some pages of the rough draft so you can see what is “around the corner,” and so you hopefully will be inspired to give.

For me, this project is the “best of the very best” of what will, and already is, creating  a better future for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. 

Rough Draft of Cover
Rough Draft of Cover
Page of authors: Mrs Lucas' JBHS Marine Biology students, 2013
Page of authors: Mrs Lucas’ JBHS Marine Biology students, 2013
First page of Chapter 1of 4
First page of Chapter 1of 4
Food web
Food web
Sample of questions and artwork
Sample of questions and artwork
Marty and friends
Marty and friends
What you can do!
“How you Can Help!

____________________________________________

River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org) 

Inspirational Slogans From the River Kidz for Our Indian River Lagoon!

Say No to Lake O
Say No to Lake O

River Kidz was started in 2011 in the Town of Sewall’s Point  by two 5th grade girls, Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader after a public call to action by Stuart News/Scripps columnist, Eve Samples for “younger members of the Rivers Coalition.”  The group swelled to over 300 Facebook and event attending member by 2013. Today there are River Kidz chapters in St Lucie County and across the state in Lee County as well. These kids serve as an inspiration to adults.

I believe, politicians are changing water policy because of these kids.

Over the years I have collected and photographed their art work, slogan, and their letters to politicians. Today, I am going to share some of their slogans.  For fun and just to review, a “slogan” is defined as:

noun–

1. a phrase expressing the aim or nature of an enterprise, organization,or candidate; a motto.

2. a phrase used repeatedly , as in advertising or promotion.

and 3. (my favorite). A battle cry of a Scottish clan.

These slogans span from 2011 to 2014. They are from different children, including the students from the honors class at Felix A. Williams Elementary in Jensen; St Josephs Catholic School in Stuart, and the Pine School in Stuart. Public and private schools alike have embraced the message:  “Speak out, get involved and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”

Enjoy, and “stay strong” for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Save Our River
Save Our River
Keep It Like This
Keep It Like This
Move the Water South
Move the Water South
Our Water Our Future
Our Water Our Future
Maybe We Can Change the Law
Maybe We Can Change the Law
Stop and Think
Stop and Think
Let It Flow South
Let It Flow South
It's Not Always Black and White
It’s Not Always Black and White
Stop. Don't Trash Our River
Stop. Don’t Trash Our River
Don't Trash the Lagoon
Don’t Trash the Lagoon
Let it Flow South
Let it Flow South
Please Keep It Clean
We Love Our River So Please Keep It Clean
Why Pollute It?
Why Pollute It?
Stop Dumping
Stop Dumping
Stop the Discharges
Stop the Discharges
No! (to fertilizer) Save The River
No! (to fertilizer) Save The River
Why Ruin Our Future?
Why Ruin Our Future?
River Kidz first Art message by artist Julia Kelly: YOU ARE OUR RIVERS' FUTURE
River Kidz’ first art slogan by artist Julia Kelly: YOU ARE OUR RIVERS’ FUTURE

____________________________________________

*Feel free to use any photo or slogan.

River Kidz: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Artist Julia Kelly and the Second Edition River Kidz’ Workbooks, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Artist Julia Kelly's beautiful artwork will be featured in the River Kidz Second Edition Workbook. Her work was also featured in the first edition. (Photo 2014.)
Local artist, Julia Kelly’s vibrant artwork will be featured in the River Kidz second edition workbook. Her work was also featured in the first edition in 2013. (Julia Kelly, Photo, 2014.)

In 2013, the first edition of the River Kidz workbook was produced with help from Mary Anne Conrad, teacher at Jensen Beach Elementary, Nic Mader, River Mom and Dolphin Ecology Project, Julia Kelly, artist, (http://juliakellyart.com), input from the “Kidz,” and me, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.

The workbooks were a great success and shared in many of the Martin and St Lucie County elementary and middle school classrooms.

Cover of River Kidz, "Paradise is Home"  workbook, first edition. Artwork by Julia Kelly, 2013.
Cover of River Kidz, “Paradise is Home” workbook, first edition. Artwork by Julia Kelly, 2013.

(In case you have not seen the first edition,  electronic copies are available  at (http://riverscoalition.org) at the bottom of the page.)

Now, in 2014-2015, a second edition will be released. Exciting! But what’s the difference and why so soon?

Well, long story short, one of the projects that master-teacher Crystal Lucas did with her Jensen Beach High School (JBHS) Marine Biology II Class last year, during the LOST SUMMER, was a “rework” of the first edition workbooks. The idea was to have the older kids teaching the younger kids. A collaborative effort and from their perspective.

River Kidz was started by two fifth grade girls in the Town of Sewall’s Point in 2011, Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader. The power of the movement is that it comes from kids. The overseeing adults of River Kidz wanted to keep that theme going, but to bring it to a new level.

The JBHS students were in a position to do this because with Crystal’s leadership they had had extensive studies of the Everglades, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon in reference to discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the local canals, C-23; C-24 and C-25.  This education involved attending the Everglades Coalition Conference, studies with the Everglades Foundation, air boat rides in Lake Okeechobee with legends Nat Reed and Maggie Hurchalla/SFWMD, classroom visits by the Army Corp of Engineers’ Lt. Col. Thomas Greco, Marty Baum, the Indian Riverkeeper and many local and state elected officials including myself.

The students even won first place in the Keep Martin Beautiful Environmental Stewardship Awards  for their work on water issues!

Concerning the rewrite of the workbook’s first edition, the JBHS students decided first and foremost that there needed to be a mascot and a story.  They determined the mascot should be named , “Marty the Manatee,” and yes, this was inspired by none other than Mr Marty Baum! (http://www.indianriverkeeper.org)

So artist Julia Kelly was task to come up with a character and she did, even though she refused to put a mustache on Marty as the students requested because she felt “we needed to be wary of anthropomorphizing the animals.” The steering committee agreed, and Marty was born! 🙂

"Marty the Manatee" by artist Julia Kelly, 2014.
“Marty the Manatee” by artist Julia Kelly, 2014.

Through the JBHS students’ eyes, Marty tells the story of his ancestors’ former home in all its glory with the mythical Pond Apple Swamp at the southern rim of Lake Okeechobee, clean rivers, and a life with animal friends throughout the northern and southern Everglades.  He then goes into today’s struggle with overdevelopment, agriculture, sugar and agribusiness south of the lake, polluted water discharges, redirection of  water into the St Lucie/IRL and Calooshatchee from Lake Okeechobee, and other drainage canals, loss of seagrass, algae blooms and friend “die-offs.”  He gives ideas for a better, cleaner world and a happier future. There is hope! And that hope lies in the River Kidz, the future….

Marty the Manatee with all of his river friends. Julia Kelly, 2014.
Marty the Manatee with all of his river friends. Julia Kelly, 2014.
Apple Pond Forest.
Apple Pond Forest.

The workbooks will be a beautiful collaboration of student and artistic ideas that are sure to inspire generations to come. The goal is to have a fundraiser-grand-release party in November at Blue Water Editions, a division of Southeastern Printing, the invaluable local company that  will be printing the workbooks.

The workbooks are a collaboration, and River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition. The steering committee consist of Nichole Mader, Crystal Lucas, Valerie Gaynor, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Blue Water’s Jason Leonard.

Donations are welcome!

Bumperstickers promoting the workbook are available at Blue Water Editions, located at 4665 Se Dixie Highway, Port Salerno. (http://www.bluewatereditions.com)

More information will be forthcoming. But for now, enjoy the artwork and remember ALL KIDZ (and ADULTZ)  are River Kidz!

Our mission is to “speak out, get involved, and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers!”

Marty...
Marty eating, swimming and thinking…
Marty the wonderful and friendly manatee!
Marty with friends and family discussing wounds from boat hits, polluted water, and lack of seagrass…teaching the kids how to build a better world for him and the kids through creating a better water environment.