Ground Floor Farm: A Renaissance of Business and Life in the City of Stuart, SLR/IRL

Ground Floor Farm: A Renaissance of Business and Life in the City of Stuart, SLR/IRL

Making cheese at Ground Floor Farm in Stuart with hostess Lindsey Donigan, guests, and owner Jackie Vitale.
Learning how to make cheese at Ground Floor Farm in Downtown Stuart with hostess Lindsey Donigan, guests, and owner Jackie Vitale.
Located at 100 SE MLK Blvd. Stuart, FL 34994.
Owners Jackie Vitale, Micah Hartman, Mike Meier.
Owners of Ground Floor Farm: Jackie Vitale, Micah Hartman, Mike Meier.
The entrance.
The entrance to “the farm….”
Ed learning about growing greens.
Inside, my husband ,Ed, learning about growing greens with minimal and non-synthetic fertilizers.
Hydroponics is one of the uses on the farm.
Hydroponics teaches recycling and re-use of  water and how to avoid use of pesticides.
Busy Bees!
Busy Bees!

Over the past year, I have watched this new City of Stuart icon grow from the ground up, but not until yesterday did I enter. It is located right across the street from my father and brother’s law offices, Thurlow and Thurlow, so I have seen it many times. A large parcel that was formerly the Salvation Army is now painted green, fenced, and having a rebirth as the new urban chic “Ground Floor Farm.”

Yes, urban agriculture is hip and bringing a healthy, and community business minded spirit to the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon Region. Words like homesteading, self-reliance, chickens, and  interdependence ring with new meaning and inspiration. Making and growing your own food is cool. Hydroponics teaches about water quality, conservation, and re-use and no pesticides.

Learning how easy it is to make cheese from owner Jackie Vitale —the process of “curds and whey,” was the beginning of real understanding for me!

Link to video “Making Ricotta Cheese:” taken by Julia Kelly: (

The event was hosted by Sewall’s Point residents Dean MacMillian and Lindsey Donigan. They invited about sixty of their closest friends to “Come Down on the Farm,” to showcase and help people learn about Ground Floor Farm. Owners Jackie Vitale, Micah Hartman, and Mike Meier shared their story of Ground Floor Farm and their vision for a hip and sustainable future for the City of Stuart, and for Martin County.

It was an amazing evening seeing the younger generation teach and inspire the older generation.  As population continues to grow, and resources become more precious,  a sustainable path to the future is finding its place.  Such a path will continue to revitalize the City of Stuart, bring us all closer to home, and to each other. Kudos Jackie, Micah, and Mike for your creative business model and for your leadership!

To learn more about Ground Floor Farms if you have not visited stop by Wednesdays 3-7pm, October-May, and visit their farmstand. Their address is 100 SE MLK Blvd. in Downtown Stuart. To learn how to visit or become part: (
Like them on Facebook: (

THEIR VISION:“We want Ground Floor Farm to be a part of a hometown renaissance, in which individuals focus their energy and creativity on the places they come from and through which the importance of a vibrant community center is reclaimed and revitalized.
THEIR MISSION “Grow and produce delicious food and give others the tools and resources to do so themselves. Show that productive agriculture can take place in small spaces in urban centers and that it can be economically sustainable.
Provide the space and resources for others to use their talents, skills, and interests to engage their community.Curate an exciting and diverse program of cultural and social events that engage the hearts and minds of our community.” GFF

Touring the farm.
Touring the farm.
Ricotta cheese the group made all by itself was eaten along with other fresh foods for dinner.
Ricotta cheese the group made all by itself was eaten along with other fresh foods for dinner.
Deane MacMillan with Mark and Nancy Perry. Deane served as the chair of Florida Oceanographic.
Deane MacMillan with Mark and Nancy Perry. Deane served as the chair of Florida Oceanographic.
Jackie Vitale, Micha Hartman, JTL, Mike Meier.
Interested? Attend the Make. Share. Do. Summit:(
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

About Jacqui:

Although born at Travis Air Base, California, Jacqui considers herself a native of Stuart, Florida, having moved there at eight months old. Her father’s family, originally from Syracuse, New York, has lived in Stuart since 1952. Her mother is a 5th generation Floridian from Gainesville.

Jacqui is journalism and German graduate of the University of Florida, and an education master’s graduate of the University of West Florida. She went on to teach both English and German and after a serious accident of breaking her neck, started selling real estate. In 2008 she ran for the Town of Sewall’s Point Commission and has served since 2008; She is former mayor. During this time she saw the opportunity to help showcase the work of a locally formed river group, the River Kidz, and this has been her passion ever. She incorporates youth/river education into her political work for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Jacqui is the treasurer/secretary of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council; has chaired the Florida League of Cities Environmental and Energy Committee; was chair, and long time member of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments; is an alternate for the Water Resources Advisory Commission for the South Florida Water Management District; and a board member for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation. She also serves as an (ex-officio) board member for the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund, and is head administrator for the River Kidz.Jacqui is a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Jacqui’s reach involves not only local, but state and federal government. In 2013,  she served on Senator Joe Negron’s panel for the Select Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee. In 2014, she actively supported the elections of both Senator Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy who have both been strong supporters of Indian River Lagoon issues. In 2015, she is part of the Florida League Cities Treasure Coast Advocacy team. Jacqui received the Everglades Coalition’s prestigious 2015 “John V. Kabler Award” for “Grassroots Activism.” Most recently she has been recruited as a fellow by the University of Florida/IFAS’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute Class XV.Jacqui is running for Martin County Commissioner District 1, 2016.


Click link below to have your own electronic copy of Jacqui’s Aerial Photo Booklet: Lake Okeechobee Releases SLR/IRL 2013: (

Photos to share: 2013 SLR/IRL releases Lake Okeechobee, C-23; C-24; C-44 and C-25:

Link 1: (

Link 2: (

II. Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights from my blog, created my brother TODD THURLOW, ( These flights use Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images –flashing between “yesterday and today–give tremendous insight into water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region.

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (
2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect, ca. EDD/ACOE 1915-1923? (

7. Sailfish Point’s Erosion, Comes and Goes: 1935-1980 (

8. USCG Stations, Ft Pierce and Lake Worth, “Then and Now:” (

9. St Lucie Shoal and Mt. Elizabeth 1882 (

10. South Bay and Lake Okeechobee’s Altered Shoreline: (

11. Inlets of Hutchinson Island 1515-1900 (

12. C-44 Reservoir/STA once Orange Groves: (

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