While many counties will demonstrate support for environmental protection on Earth Day (April 22), thanks to the tireless efforts of community organizations and individuals, here in the Bradenton area protecting and improving the planet is always top of mind.
In fact, with every new event, project and area development, I have been proud to see it become part of our DNA.
From its award-winning, energy-efficient storm-strong buildings, to its native landscapes and crushed-shell sidewalks, Pine Avenue on Anna Maria Island is becoming known as “The Greenest Little Main Street in America” thanks to its historic Green Village (which has earned the Platinum LEED-Certification status) solar and geothermal technology, and rain harvesting techniques.
Its developers continue to push the destination ahead and took part in a tourism consultation with United Nations representatives responsible for developing a manifesto on sustainable tourism for UN programs around the globe.
The Bradenton area is also home to what might be the greenest winery in the country — Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery in Parrish. The family-run winery was the recipient of the first Green Business of the Year Award in 2013 from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. It uses only Florida grapes (no juices, concentrates or imports), and composts 100 percent of sediments from the wine-making process.
Not a single bottle of wine has left Bunker Hill in a new bottle because more than 26,000 recycled bottles are received from customers — including myself — annually. The winery also uses a solar-powered irrigation system, real cork, no labels and shipping containers made from recycled materials.
Area farms also help to set the Bradenton area apart. Dakin Dairy Farms, a sustainable, family-owned-and-operated farm, allows visitors to follow the milk from cow to bottle and enjoy the ultimate sustainable picnic experience. Nearby hydroponic farms Gamble Creek Farm and O’Brien Family Farms grow strawberries and other organic produce to be served in many area restaurants (that, in turn, recycle waste to provide the compost for the farm). At Mixon’s Fruit Farms, no orange goes to waste — oranges not sold in gift baskets are juiced and used in homemade ice cream. Even the orange peels are recycled.
I could go on and on about our many great area restaurants that source produce from these farms and whose leaders are involved in countless sustainable operations and place heightened focus on sustainably caught seafood.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our community and its leaders for the work they do to ensure the Bradenton area remains a sustainable destination. For others looking to join in, Earth Day is a great day to get involved.
Organizations like Keep Manatee Beautiful are always looking for volunteers to help clean, beautify and improve roadsides, shores, parks and neighborhoods all across the Bradenton area, but all residents can do their part by being more mindful of the impact they are having on the planet.
Thank you all again for helping the Bradenton area become one worth celebrating this Earth Day and always.