Friday, December 31, 2010

The Royal Tila Tilapia Farm in Punta Gorda, FL


The Royal Tila tilapia farm was established in 2008 by Francis Dames. This sustainable fish farm in Punta Gorda, FL is an example of how businesses can put a stop to overfishing and make a profit at the same time. The year round operation is in the process of being certified organic and 100% green. This efficiency without the use of chemicals is possible through the process of aquaponics. Aquaponics is a process that uses the relationship of plants and fish together to filter out plant wastes and reduce toxicity. The wastes are then sold to be used as natural fertilizer.


The 7,000 gallon tanks above are part of the farm’s expansion project to help produce more fish to fulfill buyer’s demands. The fish that have reached preferably 1 1/2 pounds, are then shipped out live or fresh on ice.


The tilapia fish are fed algae based protein feed which is quickly renewed and replenished. The fish are raised without the use of chemicals so they are thus healthier for consumption. The biggest buyers of the farm’s fish are from NY and Houston. The demands for sustainable fish continue to grow as consumers learn more about the effects of overfishing on our oceans.


This fascinating system is part of the water filtration process that removes fish wastes. The cleaned water is then pumped back into the fish pools for reuse. This process reduces the need for harmful chemicals to clean the water. 

fish waste

This photo shows a closer view of the wastes that have been removed by the filter system. What once caused water pollution, can now be turned into a useful organic fertilizer.   

Visit the Royal Tila website at  

Special thanks to Jorge L. Pang for giving a tour of the Royal Tila tilapia farm.

Want to learn more about how you can help in stopping overfishing? Please visit Seafood Watch’s website for ideas. 

The articles in the links below shine light on a major problem that is hardly discussed; fishing “bycatch“. Bycatch means the commercial fishing boat unintentionally catches other types of fish while fishing for a particular species. These other fish typically die and are thrown away, resulting in a large amount of waste. This is the main reason that fish caught in the wild are not always the best alternative.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hydroponically Grown Produce at Rabbit Run Farm Fort Myers, FL

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Denise S. Muir is the proud owner of Rabbit Run Farm in Fort Myers, Florida. She is living out her vision of growing organic vegetables and fruits in a way that is quite unique. Her produce is not grown in the usual fashion, but is grown hydroponically without the need for soil. The plants grown hydroponically use a tenth the water of an average farm.


The rows of heirloom vegetables, strawberries, and tropical fruits are grown by using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. The nutrients are fed directly to the roots causing the plants to grow more quickly. Plants grown hydroponically can grow in gravel, sand, water, or even air!

Rabbit Run Farm currently has 30,000 plants on 1/2 acre, but still has 5 more acres for future expansion! The produce grown is sold to local restaurants and consumers who what healthy and organically grown food.


Seedlings get a head start in their own greenhouse setup. They are protected from harsh weather and are given the nutrients they need.


In need of a salad? Rabbit Run Farm grows a variety of blends including summer lettuce, arugula, Red Sails lettuce, and Swiss Chard. No need to worry about pesticides because the farm uses organic pest control methods.


Rabbit Run Farm also specializes in strawberries. It must be so much fun to pick all the fruit as they ripen. Row after row of strawberries are displayed just waiting to be picked.

eggplant purple eggplant

I’m a big fan of eggplant so for me it was exciting to see new heirloom varieties that I’ve never encountered before. They ranged from long slender white eggplants to round purple ones with a dash of white on the skin.

Zebra Tomatoes  tomatoe cherry

It was not hard to see that Denise Muir loves to grow tomatoes. She grows 15 varieties of cherry tomatoes, various heirloom tomatoes, and even a variety called the Black Zebra tomato which is pictured above to the left.


As the tour came to a conclusion, it was exciting to see the bees that flourish at Rabbit Run Farm. They do their part by pollinating the produce and in return provide Denise Muir with sweet, local honey. That sound like a good deal!

Special thanks to Denise Muir for the tour of Rabbit Run Farm. To learn more visit her website at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seneca Falls Historical Society Museum in Seneca Falls, NY


The mansion above is now the site of the Seneca Falls Historical Society Museum. It is located at 55 Cayuga Street in Seneca Falls. This 23 room mansion actually began as a one room wooden structure. It was Ellen Partridge who purchased the home in 1880 and renovated it to the current Queen Anne style. The Victorian home was purchased by the Becker family in 1890 who lived in it until Florence Becker sold it to the Seneca Falls Historical Society in 1962.

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Above are two structures that are visible in the mansion's backyard. To the left is the Seth Thomas clock that at one time sat upon the Hoskins Block as the town clock. To the right is the original Gothic Revival tool shed.


The mansion is furnished with original items that were owned by the Partridge and Becker families as well as reproduced decorations that would have been used during the time period. The drawing room pictured above was used by the family for special occasions.

tea set 

My favorite article in the house was the china tea set that at one time was located in the White House. It had been purchased during the Monroe administration, but then was given to Judge Sackett by the Secretary of State William Seward.

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The dining room was decorated in the Tudor style. It was once the area where the family would have enjoyed meals together and discussed events that had occurred during their day. The photo the the right depicts the fireplace which is decorated with a sunflower motif that was commonly used for decoration throughout the house.


The kitchen would have been the scene of much activity. I can only imagine how many hours the house servants must have spent in the kitchen as they prepared each meal. The main attraction and heart of the kitchen would have been the cast iron stove above. It had 6 burners and a side tank for a supply of hot water. What I found most interesting was that the tiles by the stove had worn of their pattern due to the servants walking over them so much.

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To the left is ice box which probably would have been kept separate from the kitchen since it was so hot in there. The gadget to the right is an old fashioned coffee grinder which was also used during the time period.


The Butler’s Pantry was located near the dining room. It was where final preparations for food would have taken place. The pantry’s features included a copper sink and marble counter top. The pantry also served as storage for china, silver, and glassware. From here the dishes received finishing touches right before being served to the family.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Homes of Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Stanton in NY

IMG_7092 Women's Right's sign

While traveling to New York, I was able to experience a variety of history. Seneca Falls was one historical city I was particularly eager to visit because it is full of history including the site where women’s rights became active. Before visiting, I readily absorbed information from our public library to prepare myself for what we would see. As soon as we stepped out the door of our vehicle, my eyes were drawn to the sign above which marks the site of the first convention for women’s rights. It was held July 19-20, 1848.

There was a lot that led up to this important convention. Like the formation of any house or structure, there has to be a foundation leading up to the completion. Two influential women that eventually called together the convention at Seneca Falls were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott They had met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London as delegates. Eight years later, they gathered women together at Seneca Falls. The Seneca County Courier announced the convention on July 14, 1848 as a “Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.”

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In 1847-1862, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family lived in Seneca Falls, New York. The home became a National Historic landmark in 1965. Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments declaring women’s rights. I find it interesting that this document was modeled after the Declaration of Independence. The document proclaimed that “all men and women were created equal.”

Me on porch!

I got to stand on the porch of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home!

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A river located across from Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house was the site of another women’s rights convention. The river now is occupied by a lock system. I was fascinated by the series of channels and it was my first time seeing a lock in real life.


Rochester, New York is the location of the Susan B. Anthony house which now is a museum filled with photos, memorabilia, and pieces from the Anthony family furnishings. It is open for tours Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m.- 5 p.m with the last tour at 4 p.m. For more info you can visit their website . Photography inside is not allowed so you will just have to imagine the interior for now.

This home was where Susan B. Anthony wrote, organized, and planned various details during her work for women’s suffrage. In the parlor Susan would have met with other famous reformers including Elizabeth Cady Stanton who formed a partnership and strong friendship with Susan B. Anthony. Together the two women formed the National Women's Suffrage Association. They spent 20 years speaking at suffrage societies across America and made a huge impact on the women’s rights movement.

Monday, November 29, 2010

“Elizabeth’s Secret Garden” Walks to Canada


In the last entry, I shared with you my experience at Niagara Falls. My journey did not end there though! My dad, sister, and me were filled with enthusiasm as we crossed the Rainbow Bridge which was our gateway into Canada. We did not use an automobile, but made the transit by foot.

I shall give two words of caution in case you also decide to make the same journey. First, check the weather forecast for that day before crossing the long bridge by bike or foot. (It looked clear when we started, but an hour later it started to sprinkle.) Second, make sure to bring change. It is currently $0.50 each way for pedestrians or those traveling by bike. We missed this important information and found ourselves lacking a quarter to reenter the USA! Thankfully there was a store nearby where we were able to get change.


The beautiful Rainbow Bridge was our key into Canada. We bypassed all the traffic by using our feet! The construction of Rainbow Bridge started on May of 1940 and was opened on November 1, 1941. The bridge abutments are 50 feet above water to avoid damage from ice in the winter.

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Welcome to Canada! Just grab your passport and push the door that says ‘Canada’ open. After approval from the authorities, you are free to pass into the country.

Canadian mountie Double decker bridge

Above to the left is a Canadian mountie and to the right is a double decker bus.

My visit to Canada was an unique experience and a chance to learn more about the country’s history. I learned that Canada is the second largest country in the world! It consists of 10 provinces and 3 territories. The current population of Canada in November of 2010 posted by Wikipedia is 34,600,000. The two official languages spoken in Canada are English and French.

 niagara falls

We had a great view of ‘Horseshoe Falls’ from the Canadian side. The water is so pretty with its greenish hue! The falls are a great source of hydroelectric power. The hydroelectric power produced in Canada is sold to the United States.

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When we spotted the Hershey’s Chocolate Factory, we just had to take a look. We shared some laughs as my dad picked up a giant 5 pound chocolate bar and pretended to take a bite. 

 secret garden restaurant

In the photo above stands Elizabeth Mann writer of “Elizabeth’s Secret Garden” in front of The Secret Garden Restaurant. I can just imagine that posted in a travel magazine! Who would of guessed that there was a Secret Garden Restaurant in Canada? It is a great place to stop while visiting Niagara Falls in Canada.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Niagara Falls State Park in New York

falls favorite

For every person there is something that stirs within them a thrill and a passion to do great things. This is what I feel when I travel or take on a new task. To go to new places, try new things, and dare to be adventurous is what moves the adrenaline through my body. I was made to be active and not passive. Not every day is adventurous and life is bound to be mundane at times, but when adventure comes your way embrace it.

I felt that thrill when I stood at the edge of the railing overlooking Niagara Falls. I had been there several years before, but somehow this was different. I seemed to have a new appreciation for this natural wonder. Time has not taken away the sense of awe over even the small things, but this was so much better than what I remembered seeing so long ago. The roar minimized the sound of my voice and it rang in my ears as I stood gazing at it.


Three thousand, one hundred and sixty tons tons of water flow over the falls every second. All that weight creates the roar that I heard. The falls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity. Niagara Falls contain the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and part of the Canadian Falls. The water from Niagara is used by both the United States and Canada for drinking, fishing, industrial cooling, and hydroelectric power generation. It is no wonder that in 1885 it became a national historic landmark.

The American Falls are 70-100 ft. (21-30 m) high depending if boulders are present at the base of the falls. The height is small compared to the width which is 1,060 ft. (320 m). Looking over the falls, I noticed that the water’s hue is a bit greenish. This is not a mysterious happenstance, but occurs through the process of salts and minerals dissolving from the fall’s power and thus being swept away unmercifully.

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Another key part of the attraction is Prospect Point Park Observation Tower. It allows for a trendy and modern way to view the falls. It is 282 ft. tall and has 8 million visitors annually. Now that is pretty incredible. Another option to view Niagara Falls is to go on The Maid of the Mist boat tour It is available for anyone who is adventurous and doesn't mind getting wet. Ponchos are a must unless you want to be soaked! The boat tour closes in late October, but reopens in May depending on the presence of ice.


To get another perspective, I walked to the top of the falls with my family. The walk up the stairway was a bit slippery and mist spewed forth from the grand waters (This is when a poncho would really comes in handy). When my heart beat quickened and the water’s thundering noise filled my ears. The changing colors of the trees increased the thrill of the experience. In this instance, I was not fearful of feeling small. It was quite the opposite for in feeling small it made God feel so big and gave me even more reason to be grateful that I can trust him in all things.

Traveling has taught me two things. Be flexible and be ready to embrace those spontaneous moments. Not everything needs to be planned. It is often the unplanned moments that we treasure most. Our mind goes back to them again and again to relish in the joy they brought us. That is the the beauty of memories. We can remember them whenever we please. So be ready to capture those spontaneous moments and when they do happen be prepared to enjoy every second of it. For it is those moments that make up what we call life.

Bible Verse to Ponder:      Jeremiah 17: 7-8

Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Read about more of my adventures!

My book contains 38 tours of state parks, national parks, gardens, butterfly conservatories, farms, including Niagara Falls! Each tour page contains photos, facts , and a personal review of the attraction. I’ve used my own photos to make the pages come alive. To support my work, you can purchase a copy or click the Facebook generated “Like” button.

United States book cover