February 2021

Areas of Interest

Our Farm of Loving Intention

John 13:34-35 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."


Hanker For A Hunka

This clip gives away our ages, but it’s rather timeless. Just like us 🙂

Anyhow, enjoy this old snack commercial. Reminder: Our Cheese Making Class on Saturday, October 26th. Go to the “Classes” page and register right now…

Fall 2013 – Cheese Making Class Announcement

first-graduating-classYour hosts…Melissa & Rick Stusek want to announce our next Cheese Making Class!

When: Saturday, October 26th, 2013 Time: 10 am – 4 pm


Heart Of The Garden Farms is hosting the Fall 2013 Education Series by kicking off the new season with our nationally recognized, Introduction to Cheese Making Class. Over the last few years, we’ve held the event at our farm in Myakka, Florida. Many of our prior students really enjoyed visiting the farm during their cheese making class, however we have since moved to the burbs in Bradenton, Florida.

In the meantime, we are really excited to announce our new class location in downtown Sarasota. We’ve secured the beautiful commercial kitchen at the Robert L Taylor Community Center. The kitchen has ample space, unlike our little farm kitchen, and so there will be plenty of room to get “hands-on” in the cheese making process.

Even though the space will easily accommodate 30-40 students, we are limiting enrollment to just 15 students in order to allow for participation of everyone in attendance. We’ve had dozens of new class inquiries and the upcoming date will fill quickly! We may announce additional fall dates, however our schedule is pretty crazy right now, so jump on this class without delay.

All you need for the class is a pair of comfortable shoes and a sack lunch. Refrigerator space is available for your lunch as needed. You’ll be on your feet a good portion of the class, although chairs are provided. We will provide lesson materials, recipes, bottled water and maybe some other surprises. Hmmm? We’ll see 😉

Registration is really simple. Click here to register!

New Cheese Making Classes Starting Soon

Fall 2013 Course Schedule – Cheese Making 101

Ok, yeah it’s been way too long since we last posted. We know. Too much life stuff to cram into this post, but we’re all well and plowing full steam ahead!

Melissa has assembled a huge list of requests for her cheese making classes and we’re just about ready to announce some upcoming dates. Be sure to get on our email list because the classes will fill quickly!

Click here to submit your interest in the Fall 2013 Schedule. See you all soon 🙂

New Year, New Resolutions

Yeah, we know. It’s been awhile. Much is happening here at Heart of the Garden!

We are announcing two (2) new cheese class offerings NEW DATES: 2/25 & 3/17. All classes are held on Saturday’s from 10am to 4pm. Space is limited to 6 students per class. Yes, it’s still taught right here in our kitchen.

Attention Cheese Lovers!

We are excited to announce a series of upcoming cheese making classes beginning this June 25, 2011. Click on the Classes link above to check dates and register for this popular class. We hope to see you here at the farm! Yummy…cheeeezzzeee.

Natural vs. Organic

Natural Vs. Organic: The difference may surprise you??

In perusing the CraigsList ads in the Farm and Garden section, I came across a great number of ads for “organic eggs” and found myself staring in surprise and what these well meaning folks call organic…free range, the ads said, fed “all natural feed” no hormones or antibiotics…well, folks, I have news for you. What would you say if I told you that “all natural” simply means no artificial coloring or flavorings…everything else is fair game?

That means that your “all natural” feed is most likely genetically modified and can be sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides, and fertilizers…the following is from a blog on the Countryside Naturals website where we order our certified organic feed for our dairy cows:

“There are no “All Natural” specifications determining how the grains are grown or what conditions the animal is raised in. You can use GMO seeds in “All Natural” products, spray whatever you wish on the plants and use whatever fertilizer you want. You just can’t use any artificial flavors or colors. As far as animals are concerned, you can pack as many as you are legally allowed into a barn or feed lot, feed them whatever you wish and give them whatever you want to promote growth. You just can’t add any artificial flavors or colors to the meat.”

OK, folks, see what I’m saying here? Don’t go getting offended on me, I speak as one child of God to another. We are being slowly but surely lulled into a false sense of security. If you have any doubts about this genetically modified stuff you’ve been hearing about, let me put it in simple terms. If you’re eating anything but one hundred percent certified organic food, then you’re eating genetically modified food or food that has been fed genetically modified feed.

The very process of genetic modification is violent, and unpredictable. We would assume there have been safety tests on genetically modified corn, cotton soy and canola for human consumption…well, there have been only a few human studies, and the findings were disturbing. Why don’t you know about these findings?  Because the FDA compliance officers, and other scientists who have been brave enough to tell the truth have been silenced, fired, stripped of their responsibilities, and in some cases threatened with personal harm for saying that these foods are not safe for human consumption and require more long term studies. I’m not a scientist, but here is an excerpt from Jeffrey Smith’s website, Seeds of Deception, giving a brief summary on genetically modified foods:

You may have heard the FDA and food industry claims that genetically modified (GM) foods are safe, properly tested, and necessary to feed a hungry world. UNTRUE! Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are one of most dangerous and radical changes to our food supply. These largely unregulated ingredients found in 60-70% of the foods in the US, are well worth the effort to avoid them.

Many consumers in the US mistakenly believe that the FDA approves GM foods through rigorous, in-depth, long-term studies. In reality, the agency has absolutely no safety testing requirements. Instead the agency relies on research from companies like Monsanto, research that is meticulously designed to avoid finding problems.

It’s easy to understand the FDA’s industry-friendly policy on regulation of GMOs when you see the revolving door between agency regulators and the companies they regulate. The White House mandate to the FDA (under the first George Bush) was to promote biotechnology and the person in charge of developing the agency’s policy at that time was a former Monsanto attorney, who later returned to Monsanto as their vice president.

The FDA has claimed it was not aware of any information showing that GM crops were different “in any meaningful or uniform way,” from non-GMO crops and therefore didn’t require testing. But 44,000 internal FDA documents made public by a lawsuit show that this was a complete lie. The overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists was that GM foods were quite different and could lead to unpredictable and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. It turns out that FDA scientists, who had urged superiors to require long-term studies, were ignored.

Even though evidence of this apparent fraud at the FDA was presented at a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1999 with major media in attendance, the media didn’t alert the public. In fact, most Americans know so little about this subject, that only about 1 in 4 consumers even know if they’ve ever eaten a GM food in their lives, even though the vast majority of processed foods contain derivatives from the four major GM crops: soy, corn, cottonseed and canola.

For more information on this very important topic go to


Friends, as I said, I am not a scientist, I am just like you. But down deep in my spirit, I know it is wrong to tamper with what God created. How could what He created, be less than or inferior? For that matter, why would we want to make seeds sterile after one planting? So we need to buy new seeds every year? Why?  Simple answer. Money, profit, greed. Why are we so complacent, why are we so misinformed?  We the people have to take responsibility for our current state of affairs. I meet people every day who express a feeling of unease and sadness. They are not quite sure why they feel this way. Well I know why. We are all God’s children and we have departed from His ways to our ways. Now we have people playing God claiming that what we He gave us isn’t enough, we need to “modify” His creations and then we’re surprised when we look around us and see devastation. Children with attention deficits, obesity, cancer, leukemia, mood disorders…Time to wake up and reclaim our God given genetic inheritance. He intended for us to be in abundant health. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Just the other day a woman showed up her at our farm, asking about getting in on the organic animal feed co-op we are running. She described how in forty years of working with and owning horses, she has never seen maladies like she is today. Lesions and growths on the horses that baffles the vet, and leave them saying “I have no idea what this is, never seen anything like it before.”  Just like the FDA compliance officers said and were promptly run out of town. Another woman described to me how her horse isn’t sweating properly, WHAT?  Sounds like the “unpredictable new diseases” are rearing their ugly heads. Wake up, look around, is this really the best we can do?

We can fight this battle without ever firing a shot. Run to the frontlines with us….Take your dollar and vote with it. Skip the Starbucks and support local farmers, and buy organic for your farm animals and your family! Natural, does not mean organic. Ask questions and take responsibility for learning more about where you get your food, how it is cared for and how it is fed. If you’re eating it, it matters!

Organic Animal Feed Co-op

Many of you who have followed our adventure here at Heart of the Garden Farm may not be aware that we have been hosting an organic feed co-op for nearly seven months.

We are resellers for Countryside Natural Products based out of Virginia. They sell a certified organic line of animal feeds that are non-GMO and soy-free. It is our belief that our animals deserve to consume organic foods just like our family, because in reality, they really are part of our family.

For details, visit the page called Organic Feed for details.

Design Your Local Farm

We have recently been brought to a place where it’s time to increase our commitment to the local, sustainable living movement. Many of you who have blessed us with your presence here at our farm, along with those of you who have vicariously joined us in our journey may appreciate the transition from suburban life to sustainable living.

buy localWe have received several confirmations since we began our adventure that we are being obedient in the direction God is leading us. Step by step.

So, here’s what we have in mind… We are asking that you participate in a project we are calling “Design Your Local Farm”.

This is your opportunity to share with us your dreams and visions of the ideal local farm. There are several components to consider when designing a farm because it should be a reflection of your aspirations, personality and capabilities.

To help kick start your thought process, you may want to answer the following questions:

1. What would your farm look like? (paint us a mental picture)
2. What animals, plants, buildings, equipment would you want on your farm and why? (I want chickens so that I can enjoy farm fresh eggs each day)
3. What is the inspiration for your farm? (childhood memories, research, etc.)

We are asking for your involvement because one of our principal objectives is to encourage those of you who desire the many rewards this lifestyle offers. We love sharing our experiences with you as each new chapter in the adventure is written. We plan on reviewing the results of this exercise with the hope of weaving in your input and putting it into practical application.

Our commitment to those of you who respond is an increased documentation of our activities through blogging, videos and email. It’s important for you to know that we have been richly blessed due to your feedback in the past and we are truly excited about keeping the dialogue alive.

If you are interested in participating, you are welcome to submit your comments and feedback anonymously and we will gladly respect your privacy. We have some special surprises in store for those willing to play along with us, so we ask that you hold nothing back! Be creative, have fun and you can submit as many comments as you’d like. In order to move forward, we plan on accepting submissions until the end of this month, August 2010.

Thank you in advance to those of you deciding to join us in this exercise. Maybe we can all receive a little inspiration in the process during a time when it’s so desperately needed.

May God Bless You All!

New Cheese Class – Sat. 7/24

The video below has nothing to do with our latest cheese class announcement on Saturday, July 24th, however it’s oddly humorous. Well ok, maybe it’s just odd. Anyhow, enjoy…

Click on Classes page to get signed up for the class.