Category: Feature Stories

Feature stories about different people, places and things

Statement by New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball on Unsolicited, Mislabeled Packages of Seeds Being Sent From China



“Our office has received questions from a few New Yorkers who have received unsolicited packages allegedly sent from China that are marked as containing jewelry (or other items) but which actually contain plant seeds. Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating. People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds. They should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access and email USDA immediately at for instructions. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. We will continue to monitor this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.” 

Anyone recieveing the mystery seeds should email USDA with their full names and telephone numbers, pictures of the package and any other relevant information. 

Tales from the End of the Road; Living through COVID19 in Key West Part 9

July 15, 2020:

I started to write “Quarantine Day [whatever] but we are no longer under quarantine, and I started back to work a little while ago. 

I went from not working for 100-odd days to working A LOT. I have not had the mental capacity to keep writing this journal. It’s deeply depressing to me to count and recount the ways in which the handling of COVID here in Florida has failed us. Nothing is changing for the better, people are getting sick at an alarming rate (every other day, it seems someone I know has tested positive for the virus), and I still have not seen any unemployment, so I was forced back to work, putting myself at risk for the sake of people’s dining-out pleasure. It’s emotionally and physically draining, but I don’t really have a choice right now.

So that’s where I am now. It’s definitely not all rainbows and butterflies down here in the Sunshine state, as I’m sure anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock can see. There’s not much else to say. I’m just going to keep working until we shut down again or I get the Coronavirus. Whichever happens first. Be safe, everyone!


Lauryn Lucy Brooke is a bartender who lives in Key West, Florida. Her favorite activities used to be traveling, scuba diving, and hanging out with friends. None of which she can do now.  Lauryn has a Masters Degree in Journalism from CUNY.

Garlic Scapes in June

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, it is the middle of June.  It’s been wet and gloomy and soggy, but it’s June.  Most people think of berries and asparagus this month.  I do too, but in my little world. I stalk my garlic (which was planted in Fall) for the “scape”.

First, a bit about garlic:

There are 2 varieties.  “Softneck Garlic” is the variety you see most at the grocery store.  This is the type that is sometimes braided.  Most of it in the grocery comes from China (and tastes like soap).  Softneck Garlic does not put up a flower, and it has many little cloves.

“Hardneck Garlic” is a heartier variety.  It has larger cloves, and it tastes like garlic.  In June, Hardneck garlic puts up a stalk that curls on the top.  This is called a “scape”.  If left to it’s own devices it would keep growing, and a flower would form on top.  That flower would then turn to a seed head and explode little tiny garlic seeds. They look like mini garlic cloves.  But we don’t let it get that far for a few reasons.

If you leave the scapes on, they will rob the developing clove underground of energy to grow.  Then there is the foodie part.  People search out farmer’s markets and farm stands for them. Only when they are still curved.  When they straighten out the stalk gets too fibrous.

The Scape is the hook looking thing shooting up the middle

Then you can do zillions of things with them.  They taste like a mild green garlicy goodness.  I chop them in the food processor, put them in those ice cube trays with lids and freeze them.  Then pop one in soup, stew, red sauce or whatever.  You can also make pesto out of them.  Roast them in the oven with a bit of olive oil for a side veg.  I’ve food processed them and mixed them in with hummus too.

Just remember, they are truly seasonal, get them while you can!  Mine are in my garden, but you can find them maybe at Weggie’s, and I know Singer Farms has them at some point in the season.

Now we wait til August for the garlic harvest!  -JAP-