If a river has the persona of a female, and if that river is also southern and distinguished and whimsical, then that river would sound like Victoria Freeman.
Victoria has spent most of her adult life as a teacher and a writer, and has never lived too far from the St. Johns. Today, she’s the proprietress of a historic B&B on the river shore in the Avondale section of Jacksonville. But if you take a deeper look, she’s so much more.
To begin with, she has invited six of her neighbors to each cultivate small gardens out on a spacious riverfront yard that was once covered with well-coifed---but environmentally useless---grass. My fellow gardeners call me “Vivi the Dirt Diva”, says Victoria, in a typical self-effacing comment. For their space, they all agree to garden organically and sustainability. “Vivi” has also formed a larger group of folks who grow their own food gardens in the neighborhood. “Pot, Patch or Plot is the ‘Urbfarmers United’ slogan,” says Victoria. Urb farmer is not “herb” misspelled, but is made-up slang for “urban.”
A “locavore” is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles. The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, since supermarkets that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.
“I do what I can to make folks conscious of their connection to the river. I encourage folks to stop using herbicides or fertilizer near the river by showing them what is possible without these additives. I let children’s groups come down and visit the garden and they are always magnetically attracted to the St. Johns. We talk about what they can do to keep it healthy.”