Back to Basics: Living the Organic Life in Brevard

In a world of consumer-oriented products and evolving technology, many individuals are heading back to the basics. But for some, the concept of going green is more than just a trend – it’s a way of life. By adopting organic and natural products, these Space Coast residents and businesses are on the cutting edge of the eco-friendly lifestyle, and they’re not turning back.

Our skin is the largest organ, and Susan Moore believes it should be protected.

In 2008, this Cocoa resident began a new workout regimen, implementing healthier foods and exercise. But her personal trainer suggested she also add organic bath products to the mix.

“I did some research and found that the average woman applies 200 chemicals a day before leaving the house,” Susan says. “I was shocked by what we’re doing to ourselves.”

Unable to locate an organic skin care line locally, she discovered a small company in Massachusetts, purchased it and moved it back to Brevard.

Beach Organics now features a Cocoa-based soap factory and warehouse, offering organic soaps, lip balms, bath salts, body lotions, shampoos, cream rinses and deodorant. Each product is formulated fresh and in-house with the help of an organic chemist.

“Take a look at the ingredients in your bath products – you won’t be able to pronounce a lot of them,” Susan says. “Everything you put on your skin eventually makes it into your bloodstream. That’s where we get a lot of our illnesses, allergies and cancers. Whatever you can do to make your life healthier is a step in the right direction.”

From Hawaii and Bali to Australia and the South Pacific, 28-year-old April Grover has traveled to places some only dream of.

But for each destination she visits, she brings a piece home to Brevard.

A professional surfer, April studied international business and design at the University of Hawaii before opening Island Inspiration, alongside fiancé, Lou Exline.

Their business, which features exotic home furnishings and décor, is housed inside Sun Harbor Nursery in Indian Harbour Beach, which April’s parents opened more than 35 years ago.

Products range from tables, benches and chairs derived from hand-selected plantation teak root to reclaimed wood pieces, mango wood carvings and antique boat furniture – each durable and unique enough to complement the Florida lifestyle.

“As a surfer, I’ve always been in tune with the earth and conserving whenever possible,” April says. “Our products are made from natural, sustainable woods and serve as functional art.”

April travels regularly to Hawaii and Southeast Asia to handpick every piece in her line, which she describes as “organic chic.”

“I love talking with the artists and hearing their stories,” she says. “It’s those stories that I can pass on to my clients.”

Healthy minds think alike at the Green Room Café in Downtown Cocoa Beach.

Opened in July 2009, the restaurant is the one-of-a-kind vision of Deborah Wright, an Orlando native and the mother of two.

Like many eco-minded people, Deborah entered the organic lifestyle one step at a time, switching out cleaning products and foods, then adding energy-efficient methods to her home.

Teaming up with some fellow eco-inspired entrepreneurs, she then opened a restaurant that followed these same practices.

The Green Room Café offers natural and organic sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups and desserts, as well as smoothies like the Sambazon Acai, served in a handmade bowl and layered with fresh ingredients like banana, strawberries, mango and honey.

Aside from the food, the 32-seat restaurant sticks to the “green” mindset by offering recycled take-out boxes and silverware, decomposable water bottles and a décor filled with repurposed furniture and local artwork.

“The only way to keep the concept going is with a like-minded staff,” Deborah says. “We’re innovative, creative and are constantly thinking outside the box.”

There’s no better way to ensure your foods are organic and fresh than to go straight to the source – the concept behind Melbourne’s Funky Chicken Farm.

In 2006, Suzanne Richmond and Andrew Malone turned their small-time farming hobby into a full-blown venture, offering live poultry, organic eggs and sustainable grow boxes to Brevard and beyond.

Primarily, the couple raises free-range, day-old chicks and other poultry, which, in turn produce natural, farm-fresh eggs.

Rather than caged, the hens roam the ground and eat fresh grass and seeds, so their eggs are creamier and higher in folic and fatty acids, Suzanne says.

The 10-acre farm is also home to goats, rabbits, pigs, composting worms and honeybees, which each contribute to the farm’s sustainability.

“Every animal has a job,” says Suzanne, who often provides interactive tours of the farm.

Organic grow boxes are another of her passions, which can feature several species of vegetables and flowers in one portable container. Suzanne hosts regular gardening workshops on the subject and also sells heirloom seeds and honey-based soaps.

Setting foot inside One Love Salon in Downtown Melbourne is like entering a world of individuality, nature and relaxation.

Zebra-print chairs and simplistic chandeliers offset brightly painted walls, while a color-mixing bar doubles as an organic tea station for customers.

The salon, which offers natural and organic hair products, was opened in 2008 by mother-and-son duo Samantha and Will Wiehl, who envisioned a way for customers to experience lavish services in their simplest form.

“We wanted to invest in something we knew was going to last,” Will says. “We’re a place where people can feel safe to experiment with their own natural style.”

But organic hair care isn’t their only claim. Its staff uses an all-green line of cleaning products, decorates with repurposed furniture and recycles old shampoo bottles.

The salon, which was formerly housed in a 1950s Victorian-style home down the street, switched locations in 2009 to a laid-back loft above Island Pasta Company.

The business is as inviting as it is active, attracting customers with its peaceful atmosphere and regularly open windows, overlooking busy downtown.

“They see the results, and so do we,” says Will. “We’re all about sustainable beauty.”

Growing up in the restaurant business, Lea Digiovanni and Dustin Barnes have always shared a passion for flavorful, healthy foods.

So when it came time to start a life together, the couple wanted to create a venue that offered the best quality products in the freshest environment.

Since 2003, Jungle Organic Restaurant & Market in Indialantic has operated with more than 200 vendors, many of them local.

Amidst its jungle-themed dining area, the restaurant offers wild-caught seafood, burgers, homemade soups and pizza. Every ingredient served – from the cream cheese in the Smoked Salmon Crostini to the basil pesto mayo on the Balsamic Eggplant Sandwich – is organic.

“Everything we serve in our restaurant is also available in our market,” says Dustin, who serves as chef alongside his fiancé, Lea. “We like to think of ourselves as a fun, healthy option for the new generation.”

Products, ranging from organic fresh-roasted coffee, wine and produce to dairy, bread and meats, grace the shelves of the market. There is also a vast selection of organic pet products, vitamins and health and beauty items.

“We’ve lowered our margin and are constantly adding new items to ensure affordability for our customers,” Dustin says.

The Root of Organics

• In the U.S., organic products are produced in a way that complies with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

• Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives and synthetic pesticides and processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions.

• Certified Organic, which many of the above businesses are striving for, means the items sold have been grown according to strict standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Certification includes inspections of farm fields and processing facilities, detailed record-keeping and periodic testing of soil and water.

Improve the Earth and Your Body

Explore these organic inspirations for yourself

Beach Organics

Call (321) 639-4902

www.beachorganicsskincare.com

Island Inspiration

920 E. Eau Gallie Blvd., Indian Harbour Beach

Call (321) 777-1400 for appointments to view the Titusville showroom

www.rootfurniture.com

www.antiqueboatfurniture.com

The Green Room Café

222 N. First St., Cocoa Beach

(321) 868-0203

www.greenroomcafecocoabeach.com

Funky Chicken Farm

3510 Hield Road, Melbourne

Call before visiting, (321) 505-4227

www.funkychickenfarm.com

One Love Salon

903 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne

Call (321) 327-5918

The Jungle Organic Restaurant & Market

2500 N. Highway A1A, Indialantic

Call (321) 773-5678

www.jungleorganic.com

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SpaceCoast Living is the premier lifestyle publication serving Brevard County, Florida's Space Coast.

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