Ocala Style January '20

Page 1

JAN ‘20




Considering Ocala?

Great location with pastoral charm! 46 Acre property in NW Ocala. Gorgeous 3/4 home with open beam construction of tidewater cypress. Home is surrounded by a wraparound porch. Recently remodeled kitchen features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances including a Wolfe gas stovetop, 2 ovens, & wine refrigerator. Master suite with its own fireplace & bay window. Brick-paver center aisle barn with six 12x14 stalls. Completing this perfect package is a full home generator, round pen, 2 loading docks, 2 RV hookups, 7 paddocks, & more. Additional 18 acres available. $1,995,000

Minutes from World Equestrian Center & HITS Exquisite 37± acre equine estate. Beautiful Spanish style residence with wooden accents, tray ceilings, & columns throughout the home. 6 / 5 ½ home with room for family and entertaining. Stately chef ’s kitchen is open to great room & breakfast nook. Main-level master wing with its own entrance to the pool area. Equestrian Accommodations: 6 lush, irrigated pastures, round pen, 8-stall center-aisle barn. Manager’s home located near the barn. $3,200,000

This is Horse Country Pending in ays under 30 d

Bridle Run

Ridgecrest Estates

7.54 +/- Gated Acres. 4/ 3 bath turn-key home. Family room with cathedral ceiling, stacked stone fireplace and sliding glass doors leading to screen enclosed porch. Property is perimeter fenced with 4-board fencing plus storage building. $665,000

Private Gated Community Beautiful hilltop home on 3 acres. Spacious 3/2/2 home with office and 3 car garage. Open floor plan, gourmet kitchen with granite counter tops. Screen enclosed lanai and solar heated pool area. Equine friendly community. $550,000

Private Gated Home on 2 Acres

Meadow Wood Farms - 2.80 Acres

Beautiful builder’s custom 4/3.5 home features gourmet kitchen, 2 gas fireplaces, Brazilian koa wood flooring. 4th bedroom is so large that it could also be used as an office, mother in-law, etc. Salt water pool and travertine deck. Plenty of room for a workshop. $575,000

Gated entrance leads you to this charming 3/2 home. Cathedral cypress wood ceilings. Expansive kitchen with large center island. Family room with stone fireplace plus office. Attached 2 car garage, detached garage/ workshop plus covered carport. $369,000

If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call today! List your property with Joan Pletcher... Our results speak for themselves.

For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and more choices. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.

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Hunt Murty Publisher | Jennifer jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

Magnolia Media Company, LLC 352-732-0073

1515 NE 22nd Avenue, Ocala, FL 34470

Art Editorial

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Simon Mendoza simon@magnoliamediaco.com Brooke Pace brooke@magnoliamediaco.com

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER & VIDEOGRAPHER Carlos Ramos carlos@magnoliamediaco.com


MARKETING MANAGER Kylie Swope kylie@magnoliamediaco.com SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST & SOCIAL SCENE EDITOR Vianca L. Torres vianca@magnoliamediaco.com


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Sheila Gaspers sheila@magnoliamediaco.com Clif “Skip” Linderman skip@magnoliamediaco.com DISTRIBUTION MANAGER/SALES Sharon Morgan sharon@magnoliamediaco.com CLIENT SERVICES GURU Brittany Duval brittany@magnoliamediaco.com

EDITOR IN CHIEF Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com MANAGING EDITOR Belea T. Keeney belea@magnoliamediaco.com PRODUCTION EDITOR Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITOR Lisa McGinnes lisa@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Amy Davidson Dr. Todd Eichelberger Jim Gibson JoAnn Guidry Danielle Lieneman Cynthia McFarland Jill Paglia Patricia Tomlinson PHOTOGRAPHERS Amy Davidson Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Lyn Larson Philip Marcel Dave Miller Isabelle Ramirez Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATORS Maggie Perez Weakley Natalia Hubbert

Distribution Dave Adams Rick Shaw

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Publisher’s Note hen asked if I have any hobbies, I will quickly quip “food.” The embarrassing part is the question that always seems to follow is “Are you a good cook?” That’s when I reply with probably a little more enthusiasm or passion than the question calls for. “No, I’m just fascinated with food, eating it, reading about it, talking about it, and drinks too! Anything that tastes good—really—I’m interested to know why.” My quest for the next best taste hasn’t been a lifelong passion, but rather one I could finally afford as I became older and was exposed to the difference between food and those “This is best thing I’ve ever tasted” moments. I’ve learned through the years that my enthusiasm for food and fond food memories with family, or from travel experiences, is a subject that I can use to connect with people. Asking someone about their favorite food memory leads to learning all sorts of things about them. For example, growing up in our household, my mother, who worked very hard outside the home, kept meals nutritious but simple. She had a second job in the evening, so while we ate dinner together quickly, we didn’t linger at the table long. On the other hand, if Dad went grocery shopping and cooked for us, there was excitement watching him unpack the groceries, cook and entertain us with jokes that his cooking experiment might turn into dinner. On those nights, we stayed at the table longer, understanding it made Dad happy to see us enjoying his meal. To this day, I tend to eat too fast, like my mother always had to, but I definitely look forward to any chance I get to watch a good cook in the kitchen and all the joviality that usually comes with it. While working on this food issue, we found no shortage of opinions when talking with artisans who create the best tasting products or local chefs about where they like to eat on their nights off. We learned a few things. For example, have you ever tried a garlic cookie (see page 74) or savored the difference fresh vegetables make in a recipe? We are excited to share a small portion of the special talent and unique events we have in store for the fourth annual Ocala Culinary Festival, the best food festival in Florida. Some might argue that I may be biased and the title should go to the much larger in scale South Beach Food and Wine Festival, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. We have the same quality offerings as far as talent and taste is concerned, but with fewer people and more Southern hospitality, tipping the scale in our favor. I hope to see you all at the festival in March having one of those “It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” moments for yourself, because we all know that in good company, everything tastes more delicious.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher

C O N T Ins id e r








From a Feast Under the Stars to a rustic Fort King historical reenactment, the year ended with some memorable events.

Li vi ng





Our guide to some great upcoming events.

Get a glimpse into the most special days of our local brides and grooms.



You can grow your own fresh food without acres of farmland.

New models of exercise training can help in the aging process.

Fe atures







GETTIN’ HITCHED AdventHealth Ocala and a local farm family team up.





Even in the city, you can raise chickens.

Tips on spectator etiquette to make horse shows more fun.

This efferverscent beauty offers style tips on her blog, has a marketing firm and plans to open a boutique in Ocala.

This series takes an up close and personal look into families in the Ocalabased Florida thoroughbred industry.

From The Foodie Guide for sourcing locally produced food to the dish on new restaurants opening around town and a sneak peek of this year’s Ocala Culinary Festival, we’ve got gastronomic delights to please any palate.

E N T S Tab l e

79 84


CLEAN EATING Our food contributor Jill Paglia shares tips for clean eating.



ARTIST PROFILE: MARGARET WATTS With eight decades of experience, this skilled painter keeps family close to her heart and art.

The Fort King historical reenactment inspires this home cook to prepare food in a time-honored way.






Your guide to some of the best eateries in our area.


Cu l tu r e









Art expert Patricia Tomlinson dances around the subject of Flamenco.

The Red Sand Project brings awareness to human trafficking.

When it comes to making health changes, small sometimes works better than large.

For Glaucoma Awareness Month, we look at how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this sight-stealing disease.

With new physicians and expanded subspecialties, Radiology Associates of Ocala expands its radiology services.

A small gland located in the neck plays a huge role in your body’s functions.

COVER: Farm to Table Dinner at Swallowtail Farm. Photo by Dave Miller.

January ‘20





Social With festive feasts, rustic historic meals, champagne toasts and a downtown alight with holiday dĂŠcor, December was a month of celebrations. Photo by Meagan Gumpert

January ‘20



Matthew Wardell

Feast Under the Stars APPLETON MUSEUM OF ART Photography By Meagan Gumpert and Dave Miller


he Appleton Museum of Art’s “Feast Under the Stars” was an elegant, 1890s-inspired fundraising dinner that celebrated the Across The Atlantic: American Impressionism Through the French Lens exhibit. Marina Tucker and the Imperial String Quartet performed, and food and drink was courtesy of La Casella Catering and Republic National Distributing Company.

Ken Scott and Vanessa Scott

Museum Director Jason Steubur



Vanitha Gopalan

Mayor Kent Guinn, Jeanne and Jim Henningsen

Real People, Real S tories, Real O cala

Marina Tucker and the Imperial String Quartet

Rolando Sosa

Ocala Style’s Vianca L. Torres

Victoria Billig and Pamela Calero Wardell

January ‘20



A Fight for Freedom: Attack on Fort King FORT KING NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK Photography By Dave Miller


ow in its fourth year, this reenactment was a weekend of living history fun December 7th8th. From reenactors dressed as 19th century soldiers to members of the Seminole tribe to craftspeople who continue the traditions of blacksmithing, candle making, weaving and gunsmithing as it was done back then, Fort King came to life.



Mel Fiorentino

Real People, Real S tories, Real O cala

Justin Alesdek

Drake Arnold, Leslie Wengler, Angie Lewis

MAX Artini MAGNOLIA ARTS XCHANGE Photography By Meagan Gumpert


or its debut fundraising event, Magnolia Arts Xchange (MAX), together with Rotary Clubs of Marion County, hosted more than 150 guests for Artini on November 7th at Ocala’s historic Union Station. Local artists such as Justin Alsedek, Juan Carlos Cahue, Carmen Rojas Gines, Jordan Shapot and Maggie Weakley paired with mixologists to create a fun evening of artworks and art-inspired martinis, with live music by Left on Broadway.

Artist Mel Fiorentino talking with Paul and Renee Ware

Ben Payne

Maggie Weakley and Rich Schleicher

Karen Hatch and Bill Ness

Left on Broadway

January ‘20



Haylee, Aimee, and Jason Reyes

Kylee Paglia, Michael Paglia IV, Michael Paglia III, Michael Paglia, Loida Moore, David Moore

Champagne Dreams Gala TRANSITIONS LIFE CENTER & COMMUNITY Photography By Meagan Gumpert


he Casino Night-themed Champagne Dreams Gala fundraiser for the Transitions Life Center & Community was held November 9th at Hilton Ocala. It featured raes, silent and live auctions and entertainment by Charlie De, Ron Hackling and performance artist Dale Henry. Event proceeds will help grow the newly opened TLC campus and enhance programs for intellectually disabled adults.

Bre Torino

Charlie De



Jill Paglia, Ashley Sutherland, Lauren Diamantas

Linda and Michael Paglia

Real People, Real S tories, Real O cala

Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion County

Madison and Emily Winters

Light Up Ocala

CITY OF OCALA Photography By Dave Miller


n estimated crowd of 25,000 people and tens of thousands of holiday lights brightened downtown streets on November 23rd during Light Up Ocala. Highlights included the Jr. Sunshine Parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Whoville featuring the Grinch. Musical acts and street performers included Audio Exchange, Robert France, Swing Theory, Punch and Judy, Living Angels and Toy Soldiers, Santa Cirque and the Power Skippers and JiggleMan. Dee and Terri Michaelangelo, Joan Cross

Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

January ‘20



Coming Soon...




The Artimus Pyle Band Honoring the Music of Lynyrd Skynyrd

22 Top 40 hits and five No.1 songs












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January ‘20


Out & About A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events


Elvis at the Opry

The Orange Blossom Opry Weirsdale 2:30 & 7:30pm Dunnellon’s own Cote Deonath, one of the nation’s leading Elvis tribute artists, will perform Live From Memphis at 2:30pm and Elvis: That’s The Way It Was at 7:30pm on Wednesday, January 8th at the Orange Blossom Opry, 16439 SE 138th Terrace, Weirsdale. He will be backed by the Double Trouble Show Band. Visit www.obopry.com or call (352) 821-1201. Tickets range from $29 to $37.

Annual Magical New Year 10 6th Casino Royale

18 34th Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire

Gainesville Regional Airport Jan 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2 | 10am-6pm From jousting knights on horseback to the living chess board to the turkey legs, all your favorites return to the medieval village. Costumed performers entertain with singing wenches, aerial acrobatics and live comedy shows. More than 160 artisans from across the country offer one-of-a-kind blacksmithing, jewelry, stone and wood carvings, weaving, hand-blown glassware, leather crafts and period fashions. For more information, www.hoggetownefaire.com



Code Deonath photo courtesy of 49th Pl Productions

Hilton Ocala 7pm Veterans Helping Veterans celebrates its 6th Annual Magical New Year event honoring those who made our present possible and our future more promising. Enjoy dinner, dancing, live entertainment, silent auction and a raffle, all to benefit veterans in need in Marion County. Casino Royale suggested dress: James Bond glamorous. For more information, call (352) 286-9491 or jcd09@cox.net.

Entertainment Calendar Date Time Event



7:30 pm

Ultimate Def Leppard + Absolute Queen

Reilly Arts Center, Ocala


7:30 pm

Bellamy Brothers

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale


7:00 pm

Molly Hatchet

Savannah Center, The Villages


7:00 pm

Air Supply

Circle Square Cultural Center, Ocala

9& 10

7:00 pm

The Righteous Brothers

The Sharon, The Villages


6:30 pm

Easton Corbin Live in Concert

Rock Crusher Canyon Pavilion & Amphitheater, Crystal River


7:30 pm

An Evening with Leo Kottke

Reilly Arts Center, Ocala


7:00 pm

Neil Sedaka

The Sharon, The Villages


7:00 pm

Sounds of Soul

Circle Square Cultural Center, Ocala


7:00 pm

Branford Marsalis

Savannah Center, The Villages

20 & 21

7:00 pm

Engelbert Humperdinck

The Sharon, The Villages


7:30 pm

Sound of Music Sing-A-Long

Reilly Arts Center, Ocala


7:00 pm

The Four Tops

The Sharon, The Villages


7:30 pm

The Long Run: Tribute to the Eagles

Reilly Arts Center, Ocala


7:00 pm

The Brooklyn Bridge

Circle Square Cultural Center, Ocala


2:30 & The Marshall 7:30 pm Tucker Band

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale


7:00 pm

Joey Dee and the Starliters

Reilly Arts Center, Ocala


7:00 pm

The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra

The Sharon, The Villages


7:30 pm

Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group

Reilly Arts Center, Ocala


7:30 pm

Confederate Railroad

Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale January ‘20




Winter Horse Festival USEA Horse Trials Grand Oaks Resort, Weirsdale Jan 17-19 Horses compete under the grandfather oaks in three days of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. Admission is free. www.thegrandoaks.com

25 Hunt Country Horse Show

Grand Oaks Resort, Weirsdale Jan 25-26 | 9am-5pm Hunters and jumpers soar over fences and obstacles under the covered arena and through outdoor venues. Admission is free. www.horseshowsinthepark.com

Horse Festival Combined 29 Winter Driving Event

Grand Oaks Resort, Weirsdale Jan 29-Feb 2 A combined driving event with three phases of competition that include dressage, cones, and a marathon with hazards/obstacles. Admission is free. www.thegrandoaks.com



Alan Abele Photography Exhibit, Opening Reception


Lake Sumter Arts & Craft Festival


As Long as You’re Asking— A Conversation with Jason Alexander

Brick City Center for the Arts, Ocala 5pm Dunnellon photographer Alan Abele says taking the perfect photograph is a spiritual experience. The exhibit of his work runs through February 1. www.mcaocala.org The Villages Dec 4-5 | 10am-5pm Enjoy live music and great food as you peruse unique artworks including paintings, photography, glassworks and items from some of the nation’s best crafters. www.artfestival.com

The Sharon, The Villages 5pm & 8pm An evening of comedy, music and conversation with the affable actor best known for his iconic role as George Costanza on TV’s Seinfeld. www.thesharon.com

Ocala Grandview 31 AdventHealth Invitational Draft Horse Show

25 Wild & Scenic Film Festival



Florida Horse Park, Ocala Jan 31-Feb 2 Hitch teams of Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgian draft horses strut through the ring in a thunder of hooves at this second annual show. www.grandviewinvitational.com

Love of the Horse Ocala 5K

The Equine Medical Center of Ocala Feb 1 | 8am This inaugural 5K benefits The Foundation for the Horse, which is dedicated to improving the welfare of horses around the world. www.loveofthehorse5k.itsyourrace.com

Swamp Head Brewery, Gainesville 5-10pm Join the Florida Trail Association for outdoor screenings of 14 environmental and adventure films that illustrate the Earth’s beauty and show the challenges facing our planet. www.floridatrail.org

Mount Dora Art Festival

Mount Dora Feb 1-2 | 9am-5pm Stroll historic downtown Mount Dora while you view and shop the artworks of 300 fine artists from around the world. www.mountdoraartsfestival.org

19 Ballroom Dancing Florida Fun Mini Match

Circle Square Cultural Center, Ocala 10am Dance Dance Dance presents this exciting competition featuring dancers of all ages waltzing, tangoing, foxtrotting, salsa dancing and two-stepping all day long—complete with flashy costumes. Spectators are welcome. Proceeds from this event benefit Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, which provides therapeutic horseback riding and equine-assisted activities to people of all ages living with disabilities. www.mtraocala.org



Sunshine & Smiles in Ocala, Florida

Camellia Society 25 Ocala Annual Flower Show

Silver Springs State Park ballroom, Ocala Jan 25-26 This is prime blooming time for camellias in north Florida. More than 1,000 flowers are expected at the Ocala Camellia Society’s annual show and you can buy a plant or two while you’re there. Camellias are part of the tea family; many varieties are grown for their leaves only. But show camellias produce stunning flowers with velvety petals and a range of colors from snow white to pink to deep burgundy. They are hardy in temperatures down to the low teens and still handle the heat and humidity of our long summers here. Ocala Camellia Society chapter president Laura Perdomo says, “Camellias are very easy to grow, and do fairly well if left on their own. With just a little coddling though, they can be spectacular in your landscape.” Members of the public are invited to attend and may enter their own camellia blossoms for judging. Judging takes place January 25th, and the show will open to the public at 1pm that day. www.facebook.com/ocalacamellia-society

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Drone Course & Race Car Track • 8 Pools (including 1 indoor)

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*At least one guest must be 55 years of age or older to participate in our World Tour Adventure. All guests must be at least 18 years of age. A tour with one of our knowledgeable Sales Associates is required. Accommodations are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. A 3 Day/2 Night World Tour is $149.00; rates subject to sales tax. Offer can be withdrawn at any time. Must book stay by December 31, 2020. See Sales Associates for details. On Top of the World Communities reserves the right to change or withdraw any offer at any time. Prices, features and specifications are subject to change without notice. On Top of the World Communities LLC., Ocala, Florida a 55+ community. #13423 - 01/20

January ‘20



18 2020 Florida Manatee Festival

Crystal River Jan 18-19 | 9am-5pm Crystal River honors its most famous winter residents at the Florida Manatee Festival on January 18th and19th. Free bus tours, transport attendees to Three Sisters Springs where manatees gather and can be viewed from the boardwalk. Boat tours through Kings Bay will be available from City Pier for a fee. Three stages host live entertainment and a beer and wine garden and two food courts offer fresh seafood and local barbecue as well as epicurean delights and libations from around the world. www.gomanateefest.com


First Saturday Village Market


Ocala Cars & Coffee


The Big Hammock Race Series 2020 Run for Reading 5K


Olaf ’s Chili Challenge


Kimberly Morales’ Snow Party

Dunnellon’s Historic Village 9am The Historic Village Shoppes of Dunnellon offer fresh produce, plants, artisan jellies, vintage clothing and jewelry, hand-crafted items, photography and antiques of all kinds. www.facebook.com/dunnellonhistoricvillage War Horse Harley-Davidson, Ocala 8-11:30am Automotive enthusiasts gather together for a family-friendly meet with all kinds of vehicles, from classic cruisers to restored hot rods. www.facebook.com/carsandcoffeeocala

Tuscawilla Park Historic District, Ocala 8:30am Race #7 of the series benefits United Way of Marion County’s Reading Pals program. Runners can dress as their favorite book character for the costume contest. www.uwmc.org/runforreading The Beach Ocala 12-4:30pm Chili cooks from around the state compete in this fundraiser to benefit Sheltering Hands, a nonprofit cat rescue in Marion and Levy counties. www.shelteringhands.org Kirby Family Farm, Williston 10:30am-4:30pm It’s a day of winter fun for the whole family, with snow slides, train ride, carousel, bounce houses and a petting zoo to benefit the Kimberly Morales Memorial Foundation. www.kirbyfarm.com

25 Farm to Table Dinner

Swallowtail Farm, Alachua 4pm Partake in a unique, four-course dinner created around what’s fresh from the fields. Farm-totable cuisine will be prepared by the chef and crew of The Keys Grill and Piano Bar and paired with local craft brews and organic, biodynamic wines. Stroll the grounds and dine while you enjoy sweeping views of the farm’s rolling hills. www.swallowtailcsa.com



Country Club of Ocala 8am Run in this chip-timed race and then enjoy a kids dash to benefit the Public Education Foundation of Marion County’s Take Stock in Children mentoring and scholarship program. www.pefmc.org

30 Community Care Gala

Circle Square Cultural Center, Ocala 6-8pm An evening under the big top with unforgettable entertainment and upscale Americana fare to benefit the United Way of Marion County’s Community Care Fund. www.uwmc.org

Swallowtail Farm photo by Dave Miller

and S’mores 5K Run/Walk & 18 Sneakers Kids Dash 2020


You are cordially invited

to celebrate Ocala’s newest brides and grooms, get a glimpse into their most special of days and hear firsthand about the memories that will always hold a place in their hearts. Pictured: Kayla & Sam Boyle Photographed by Mahal Imagery

January ‘20



KAYLA & SAM BOYLE November 9th, 2019 Photography by Mahal Imagery Venue: Silver Springs State Park Her favorite memory: “The sunset fell on the trees and lit up the ceremony with golden rays as I walked down the aisle to my husband. With the calm spring glistening in the background, our friends and family watched while we exchanged our vows.”

EMILY & MATTHEW TELESE September 28th, 2019 Photography by Isabelle Ramirez Venue: Silver Springs Shores Country Club Their favorite memory: “What meant the most to us was having our wedding in the same location where Matthew’s parents were married 28 years ago, especially as his father passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016. Being able to celebrate in that location with our friends and family made our wedding a day we will cherish for the rest of our lives.”




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January ‘20



PUT RAYAN FIRST. Ocala Health has always been here for Rayan. Rayan Massini awoke in the hospital in a lot of pain. He was confused and didn’t know where he was or why he was there. He had no recollection of the severe motorcycle accident that almost took his life nearly one month prior. Rayan suffered many broken bones, two collapsed lungs, a broken pelvis and a lot of internal bleeding. “They didn’t think I could survive all the injuries,” Rayan said. “But the doctors at Ocala Regional saw that I was really fighting and did everything they could to keep me alive.” Rayan was hospitalized for three months, had multiple blood transfusions, surgeries and had to learn to walk again. A warehouse laborer prior to his accident, Rayan is also now thinking about going back to school for physical therapy or some other form of medicine. “The accident really opened my eyes and made me want to do more than I was doing – something better – for myself and for others.” See how we’ve always been here for you too at OcalaHealthSystem.com. 30




Leading Realtors po With expertise in residential, commercial, and horse properties, these real estate pros have the local know-how to meet your real estate goals.

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9 Leading Realtors Carol Krokel Showcase Properties of Central Florida Carol@ShowcaseOcala.com (352) 216-9322

“It’s not just a job.”

Carol joined Showcase Properties five years ago after three successful decades in the horse industry. Her professional history, interest in refined living, and Marion County residency since 1998 make a powerful trio. Carol has been recognized in each of the last five years with industry awards and earned her broker’s license in 2018. Carol believes buying and selling a home is a life changing experience, and values honesty, integrity, and commitment in her business.

Featured Listings

13+ fenced acres at the heart of horse country, complete with a spacious 3-bedroom, 2-bath custom pool home and numerous multi-use outbuildings.

Located between both Ocala and Gainesville, this updated 3-bedroom, 2-bath home rests on over 6 fenced acres with plenty of space for entertaining.

This farm rests on 16+ acres near the Florida Horse Park complete with a multi-story home, several barns totaling 24-stalls, and covered round pen.

2556 NW 120th Street $789,900

9540 NW 200th Street Road $375,000

16921 SE 19th Court $770,000

Leading Realtors


Stacy Larsson Hudson Phillips Ocala Properties stacy@hudsonphillips.com (352) 208-1760 “Integrity, professionalism and responsive to your needs in every transaction.”

Stacy Larsson has been a resident of Marion County for 20 years. She is an International Grand Prix Dressage rider and trainer, and runs Hidden Acres Dressage, a successful training and sales operation in one of the most prestigious areas of horse farms in Marion County. Stacy has parlayed her excellence in business and positive reputation in the equestrian world into building her thriving real estate career at Hudson Phillips. Since settling in Ocala in 2000, Stacy has watched Ocala grow and flourish.

Featured Listings

5 acre mini farm with immediate access to the Goethe State Forest! Two master suites, cathedral ceilings and ample storage! Bring your horses!

Beautiful 10 acre farm in the NW corridor! This pristinely kept farm is minutes to HITS and the new World Equestrian Center! 6 stall barn, mobile home and riding arena!

Victorian Estate on 22 acres! Stunning views with 4 stall barn, 3 bay garage and pool house! Perfect for a bed and breakfast in historic Micanopy!

7150 SE 117 Ter $360,000

14851 N HWY 464B $590,000

22620 US HWY 441 N $799,000

9 Leading Realtors Mary O’Neal Showcase Properties of Central Florida MONeal@ShowcaseOcala.com (352) 533-7324

“Hard work, determination, focus, knowledge, ethics, and loyalty.”

With 15 years of experience in the local real estate and equestrian industries, Mary O’Neal has proven to be an invaluable asset to her many savvy customers. Specializing in high-end residential and farm properties, Mary is a topranking agent within Marion County in farm sales and is an active member of the community. Those ready to find their place in Ocala’s Horse Country will be hard-pressed to find a better match for their needs.

Featured Listings


7211 NW HWY 225A Offered for $1,795,000


12450 NW 110th Ave Offered for $1,549,000


8219 NW HWY 225A Offered for $1,650,000

Leading Realtors


Tasha Osbourne Premier Sotheby’s International Realty tasha.osbourne@gmail.com (352) 613-6613 “Real estate by designextraordinary results every time.”

Offering white glove service to all, Tasha Osbourne has a stellar reputation throughout Central Florida. For the past 10 years she has built a relationship business, always going the extra mile, matching buyers with their dream home and helping sellers exceed their real estate goals. Tasha’s experience as a mortgage specialist provides expertise in all facets from negotiation to extensive market reach throughout her global network. Tasha exemplifies purpose, compassion, integrity and hard work providing a seamless real estate transaction from beginning to end.

Featured Listings

Immaculate & upgraded 4/2/2 home in a well kept gated community of Meadow Glen. This home offers a split bedroom design. Come enjoy this Florida lifestyle with a screen porch to relax in.

Elegant custom home offers unparalleled craftsmanship with J&J Builders Design. 4/4 Home. Almost 5K Living Sq Ft. Breathtaking views of agriculture greenery. Close to the new World Equestrian Center.

This 10.89 acre estate, Mediterranean style residence boasts over 6,800 total Sq Ft. with 5 bedrooms and a pool. Perfectly situated in the heart of NW Ocala, just minutes to the World Equestrian Center.

9559 SW 51st Circle $239,000

1873 NW 85th Loop $850,000

6190 W Highway 326 SOLD for $830,000

9 Leading Realtors Joan Pletcher Joan Pletcher Real Estate Network joan@joanpletcher.com (352) 804-8989

“Ocala’s the new destination. Let me show you why!”

In earning a reputation as the most trusted local expert in real estate, Joan has amassed more than $183 million in listings in Ocala/Marion County. As a residential, equine property and land development Realtor® since 1985, and a horsewoman herself, she remains committed to unparalleled attention and service for her clients. She enjoys ensuring a bright future for the community through her professional and personal affiliations. Joan is the trusted expert in horse farms and real estate.

Featured Listings

Location plus exceptional offering! Spacious 3/2 home. Tennis court, 4-stall show stable with apartment, paddocks, covered horse trailer & RV parking, dressage cushion arena and large workshop. 5 additional acres.

Best of Both Worlds! Location! 34+ Acres. 7,375 SF residence with 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 2 half baths. Exquisite pool area. 9-Stall stable with expansive garage for housing your boat, RV, cars and workshop.

Strategically located close to WEC and HITS. Show stable with 8 stalls. 4 Stall barn with hay storage. Incredible office, reception area, 1.5 bath and full kitchen. Round pen and 8 lush paddocks.

7545 S. Magnolia Ave $799,500

8500 SE 16th Terrace $2,975,000

7100 NW 110th Street $1,299,000

Leading Realtors


Melissa Townsend It’s All About You…Real Estate, LLC Melissa@YourOcalaRealEstate.com (352) 304-5687

“It’s All About You… is not just a name, it’s our company’s culture.”

As the daughter of a building contractor, Melissa learned about such things as surveying a future home’s elevation to hanging kitchen cabinets at a very early age. She also learned about attention to detail and developed an eye for design. These skills and her industry resources helped Melissa through four of her own historic home renovations and now play a key role in assisting her real estate clients. She promises to work “relentlessly” on clients’ behalf with buying or selling a home or relocating to the Horse Capital of the World.

Featured Listings

Gated Woodridge Estates! 3/3/3 Triple split bedroom home with two bonus rooms on 2.19 acres. Elegant pool, RV/boat storage barn, plus workshop building.

4/2/2 pool home in Coventry! Open floor plan with stainless appliances and fireplace. New roof, HVAC, and hot water heater in April 2019.

Landmark location! 1.04 acres with 71 lighted parking spaces and 8,000 sq. ft. of community business space. Building contains a fire sprinkler system throughout.

11281 SE 37th AVE RD, Belleview $549,000

540 NE 57th ST, Ocala $257,500

725 E. Silver Springs Blvd., $525,000

9 Leading Realtors Clayton Wagner Showcase Properties of Central Florida Clayton@ShowcaseOcala.com (352) 438-7656

“Building lasting relationships one transaction at a time.”

A true professional, Clayton’s ability to listen and understand his client’s needs have allowed him to achieve his client’s goals and exceed expectations. Clayton’s awards include Rookie of the Year, MultiMillion Dollar producer, and most recently, the Outstanding Achiever award for sales totaling $3 million dollars or more. Specializing successfully in both residential and farm sales, Clayton’s expertise in the local area and drive for excellence ensures that customers working with him are always well on their way to reaching their goals.

Featured Listings

On a spacious corner lot, this luxurious 4-bedroom, 3-bath home is loaded with amenities, including a custom, LED lit pool and summer kitchen.

The perfect blend of privacy and convenience, this 5+ acre mini-farm includes a custom pool home, guest home, and 4-stall center aisle barn.

This 100% renovated home rests on 22+ acres, with new 4-stall center aisle barn with feed and tack room, and new perimeter fencing.

4809 SE 33rd Street $494,900

7509 SW 93rd Street Road $499,000

10200 NW HWY 320 $694,000

Leading Realtors


David Williams Showcase Properties of Central Florida DavidWilliamsRealtor@live.com (352) 895-1000

“Real estate is my passion, excellence is my business.”

David Williams has nearly 4 decades of experience in the real estate industry, the majority of which were spent in Marion County. A licensed Florida real estate broker, David also has the GRI, CRE, and AHWD designations. As a former mortgage broker and property and casualty insurance broker and current CCIM member, David’s diverse experience in real estate and finance make for a great asset to buyers and sellers alike with their commercial and residential properties.

Featured Listings

This gorgeous 20+ acre estate has ample opportunity to become the perfect horse farm for multiple disciplines.

This cleared, corner lot is currently zoned R-O, with the potential to rezone to B-2.

This 1-acre lot is cleared and zoned M-2, with highway frontage and many potential uses.

9555 NW HWY 225 SOLD for $500,000

2350 NE 14th Street $49,900

0 NW Gainesville Road $69,900

9 Leading Realtors Cindy Wojciechowski Showcase Properties of Central Florida CJWSells@gmail.com (352) 843-2431 “I turn dreams into reality. Buy and sell with someone that works.”

Since being named Rookie of the Year in 2014, her first year with Showcase, Cindy continues to display her ability to get properties sold. She’s earned Outstanding Achiever status every year, with over $15 million in sales in 2019. Her $52 million the last five years has consistently put her in the top 2% of realtors in Ocala/Marion County. Cindy earned a number of designations including GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute), ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), and her broker’s license in 2018.

Featured Listings

126+ fenced acres of rolling pasture in Central Florida’s horse country with pole barn and large paddocks with runins.

On 16 acres in the NW region of Marion County, this property includes a 3-bed, 3-bath home and options for customization.

A picturesque mini-farm on 5+ acres, complete 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath home, pole barn, two pastures, new arena, and storage building.

7459 NW 193rd Street $1,500,000

11464 NW 60th Avenue $730,000

22815 HWY 329 $425,000


Home Grown By Jim Gibson Photo by Cassidy Phillips

You don’t need acres and acres of land to successfully grow some of your own food at home. January ‘20



ust the thought of farming conjures up images of endless acres of lush green fields, red barns with white rooster weather vanes and hot, delicious breakfasts served before the crack of dawn…but times are changing. Statistics show that 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas, and that number is on the increase. Backyards, rooftops, apartment living rooms, balconies, windowsills above kitchen sinks…you pick the niche, and it’s being used to grow herbs and vegetables inside even the densest urban areas. “Anyone can be an urban gardener,” says Maxine Hunter, residential horticulture agent with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Marion County. “You don’t have to have land or a lot of space to grow your own food in a home garden. You can grow anything that can be grown on a farm inside any urban setting, and what makes it so great is that it’s for everyone.” Urban gardens have long been government-friendly and are becoming even more so. A new law was recently passed in the Florida Legislature (HB 145) intended to encourage the development of sustainable cultivation of vegetables and fruits at all levels of production, including for personal consumption on residential properties. This would allow urban and rural residents alike to utilize not only their backyards for gardening but their front yards also. According to Hunter, the new law will help homeowners who have previously received pushback from homeowner association (HOA) regulations and municipal ordinances, although their

site plans may still need to be approved by the HOA review board.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hunter suggests that anyone interested in growing his or her own vegetables and/or herbs at home start with a little research and a solid plan. Where: “Decide the best place for your plants,” she recommends. “Vertical walls, lawns, patios, ledges… anywhere you can put a container that will hold a plant will work. Look around your home or apartment and determine what you have to work with. Utilize what space you have available.” Ideas include hanging pots, containers placed on balconies or in small enclosed yards, mini-greenhouses, wheeled containers that can be easily moved indoors or out, planters on outdoor walls or attached to windowsills and shutter gardens. What: “If you have the space, such as a backyard or small piece of land outdoors, then you can grow pretty much anything,” she explains. “If your garden is located indoors, then you need to plan carefully which plants will grow best in the space you have set aside. Find out what site conditions are best for the plant you want to grow.” Sunlight: “Light is essential. Plants need either a good source of sunlight for several hours a day or you can install LED lights,” Hunter says. “The price of LED lighting has come down, so it’s not overly expensive to set up adequate lighting for an indoor garden.”

and type of fertilizer (if needed). Should you want to use organic or natural gardening techniques, it is entirely up to you. Fresh to the table: It can’t get any fresher than plucked straight from the soil, washed in the kitchen sink, prepared on the countertop and placed on the plate. Homegrown food can’t be beat for simplicity and freshness. Access to uncommon foods: In a controlled environment, any food can be grown if the gardener wants to put forth the time and effort. Hunter reminds prospective home gardeners that fruit-bearing plants, that can be moved, should be placed outdoors whenever possible so they can be pollinated naturally by insects or birds. Although hand-pollination is possible, Hunter says nature can’t be beat when it comes to pollinating your homegrown plants. Improved nutrition: Statistics show that persons who grow their own food tend to have better nutritional habits than those who don’t.

Grow Together

Microclimates: “Small indoor and outdoor areas can have their own climates,” Hunter explains. “Inside your house, things such as air conditioning vents blowing directly on a plant or the amount of humidity in a certain room can greatly affect the way a plant grows. Pay attention to everything that might affect how your plant grows.” Know your plants: “Be familiar with the plant you’re growing,” she advises. “It’s important to know which nutrients are needed for each particular plant. When you grow a plant in an enclosed environment, you are its primary source of nutrients.” Why Grow Your Own Food Control: What better way to control the chemicals needed (if any) to grow your urban garden than to do it yourself? You choose the soil type, pest control methods

Some urban dwellers may have no yard, very limited space or simply find it inconvenient to grow plants inside their homes. In an effort to help all residents enjoy the convenience and health benefits of “home” gardening, many cities and small towns are establishing community gardens. Marion County is home to several such gardens. Although not all are the same in structure, most community gardens are similar in that they are shared plots of land, usually within the city limits, where residents can rent a small plot to grow their own vegetables or herbs. “Community gardens are growing in popularity,” says Jon Brainard, garden organizer for the Dunnellon Community Garden. “We provide an opportunity for area residents to rent a ‘bed’, a 4-by-9 plot of land, on which they can grow vegetables, cooking herbs or flowers. We provide tools if needed, some seeds and ongoing education pertaining to good organic or natural gardening techniques. Every six months we have experts come and speak on topics that pertain to different aspects of gardening.” Brainard is the Education Chair for the SuwanneeSt. Johns Group Sierra Club, which sponsors the Dunnellon garden. The group has agreed to continue that sponsorship for the next three years. The garden is located on land owned by the Dunnellon branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion County, and Brainard says that plots cost residents $20 per year or $12 for six months of rental. Each plot is outlined with concrete blocks and the area, including January ‘20


the cells in the blocks, can be filled with potting soil and used to grow plants. “Eight of our 27 beds are dedicated free of charge to members of Boys & Girls Clubs, who are assisted by seven mentors who work with them individually to teach the children how to garden,” explains Brainard. “Last year the club director distributed surplus vegetables during home visits to the surrounding community. You’d really be surprised how much food can be grown in a bed.” Visit www.dunnelloncommunitygarden.com if you are interested in renting a plot in the Dunnellon Community Garden. There you will find contact names, phone numbers and email addresses, along with a plot rental application and a list of the rules you must abide by when using the garden. “What makes community gardens here in Florida so effective is that our growing season is year-round,” says Hunter. “Different vegetables can be grown at different times of year so that a variety of fresh, nutritious foods are available at any given time. All around us there are areas called ‘food deserts.’ These areas may not have a grocery store within several miles, and this makes it hard or impossible for those who may not have access to transportation, such as the elderly or disabled, to get fresh vegetables. Community gardens can give these persons access to nutritious vegetables in two ways: they may be able to rent a plot and grow their own food, or someone else can grow food in the garden and distribute it to those in need.” According to Brainard, community gardens are about more than just food. “The garden brings together people of all ages,” he says. “Some younger children have no idea where 44


food comes from…it’s just something they see on the supermarket shelf. Older members get to spend time teaching these young people not only where it comes from but also how to produce it. Friendships are made and ideas are shared. People who would probably never connect in the community outside of the garden are being brought together and sharing a common bond.” Residents in Ocala can access the West Ocala Wellness Community Garden, located at 2200 W. State Road 40. The garden is a joint project between several organizations and government agencies, including the City of Ocala, UF/IFAS Extension Marion County, Florida Health Marion County, Heart of Florida Health Center, Generation Fit, Feed the Need, Marion County Children’s Alliance and others. Plots cost $10 per year, and residents can contact the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department at (352) 368-5540 for additional information. The new Belleview Community Garden, located in Mary Ann Cafaro Park at the corner of Southeast 56th Court and Southeast 107th Place near Lake Lillian, held its first planting in November. Thanks to community partners including the Fitness and Nutrition in Schools program, Florida Health Marion County, the Active Marion Project, Feed the Need and Earth Cube, 10 plots are available at $10 per year and include soil, seeds, plants and tools. For more information, call (352) 789-7658. According to “open access” academic publisher and UN Global Compact member MDPI, urban farming has grown by more than 30 percent in the United States in the past 30 years. The National Gardening Association reports that around a third of all U.S. households grow some of their own food and estimate that a 600-square-

foot garden (costing approximately $70 a year to cultivate) can yield about 300 pounds of fresh food with an estimated retail value of $600 annually. Recent studies have indicated that millennials are among the fastest growing population to embrace food gardening at home. We’d love to hear how your garden grows and see the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. Tag us on Instagram @ocalastylemagazine or Facebook and Twitter @ocalastyle with the hashtag #homegrownocala and share your stories and tips with us.

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January ‘20



Muscling in on Healthy Aging We talked with Brendan Egan, Ph.D., professor, researcher and avid athlete, who will be speaking at the Evening Lecture Series sponsored for the community and hosted by the Institute of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC). By Susan Smiley-Height


eclines in strength, power and balance can be detrimental in older adults and maintaining skeletal muscle function is critical to healthy aging. Brendan Egan, Ph.D., is engaged in researching new models of exercise training to increase body strength and muscle mass, combined with nutritional interventions. Egan, 37, was born in Detroit but his family returned to his father’s homeland in Ireland in 1986. “My mother launched me out of the house and into kindergarten at age 3,” he says. “In school I was a mix of studious and sporty. I played Gaelic games and soccer, and my academic strengths were math and physics. I entered university at 16 and completed my Ph.D. at age 25.” He says he was advised to pursue engineering but chose exercise science. “I later developed an interest in nutrition, metabolism and physiology, pursued a master of science in sport nutrition, and by then knew I loved research and the pursuit of lifelong learning,” he notes. “While my early research focused on molecular biology of exercise, I have come back to applied research in performance as the general theme and looking at optimization strategies in athletes and older adults.” He is now Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise

Physiology at the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University, Ireland. In 2020, Egan will be a visiting research scientist at IHMC, founded by Ken Ford, Ph.D. Headquartered in Pensacola, it has a campus in Ocala. Egan will live in Pensacola with his wife and their three sons. “A couple of years ago I spoke on a podcast on the same topic I’ll touch on in Ocala and one of the listeners was Ken Ford. Shortly after that, he was passing through Dublin and reached out,” Egan explains. “We had a lot of mutual interest around healthy aging and performance. Last summer I did a research stint there and I’ll be back in January to continue that work.”



The IHMC Lecture Series is a free community event. RSVP for the January 23rd lecture at www.ihmc.us or call (352) 387-3050.

Photo courtesy of IHMC

While my early research focused on molecular biology of exercise, I have come back to applied research in performance as the general theme and looking at optimization strategies in athletes and older adults.

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Gettin’ Hitched Powerhouses AdventHealth and Grandview Clydesdales team up to shake some new ground. By Belea T. Keeney


ombine more than 80 people, a gorgeous Florida day in late November, signature blue balloons, music and a 2,000-pound Clydesdale horse, and what do you get? The news that AdventHealth Ocala is coming on board as the title sponsor for the Grandview Invitational Draft Horse Show, which holds its second event from January 31st through February 2nd at Florida Horse Park and will then embark on a nationwide tour. AdventHealth President and CEO Joe Johnson welcomed some celebrated guests—including Florida State Senators Dennis Baxley and Keith Perry, along with Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, city and county officials, and a group of children from the pediatric rehabilitation unit of AdventHealth—at a press conference to announce the multi-year deal. The crowd was there to greet the celebrity equine guest, Earth of Grandview Clydesdales. Johnson shared the story of his family’s visit to the inaugural Grandview Invitational Draft Horse Show and was impressed with the “ground shaking” experience.



“We’re excited to partner with Grandview Invitational as we join the rich and storied history of the prestigious horse farms in Marion County,” he offered. “We are more than a hospital and this sponsorship is part of our commitment to make investments in this community and to build partnerships that allow us to welcome thousands from around the world to experience all we have to offer in Ocala.” Karen Cobbs is co-owner, with her husband Shannon, of Grandview Clydesdales and is the director of the hitch class horse show. “Grandview Invitational is very excited and honored to be partnering with AdventHealth,” she shared. “We look forward to working with everyone, and we are very excited for the future of the AdventHealth Grandview Invitational.” The show focuses on hitch classes that feature one to eight horses pulling carts and wagons. Wearing an AdventHealth blue horse sheet, Earth tossed his head, flopped his ears, showed his teeth, ate treats and happily posed for photos. He’s 18.2 hands (over six feet tall at his shoulders) and was also the Kiss the Horse for Literacy guest equine two years in a row. Draft horses are known for their calm demeanors, and Earth presided over all the activity with scarcely a blink.

For more information, visit AdventHealth’s news page at www.adventhealth.com and for tickets, visit www.grandviewinvitational.com

From left, Shannon Cobbs, Earth, Karen Cobbs and Joe Johnson


All Properties. All Price Points. Offering listings and services as diverse as the Ocala landscape, Showcase Properties of Central Florida is ready to help you through every step of your real estate journey. Our expert REALTORs® are leaders in the local market, and offer a variety of specialties– from residential properties, horse farms, vacant land, and commercial listings, to services for buyers and sellers alike. We’re committed to helping our customers through every step of the real estate process, no matter their goals. If you’re ready to Buy & Sell with Confidence, contact our team today to get started.

January ‘20





Home to Roost Backyard chickens are becoming a thing in Ocala’s city limits. By Jim Gibson Illustration by Maggie Perez Weakley


hy did the chicken cross the road in a downtown Ocala residential neighborhood? So it could climb into its covered, properly ventilated, clean and maintained, predator-resistant chicken house that was designed to be easily accessed while providing at least two square feet of living space per chicken. That’s right, through a new ordinance, the City of Ocala now allows residents to raise a maximum of six chickens per detached single-family residence within the city limits. And the aforementioned coop is all you need to get started. “We love our chickens,” says Fort King District resident Amanda Scacchi. “We have six and every one is a different breed. All are laying hens, and none of them are for meat…only eggs.” Scacchi says her hens lay, on average, five eggs per day, which comes to approximately 12 dozen per month. What her family of four doesn’t eat, she gives to neighbors and friends. “The ordinance doesn’t allow us to sell the eggs, so we give them away,” she explains. However, Scacchi’s chickens provide much more than just eggs. “The chickens are very much our pets,” she says. “My two children love them, and each chicken has a name. They play with them just like they would with any other animal. Most people don’t realize that chickens make great pets. They’re quiet, super low maintenance, they eat bugs and are very friendly.” Scacchi says her chickens were hand-raised from chicks and can be picked up, carried and petted by her children. The family cleans the droppings from the coop area once each week and occasionally lets the chickens out of their fenced backyard so they can range freely in the front yard. Each night the animals willingly go back into the coop, where they’re locked in to keep them safe from predators. Each morning Scacchi lets them out into the fenced backyard while she collects the eggs. According to the wording of the ordinance, animals can be kept for meat or for egg production, but the animals cannot be processed on the premises. It isn’t specified, but is implied, that if the animals were raised for meat, then they would have to be processed at a properly licensed facility or by the owner

somewhere outside the city limits. “There are hundreds of people in Ocala who are raising chickens at their homes,” Scacchi asserts. “Within two blocks of my home there are at least six houses where I pass by and see chickens in the yard. Hardly anyone knew it was illegal to have them before the ordinance passed, and now many still don’t know that they can go down and apply for a permit to raise them legally. The process is simple and it’s free.” Ocala is part of a nationwide trend of chickenfriendly cities. It’s an offshoot of the general selfsufficiency movement, in which people want to ensure that their food is raised in a wholesome manner without antibiotics, medicines or other additives. So what exactly does it take to raise chickens in an urban setting? “Chickens are inexpensive to raise. You have to build a proper coop and keep it clean,” Scacchi says. “The cost of building the coop is the main expense. I feed my chickens organic feed, but I would estimate that you could raise six chickens for less than $10 per month. When you consider how many eggs you get from laying hens, it’s very cost-effective to raise them.” The Ocala ordinance states that permitted properties will be inspected by code enforcement two times per year. Hens (female chickens) are acceptable, but homeowners cannot raise roosters (male chickens) ducks, geese, turkey, peafowl, pigeons or any other poultry or fowl. The requirements also dictate the chickens be kept in a fenced enclosure, and the coop and fenced run must be at least three feet from neighbors’ property lines. The area must be cleaned regularly and kept free of insects and rodents. No odors should be perceptible at the property boundaries, and the animals cannot create a nuisance in any way. According to city officials, only two residents have applied for permits to raise chickens within the city limits thus far. “Honestly, if this ordinance hadn’t passed, we would have moved,” says Scacchi. “It was that important to us. I wanted my children to experience raising different types of animals and learning all about animal husbandry. We had talked about it for a long time, and now, thanks to the city council, it’s possible for us raise them legally.” January ‘20





Sporting Behavior Not everyone who lives in the Horse Capital of the World is an equine expert. Here are a few tips on spectator etiquette at horse shows. By Belea T. Keeney Illustration by Maggie Perez Weakley


housands of equine athletes (and their humans) from all over the world come to Marion County to strut their stuff this month. Horses in the Sun (HITS) has ongoing multiple hunter/jumper shows, the Florida Horse Park hosts its inaugural Florida Horse Park Winter Classic and the second annual AdventHealth Grandview Invitational Draft Horse Show. Majestic Oaks Ocala will be hosting their Winter Horse Trials. Being a spectator at these local horse shows will give you an up close and personal view of the hard work and artistry involved with riding and showing well. If you’re new to the horse show world, there are nuances that will help make your attendance a pleasure for all involved. Unlike human athletes, who are familiar with items like umbrellas, baby strollers and fold-out chairs, horses are not and can be easily spooked when such items are hurriedly opened. Because horses are a prey species, their first instinct is to run from danger—fast. So it’s good to keep that in mind when treading near these beautiful creatures. Opening Moves Find out about seating ahead of time. Some venues have bleachers; some allow you to bring chairs or set up for tailgating. If you do use a fold-out chair or table, wait until the horses are out of the ring or walking away from you before pushing items open or closed. The same theory applies to using umbrellas or even fold-out strollers. They might look harmless to you, but can seem threatening to a horse. Try to limit your use of these items to after a horse has left the ring. Applause, Applause If you’re watching a jump class, hunter or jumper style, wait until the end of the round to clap. Many of these horses do wear earmuffs to block sound, but any loud noise might startle the team while they are moving through the course. Once they’re through the jump course and heading toward the exit, it’s all right to clap and show your appreciation. Similarly, after dressage tests, once the horse and rider have lined up in front of the judge and the rider has given a final salute, clapping is encouraged.

Ground Rules Show grounds will be teeming with horse and rider pairs and people leading horses around the rings, barns and show grounds. Always ask permission to touch a horse, and keep an eye out for the tail ribbons that denote certain types of horses or behavior. A red ribbon signals a kicker; yellow is often used for stallions; and green represents an inexperienced (and possibly unpredictable) horse. Make Way If a horse should get loose and/or unseat a rider, an announcer will usually come onto the PA system and say, “Horse loose on the course!” This should serve as a signal for you to stop moving and keep an eye out for the unrestrained horse. If you do cross paths with the horse, it’s not advisable to try and catch or block it. A loose horse is going to be frightened and will be moving erratically, in order to get away from any perceived danger. Good intentions aside, let its handlers deal with the issue and simply try to stay out of the way. Top Gear Since you’ll be outdoors for these events, you will want to take weather into account. Dress in layers and bring a jacket or sweater, in case the weather turns cool. You’ll generally do well in boots or well-constructed closed-toe shoes, which are much better for trekking through the dirt and grass you are sure to encounter at many venues, particularly if you’re following a crosscountry event and need to walk part of the course. Creature Comforts If the venue allows, having a cooler stocked with cold or hot drinks and snacks will allow you to nosh during the day. Packing a seat cushion will have you sitting pretty when visiting venues with unforgiving bleacher seats. Do your homework and find out what you can bring before you head out. That way you can thoroughly enjoy your day out…horsing around. For more information on area horse shows, check out our online calendar at www.ocalastyle.com/events

January ‘20






By Nick Steele Photography by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery


This month, we followed journalism student and entrepreneur Alexa Raven through the streets of town to get the inside scoop on what makes this effervescent beauty tick. We first spotted her at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, where she will wed the love of her life, Brandon Sulter, later this year. She will chronicle her journey down the aisle on her blog TheyCallMeLexx, where she also offers “big sis” beauty and fashion tips. And, while she’s already a “Girl Boss” in her own right, as the owner of Black Feather Marketing LLC, she also has future plans to put her stylish instincts to good use and open a boutique in Ocala. What is your favorite part of the day? Although I have more motivation at night, I love mornings. It’s so nice to wake up, make a warm cup of coffee and thank God for another day. Your personal style? Fun, feminine and chic. Beauty hack? Put your skin care products in the refrigerator. Not only will it help with reducing the puffiness and redness, but it feels 10 times better during application. Most regrettable beauty trend you once rocked? White shimmery eyeshadow with thick black eyeliner. Who let me out like that? What would a reality show about you be called? The Crazy Life of Lexx.

Where do you get your grocery shop on? I’m a farmer’s market girl. Nothing is better than supporting local businesses while getting fresh fruits and vegetables.

Best advice you received? My mom always tells me, “Don’t stress about the future because it has yet to exist.”

Favorite date night out? I love going on a picnic and then strolling the streets of downtown.

One thing you never have enough of ? Family time. My family is my world. And…crepes from Symmetry, LOL.

Favorite sweet treat? Anyone who knows me knows my favorite sweet treat is cookies!

Last, best purchase? Annual Disney passes! You’re never too old for the magic of Disney.

Favorite cocktail? Raspberry mojitos, all the way.

Favorite girly indulgence? Wine and cheese.

Comfort Food? Fruit crepes.

Most stylish place for drinks? Bank Street Patio Bar.

Favorite restaurant? Ivy on the Square Best gift you’ve received? My engagement ring.

Chair dancer? Heck no! It’s a whole lot more fun to get up and shake your tail feather! January ‘20


Jaqui de Meric Tristan de Meric



Ali de Meric Rice and her daughter Priscilla Rice

Nick de Meric


Much like the thoroughbreds they raise, train, sell and race, familial bloodlines often play a key role in the people who make a living in the business. This exclusive Ocala Style series takes an up close and personal look into the multi-generation families involved in the Ocala-based Florida thoroughbred industry.

By JoAnn Guidry



Photography by Alan Youngblood

or the de Meric family, the ties that bind are most decidedly of the equine kind. More specifically, the family business is pinhooking and training young thoroughbreds for the racetrack. The term pinhooking gets its name from the Kentucky tobacco trade, where a speculator would buy a farmer’s young tobacco plants, cultivate them and

later identify them with a pinned note at market. Buying the plants at a low price and later reselling them at a high price created substantial profits for the tobacco speculator. In the thoroughbred industry, pinhooking describes the practice of buying yearlings in the fall, starting and training them, and then reselling them in the spring as 2-year-olds. And like tobacco speculators, January ‘20


” the thoroughbred pinhooker’s goal is to reap a profitsays Nick. “I loved to travel and working with horses able rate of return on their investment. It is a high-risk proved to be an effective vehicle to that end.” endeavor, not suited for those lacking in horsemanship In 1980, Nick’s travels brought him to the United nor for the faint of heart. States, where he soon was hired by yearling consignFor more than three decades, Nick and Jaqui de or L. Clay Camp. He worked his first yearling sale in Meric have plied their trade as Ocala-based pinhookers Saratoga Springs, New York during the summer of and trainers. They bought their first yearling together 1981. That fall, he went to Lexington, Kentucky, to work to pinhook in the fall of 1982 and have been at it ever the yearling sale for consignor Lee Eaton. There he met since. Today, the de Merics are one of the most respecta young woman from western Kentucky named Jaqui ed and successful entities in the business. In 2019, Bazzel, who also was working for Eaton. De Meric Thoroughbred Sales was the third-leading Born in Connecticut, Jaqui’s family moved to May2-year-olds in training consignor in North America, field, Kentucky, when she was 10. The only one in her selling 90 head for $12,272,500. family who was horse crazy, Jaqui bypassed the usual And in the case of the de Meric children, the horsechildhood first pony and went straight to first horse. shoe didn’t fall far from the horse. Daughter Alexan“I was 9 when I got Duke, my first horse,” says Jaqui. dra, 34, who goes by Ali, and son Tristan, 32, are also “I showed him in 4-H and we did all the classes—Westpinhookers/trainers. Ali, with her husband Brandon ern pleasure, barrel racing, pole bending and English. Rice, a third-generation thoroughbred horseman, Duke was a great horse.” operate as RiceHorse Stables. In 2019, they sold 22 When she wasn’t riding Duke, Jaqui, an all-around juveniles for $959,000. Son Tristan and his wife Valery, animal lover, worked at the local veterinary clinic a French-Canadian horsewoman, have their own from ages 12-16. One of the clinic’s clients had Stanpinhooking/training business, selling 2-year-olds in dardbreds and she started working with them on the training as part of de Meric Sales. weekends. When she graduated from high school, Jaqui “Our children grew up immersed in the thoroughmoved to Louisville, Kentucky, working with Standardbred business. They came with us to the barn every day breds and American Saddlebreds. On a recommendaand were coming to the sales before they could even tion, she got a job as a groom for yearling consignor Lee walk,” says Nick de Meric, 65. “But we never pushed Eaton, meeting a certain Englishman named Nick de them to go into the business because it’s a very tough Meric at that 1981 Keeneland September sale. business. If you don’t “After the sale, Nick and have a passion for it, I were sent with a group of it’s not for you.” yearlings to Foxfire Farm in Jaqui de Meric, 58, Louisiana to get them ready agrees. “Thoroughfor a 2-year-olds in training breds were our lives, sale,” recalls Jaqui. “We so naturally that was lived for six months together the environment in a farm cottage we called Ali and Tris grew ‘Rancho Malaria’ because up in. But we just the mosquitoes were a big – Tristan de Meric let nature take its problem. And it was there course whether they were going to be in the thoroughthat Nick taught me to gallop (exercise) thoroughbreds.” bred business or not. We would have been happy either Once the horses were sold in the spring of 1982, Nick way, but, of course, are delighted they chose to be in the took Jaqui to England where they lived and worked thoroughbred business.” until returning to the U.S. that fall. While working in Nick and Jaqui had to work their way into the horse Ocala, Nick and Jaqui pooled their money to buy their business. While his family wasn’t in horses, Nick grew first yearling together, privately purchasing a filly for up in England where the horse culture is strong. He $15,000. They readied her for the 1983 Ocala Breeders’ began riding and showing ponies at an early age, quickly Sales (OBS) Company’s March juvenile venue, selling progressing to show jumping and point-to-point racing. her for $30,000. “I was keen for horses early on,” he explains, add“We thought we were rich,” says Nick, smiling. “We ing that he studied rural estate management at Royal bought a car, drove back to Kentucky and then got Agricultural University. “I decided to make horses my married that June. Before the year ended, we decidcareer. I really liked thoroughbred racing and was fored to move to Ocala and leased 80 acres at Stavola tunate to work for top trainers in England.” Farms for our pinhooking and training operation. We Nick also had a bit of wanderlust in him, working his were on our way.” way through East Africa, the Far East and Australia. In In October 1985, Ali was born and by September of addition to working with horses during his travels, he 1986, the de Merics bought their first 40 acres, dubbed herded cattle, picked apples and toiled in an iron ore mine. Manuden Farm after the English village Nick’s grand“I was a bit of a rolling stone, living out of my backparents were from. pack. It was a good education as well as a lot of fun,” “The farm was in terrible shape. The roof on the one

I learned everything about training thoroughbreds from my parents, from horsemanship to doing everything with integrity.



Jaqui de Meric with her grandson Nathaniel de Meric

January ‘20



Our children grew up immersed in the thoroughbred business. They came with us to the barn every day and were coming to the sales before they could even walk.



– Nick de Meric

Nick de Meric, with his grandson Nathaniel de Meric, leads other family members and employees to the racetrack on his farm

January ‘20


barn was collapsing and the only thing keeping the barn up was that it was concrete block. The paddock fences were falling apart too; one touch and they’d fall like dominoes,” recalls Jaqui with a laugh. “We lived in an 18-foot trailer and converted the bathroom into Ali’s room; we turned the bathtub into her bed. We used the bathroom in the barn. And, oh...I was pregnant with Tristan.” But the de Merics were committed and determined. Once the farm was renovated, they moved their operation to Manuden. Their family grew with Tristan being born in April 1987. Another child meant the need for bigger living quarters, so once they made a little money, a simple four-wall house was built. Each year, as their finances allowed, they added to the home until it became their dream house. In 1997, the de Merics bought an adjacent 230 acres that became their Eclipse Training Center. Ali and Tristan grew as their parents’ thoroughbred business grew.

Second-Generation Horse Trainers

Valery de Meric and her children Elizabeth and Nathaniel Brandon Rice and his son Preston



Ali inherited her mother’s black curly hair and outgoing personality, her father’s wanderlust, and both her parents’ passion for horses. “I remember being mad if I woke up and it was daylight because that meant my father had gone to the barn without me. I was about 6 at the time,” says Ali. “I was riding the pony (lead) horse to and from the track with the sets of horses by the time I was 11. I was galloping by the time I was a teenager. When I was 16, I started homeschooling myself so I could spend more time at the barn.” When she was 17, Ali was working at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale and was offered a job by a British agent and consignor. With her parents’ permission, she was off to England to work at the famous Tattersalls sale at Newmarket that October. It was the beginning of her travels working with thoroughbreds, her passport soon being stamped for Ireland, Canada, France and Japan. “I loved traveling and working with horses in different cultures,” says Ali. “And wherever I went, people asked me about Ocala and I would brag about the thoroughbred industry here.” In 2006, a unique bribe by her father slowed Ali down long enough to go to college. “My father told me that he’d bought a house in Tampa and if I went to the University of Tampa, I could stay in the house for free. And when I graduated, the house would be mine,” says Ali. “I took him up on the offer and graduated in 2009 with a degree in business management. Then I rented out the house before eventually selling it.” On her last trip to Japan in 2009, Ali brought along her fiance Brandon Rice. He is the grandson of the late Clyde and Jean Rice (Indian Prairie Ranch) and the son of Bryan and Holley Rice (Woodside Ranch). The two met as teenagers, not surprisingly at an OBS sale. After graduating from Florida State University with a

degree in finance, Brandon traveled for the thoroughbred business to Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai. “We started working together after we got back from Japan. We leased facilities at Woodside Ranch and had some early successes,” says Ali. “We got married in June 2012 and operate as RiceHorse Stables at Woodside Ranch in Fort McCoy.” In September 2014, Ali traveled with Jaqui, who was invited by the Korean Racing Association to South Korea to give a 10-day clinic on their breaking and training techniques. “It was great to have that amazing experience with my mother,” says Ali. Tristan de Meric grew up alongside his sister and was always happy to ride the pony horse; he just wasn’t as gung-ho as Ali when it came to planning a career in the thoroughbred industry. “I wasn’t interested in galloping horses like Ali was,” says Tristan, who is tall and lanky with his father’s reserved personality. “I liked baseball and, for some reason, thought I might like to go into the real estate business. But meanwhile I was working on the farm and at the sales. And I guess I didn’t realize I was soaking up more than I knew about the thoroughbred business.” Like his sister, Tristan homeschooled the last two years of high school. He took a few general courses at the College of Central Florida, but nothing in particular piqued his interest. Then, while at a yearling sale, his father had an idea. “My dad had my mom give me a sales catalog and she told me to go look at yearlings. She told me to grade them, by pedigree and conformation, and make what we call a short list of possible purchases,” says Tristan, who was 17 at the time. “I actually had a good time doing it and that’s when something clicked. That’s when I realized what I wanted to do for a career was right in front of me the whole time.” And, just like his parents and sister, Tristan met his future spouse Valery at—of course—a horse sale. Valery was working for Ocala-based consignor Eddie Woods at that sale in Maryland. The two have been married for nine years now and own a 52-acre farm situated between Manuden Farm and Eclipse Training Center. “I learned everything about training thoroughbreds from my parents, from horsemanship to doing everything with integrity,” says Tristan. “I love getting up in the morning and going to the barn. It was the way I was raised and I’ve come to realize just how fortunate I was to have had that upbringing.”

sports than horses. “Both Elizabeth and Nate are growing up coming to the barn,” says Tristan. “So we’ll see how it all plays out.” Ali and Brandon are the parents of Preston (3) and Priscilla (9 months). “Preston has two ponies, one to ride and the other is a companion for the other one,” says Ali. “He’s been coming to the barn since he was a baby, just like Priscilla is now. Right now, Preston loves to ride with me or Brandon on the pony horse more than he likes to ride his pony. But that’s likely to change as he gets older.” Nick and Jaqui, who are seasoned, fit and still at the barn at dawn each day, marvel at how it has all turned out. “We are very proud of Ali and Tris,” says Nick. “It’s enormously gratifying to see them enjoying being in, and having such success in, the thoroughbred business.” To which Jaqui adds, “And, of course, we love our grandchildren. It’s like watching Ali and Tris grow up all over again. They all bring us so much joy.” Yet another tie that binds. For more information, visit www.demeric.com From left: Pax and Duncan

Third Generation in the Gate

Now another generation is growing up the way Ali and Tristan did. Tristan and Valery have two children, Elizabeth (9) and Nathaniel (7). Elizabeth has two Welsh ponies and is already showing in hunter/jumper classes. Like his father was as a youngster, so far, Nathaniel is more into January ‘20


Delicious, decadent, and delightful, this year’s Ocala Culinary Festival focuses on local sourcing, heritage dishes and drink pairings sure to please your palate. Written and compiled by the Ocala Style editorial team Photography by Dave Miller ulinary talent from near and far are already dreaming up menus and planning pairings for Central Florida’s largest culinary festival. As it enters its fourth year, festival co-founder, Jennifer Hunt Murty, reveals the one ingredient that has led to the festival’s phenomenal success—quality. “It starts with the superlative talent who generously lend their expertise and love for food and drink,” Murty offers. “And then the quality offerings they bring to the table, because what’s being served to the festival attendees is always the chef ’s choice.” After two years serving as festival director, Morgan Willet adds that there is an intangible aspect also considered while planning the festival. “Yes, technically the festival is all about the food and drink, but we realize that it also has become about making significant new connections with people. One of my favorite things to watch unfold is attendees making new friends and the participating talent coming face to face with new fans without the kitchen or dining room as a barrier.”

Refusing to rest on the laurels of previous festivals’ success, the festival team has now set their sights on planning a lineup that brings new flavors, new ideas and new talent to Ocala. Here are some behind-the-scenes details of festival events that include some new faces and a welcome back to prior participants.

Women Wine Wednesday

“We’re raising a glass to celebrate Women’s History Month,” Murty explains. “Chefs Vicky Colas and Natacha S. Henry will kick off the first of five days by collaborating on a multi-course dinner, served to a small group and paired with wines produced by Caymus Vineyards.” Colas, originally from Haiti, attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami and holds a bachelor’s degree in hospitality restaurant management, as well as a master’s in dietetics and nutrition. Most recently, Colas was selected as one of 20 candidates for the 2019 James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program fellowship and is part of a select group

Chef Dimitri Pomakis and Chef Tony Deras



Returning Chef Digby Stridiron

of talented chefs in the foundation’s local food advocacy training programs. Henry, who is participating for a second year, also is originally from Haiti, and now lives in New York where she is a private chef. Henry loves sharing her Creole heritage at food festivals all over the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Through her catering company Icancook2®, she helps make Haitian food accessible to her clients. Many will recognize her as a challenger on a Season 5 episode of the Food Network reality series Chopped.

Flavors of Florida

On Thursday evening, festival attendees will enjoy Florida’s diverse culinary heritage with native Chef Randal White, who will serve the finest fresh produce, seafood and beef from Florida in a unique setting. Festival favorite Shelby Goelz will be returning to concoct libations using spirits distilled in Florida and Florida craft beer pairings during the meal.

Una Noche en Argentina

On Friday evening, the focus shifts to the food and wine of Argentina. Argentinean cuisine is typically described as a kind of cultural blend of flavors, mostly influenced by Italian and Spanish immigrants, as well as a love for beef. “Bring your appetite and comfortable shoes for this outdoor event,” says Murty. “And fair warning: Attendees may have a strong desire to tango.” Attendees also can look forward to even more spirited concoctions by Shawn Ford, “The Liquid Savant.” This northeastern Ohio native is a nationally recognized, award-winning hospitality trainer, operator and concept developer. Over the past 25 years, he has designed, redesigned, rebranded and launched successful food and beverage programs for more than 200 hospitality brands. Ford is well known as a resident master mixologist on the hit Paramount Network TV show Bar Rescue and for his hard work on behalf of several charitable organizations. Fun fact: Respected California vintners Caymus Vineyards ship grapes from Argentina to create a delicious malbec called Red Schooner. This wine will be one of the wines featured at Una Noche.

Feast at the Farm

“Sponsored by Showcase Properties for a fourth year, this Saturday night event is always the first to sell out,” Murty explains. “This year’s farm host is restaurateur January ‘20


Carolyn Wilson, who owns CW’s Gin Joint in Tampa. Chef Cody Tiner is assembling a team of culinary pros, including CW’s Gin Joint Beverage Manager, Daniel Bareswilt, to create what is sure to be another very memorable feast.” Tiner is executive chef of CW’s Gin Joint, (formerly Chef de Cuisine at Piquant in Hyde Park), and is a graduate of the culinary arts program at the Art Institute of Tampa. He was drawn to his craft while watching the women of his family cook up traditional southern dishes, as well as garden and preserve fruits and vegetables from season to season. He also tagged along with the men of the family on fishing trips, catching local bass, warmouth, bluegill and catfish, or going over to the coasts for deep-sea adventures, targeting grouper or king mackerel and whatever else they might catch. Tiner’s cuisine inspiration comes from a southern background, a passion for seafood and a firm grasp on French technique. Bareswilt is the beverage manager of CW’s Gin Joint. After cutting his mixologist teeth in Gainesville’s college bars, he relocated to Tampa to hone his skills. Most recently lauded as one of the 2019 World Class U.S. Top 100 bartenders, he is a prominent fixture in the trendy craft cocktail scene. Valerie Dailey, Showcase Properties CEO, attributes the reason the event sells out so quickly to the delicious dining experience set on a storied horse farm. “Those two aspects combined definitely stir up some excitement,” she offers. “Great memories and new friends have been made during these dinners.”

Grand Tasting

“This year we are switching up the vibe for the Grand Tasting by holding it at one of the most prestigious thoroughbred farms in the country, Bridlewood Farm,” Murty reveals. The Grand Tasting is the culmination of the five-day festival where attendees get to mingle with like-minded foodies, chefs, winemakers, mixologists and culinary folks and enjoy many choices of delicious food, wine, beer and spirits.” Check out part two of our series on the upcoming festival in our March issue.

For more information on the festival, visit www.ocalaculinaryfestival.com



Returning Favorite

Still reminiscing about the delicious success of working with Chef Brian Whittington of Preserved Restaurant in St. Augustine during the first and second festival years, the festival team was happy to announce that he’ll return to this year’s festival at the Grand Tasting on Sunday, March 29th. We sat down to talk shop (and chops) with the talented culinary creator. Tell us about the great growth your restaurant group has had since we visited with you at the festival in 2018. Since our last Ocala Culinary Festival, we grew again with the opening of Chop Shop, our artisanal butcher shop. The location is an old car shop that helped with the name Chop Shop and which obviously connects to food as well. The shop was another way for us to control all aspects of what we do along with providing quality product to our community while also pointing out that quality doesn’t have to be as expensive as other large chains push. Chop Shop has allowed us to help tell the story of the group by showcasing our region, its produce and the farmers that provide us with what we put on the plate daily. It also allows the community to provide better food for friends and family without the added costs of a sit-down restaurant. Both Preserved and Smoked [the barbecue joint] have grown as well with Chop Shop now doing all our meat

fabrication. It has allowed us more time spent on serving the guests without all the added prep work. What are some of the highlights of participating in the 2017 and 2018 festivals in years past? The two years I was at the Ocala Culinary Festival I felt motivated to perform at a higher level. Great chefs always show up and showcase their craft, and when you have others pushing to show off the Southeast it creates healthy competition and that always creates internal growth. We are stoked to return, as we felt we missed out not being able to be there last year. You’ll be representing your restaurant group at the Grand Tasting held at Bridlewood Farm this year. Any clues on what attendees should expect to taste? We always strive to explain why we do what we do, so guests can expect us to showcase the Southeast region, its culinary heritage and ingredients all while proving Southern hospitality has always been the heart of the culinary industry. For more information, visit www.striverestaurant.com

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January ‘20



Here’s our guide to some of the newest, most notable, quirkiest and most interesting food items, personalities, destinations, happenings and hot spots worth checking out in our area.

Jan Costa is a larger than life guy. With his booming voice and gravelly accent, this self-described “Italian Jew from New York” may not immediately seem like the type who would spend much time on a farm. But Costa and his intriguing story may just surprise you. By Nick Steele | Photography by Carlos Ramos


osta is the owner and driving force behind the Florida Fresh Meat Company—the largest independent “one-stop shop” producer of sustainable and humanely raised local meats in our area. It is a business he has built and grown by engaging a network of independent local ranchers and farmers. “We are feeding our community from within our community,” Costa likes to say. “Some of the livestock we own, but most of what we do is engaging members of the local community.” The model Costa has developed for his business is to partner with local farms and create mutually beneficial relationships that provide Florida Fresh Meat Company with meats that are then processed and prepared by his “old school” master butchers. Costa often goes the extra step of training the farmers to adopt sustainable practices, use humane animal treatment and make theirs a grass-fed, pesticide-, chemical-, hormone- and antibiotic-free operation. “It’s grassroots. Everything I do is within a 75-mile radius of Ocala. And the benefits stay here,” Costa explains. “The whole idea was that the best way to operate is to impact people from the bottom up. So I have families that do this. They earn an income so they can support their family and they feed their community. I’m really the hub. Everybody has to earn. Everybody has to make. I can’t be the kingpin making all of it, with you making nothing.” Costa insists that he wants his business to be fair, equitable and transparent. “People know what I charge,” he asserts. “And we put out a great product that’s viable and affordable.” His network continues to evolve as the business grows. When he ran into an issue with his pastureraised chicken farm partner, he found a solution through a little divine intervention. “My brother-in-law ran into a pastor at the feed store,” Costa recalls. “He was raising chickens at his farm and selling at the farmer’s market, but they were having a hard time.”



Scott Moore, who operates Wholesome Conversions Farms with his wife Melanie and daughter Samantha, explains that he was indeed at a crossroads. “I was headed to the feed mill in Bushnell and I’d been asking the Lord if we should stay in the chicken business,” Moore recalls. “I told him that he needed to make it crystal clear.” That’s when Moore met Costa’s brother-in-law, Dennis Walton, who received an urgent call, while at the store, to let him know his mother was being rushed to an area hospice. Moore immediately offered to minister to her and went along to pray with Walton’s mother. And while Moore was no longer focusing on the chickens, a connection was made that delivered an unexpected opportunity. Within days, Costa visited Moore’s farm and they’ve been doing business together ever since. What Moore didn’t know was that Costa also had been praying that day—to find a chicken farmer to replace the one he’d lost. And while tragedy brought them together, kind acts and fellowship led them to a mutually beneficial relationship. The Moore family went from having 27 chickens in 2013 to about 2,800 chickens today—making them one of the largest chicken farms in the area. Their thriving

business specializes in free-range and pasture-raised chickens, turkeys and ducks, as well as chicken and duck eggs. The flock, dutifully watched over by a group of Great Pyrenees livestock guard dogs, is fed an all-natural, antibiotic-free diet. “It’s farm to table, with no added hormones, steroids or antibiotics,” Moore says of his operation. “It’s as natural as you can get.” They now process and fill weekly orders for Costa and are part of the Florida Fresh Meat Company “family” business.

Hard-learned Lessons

Not surprisingly, how Costa first got into meat production is something of an interesting story. “I came up from south Florida in 2007 to get away from all the craziness,” he explains. “I’ve been coming to Ocala since the 1970s. My father had been here for 40 years. Then my mother retired from Miami and came up here with her husband. I figured this was an opportunity to get away. So I came up here on a twoyear sabbatical.” But Costa was about to run headlong into an opportunity that would put an end to his quiet central Florida existence. “I was in Gainesville one day, about 12 years ago, at my rabbi’s house and I was reading an article about the largest kosher butcher and slaughterhouse in the United States being closed down for hiring illegals.” In fact, 80 percent of the kosher meat in the United States was produced there, so once the plant shut down, there were empty store shelves across the country. “I’m a businessman,” Costa declares. “So I’m looking at these numbers and thinking, This has got to be a no-brainer! All I know is supply and demand. I was not a farmer, a rancher or a butcher. Long story short, after reading the article, I was ready to get back into business and here was the opportunity.” He wasted no time and found his site within a week. His headquarters is in Weirsdale, where he operates a licensed Florida Department of Agriculture butcher shop and processing facility. “I remember I called this one guy and told him I needed some cattle. He said, ‘I have 200. How many do you want?’ I said, ‘Just one.’ He laughed and said, ‘We don’t sell just one. We’re a cow/calf operation.’” “Forty years ago, Florida was a beef state. Three of the largest operating plants were producing beef,” Costa explains. “But because it became cheaper to put the animal on a truck and ship it to the Midwest than bring the grain in, we lost it. We became a cow/calf state.” Costa was determined to bring a piece of that beef business back and within six weeks he opened his kosher meat company. “I found a local feedlot, hooked up with the University of Florida and flew some guys in from New York to look at the plant. The processor came down, we did the walk around and we got the USDA. It was a very exciting day. You’d think it was Crown Heights here, because we had all the rabbis here walking around and praying..” But that day, when they processed 10 head of cattle,

only four qualified for kosher status. He soon learned that any sort of defect in the animal’s lungs would result in a disqualification and that raising cattle in a feedlot would mean consistently coming up against the same issue. “So here I am with 10 head, only four qualified, and only the front is kosher. Twenty-five percent of the meat is presold to guys in Miami. So I’m trying to sell all the rest of the meat. But in the meantime, it’s all hanging in the locker. I called every local meat market in town. I called everyone from Miami to Tallahassee. I called Cheney Brothers, Sysco, US Foods… And they all laughed at me,” he offers with a shrug. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was trying. This was 2009 and I spent every day of the year trying.” But Costa started learning fast. “I learned that meat doesn’t go bad, it ages,” he recalls. “And now I’m learning how to dry age a whole carcass. Most people just dry age cuts. I learned how to take care of the carcass in the locker.” But even with time, Costa could not make kosher beef a profitable proposition. “I flew everyone in again and we did another 10. Same thing happened,” he reveals. “I did that another four or five times.” Samantha, Melanie and Scott Moore, with Minnie

January ‘20


Coming Full Circle

“So the rabbi suggested, ‘chemical free and grass fed.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ The grass-fed stuff I’d eaten was tough, chewy and metallic. It was horrible. He says you just haven’t had the right beef. So it was either shut it down or find another way,” he admits. “Because I was stockpiling tons of meat. Costa began researching the topic, and met the owner of a 600-acre farm called the Four Arrows in 2009. “She had 200 head of Aberdeen Angus roaming around—big, beautiful, lazy, fat cattle,” Costa says with a laugh. “No hormones, no antibiotics, no pesticides, no herbicides, no grain. She had them in rotating pastures of clover, wheat, rye, millet, peanut, peas, beets, legumes.” He learned that the key to quality grass-fed meat is quality grass. Using just Bahia and Coastal is not going to produce a good result. When he tried to buy some of her cattle, she too laughed. “She said, you either take it all or you get none,” he recalls. “So I put the kosher business on the shelf. I realized I needed to learn grass fed, pasture raised and chemical free. And I applied everything I that learned that first year to grass fed, how to keep my kosher meat from rotting by hanging for up to 28 days. Now it was my standard operating procedure.” 72


Costa knew that with a non-traditional product, going the traditional route for sales wouldn’t work. “Instead, I thought, farmer’s markets,” he offers. “In January of 2010, I did the Ocala market and the Haile Plantation market in Gainesville. I had a pickup truck, a freezer, a step stool and a folding table. I got a George Foreman Grill, cooked up a pound of ground beef without any seasoning, cut it into squares and offered a taste on a toothpick. I still wake up every Saturday morning at 5 o’clock and do Haile Market. And they’re there, five, six, seven deep—people who have not bought meat anywhere else in the past 11 years.” His team operates at seven other markets from the Tampa area to south Florida. “I ship all over the state,” Costa asserts. “We do a lot of shipping. And we’re getting ready to put together a major online shopping program.” Over time, he has enlarged his network of farms and added pork, lamb, goat, chicken, duck, turkey, quail, alligator and rabbit, and eggs. “It was a slow start, but it was a deliberate start that gave me the foundation I needed to build an actual, viable, sustainable meat company,” he asserts. “Very few people have done what I’ve done. I got in when people thought it was just gonna be a fad. Now, I’m up against the big guys. I’ve grown and I’ve gotten smarter.” And it’s not just the public that thinks so. “Chefs started telling me, ‘This is great. Can you start supplying me?’ So I’ve got guys like Dimitri at Feta, all that meat on his menu. Pi On Broadway, the burger on Pi’s menu is mine. Loring Felix, who just opened the Fiery Chef, he uses my stuff.” Chef Randal White at Mark’s Prime Steakhouse is also a fan and gave a shout out to Costa’s quail, lamb and chicken when we spoke to him about where to find the best ingredients in our area. The Florida Fresh Meat Company website has a section that lists which restaurants and markets carry his products. And those farmers who laughed at Costa when he was trying to get started? “Now the phone rings. They ask, ‘Are you still interested? Are you still looking?’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll put you on the list.’ Because as I continue to grow, I’ll bring in the next farm and the next farm.” With more than a decade of success behind him, he is now ready to take his original dream back off the shelf. “Ten years later, we’re going to start the kosher program again,” he reveals. “Nobody is doing clean, chemical, hormone and antibiotic-free glatt kosher meat in the state of Florida. But I’m going to,” he continues, smiling proudly. “Look, I realized it takes more than just raising cattle to make great meat. There’s a difference. But I’m not giving away any more of my secrets.”

For more information, visit www.floridafreshmeat.com

There’s quite a bit of buzz about bees and one local farmer is carrying on his family’s honeyed legacy. By Nick Steele | Photography by Meagan Gumpert


y grandfather was a beekeeper,” offers 26-yearold Garrett McWilliams of Wild Honey Bee Farm when we encounter him at Circle Square Commons Farmer’s Market at On Top of the World. “He ran around 800 to 1,000 hives. I grew up around him and I have been around bees my whole life. He passed away when I was about 11. Then, when I graduated high school, I decided I wanted to be a beekeeper.” At that time, all of his grandfather’s equipment was still on the farm in Umatilla. “Nobody was using it and I wanted to put it back to use,” McWilliams recalls. “So I got about seven hives and learned how to manage them throughout the years and was able to expand to a few hundred.” With that, he picked up the family business in the same spot where his grandfather had labored. “That’s where I run my business, out of the same place,” he says proudly. “All our extracting is done there. These are some of his boxes,” he says, gesturing to the vintage, weathered crates he uses to transport and display his wares. “I like to keep bees the old-fashioned way I observed from my grandparents.” In addition to selling natural raw honey and beeswax candles, McWilliams provides pollination services for farmer’s crops and offers bees for sale. He also has a sweet deal for anyone with choice blooms. “To eliminate having to feed our bees, we go out and knock on doors and say, ‘Hey, do you mind if we set some bees here? You’re in a perfect area.’ We call it chasing the bloom,” he explains. “And a lot of people are OK with it. They’re like, ‘Absolutely!’ We give them a few cases of honey as rent. In late spring and summertime, it’s wildflower honey, which is gallberry and palmetto. Before that is orange blossom.” And as the weather turns, so does the path of the bees. “In the beginning of April, we go to Virginia to an apple orchard and make apple blossom honey,” he continues. “We pollinate the apple trees, because they have a shortage of bees. They rent our hives from us. That’s a service we provide.” He doesn’t produce as much apple blossom honey as the other varieties and packages it in smaller bottles, which makes it even more sought after.

By the fall, McWilliams and his bees are back to the familiar territory of central Florida. “Brazilian pepper blooms in the fall, from September to October. We keep following the blooms and that eliminates us having to feed them things like corn syrup or sugar water. That way, we’re always using a natural nectar source,” McWilliams reports. “After that, we get ready to go into blueberries in February.” His pure beeswax candles are not only beautiful and made from from the thin layer of new wax (called capping wax) that bees build over the top of the honeycomb and cured honey, they clean the air as they burn. “There’s no fragrance in them, but they’re not really meant to smell,” he asserts. “They’re quite amazing and they don’t emit black smoke.” But the honey is the star of the show and McWilliams reports that he has one variety that keeps people coming back for the health benefits as much as the sweet flavor. “Wildflower honey is what the locals are after,” he says. “The bees forage from a variety of wildflowers and when you consume pollen/honey from your area, it’s said to help ease allergy symptoms.” And while he describes his orange blossom honey as a classic, he says his Brazilian pepper honey is a hit among culinary types. “It’s not spicy; it’s actually a very mild honey that’s still sweet,” he explains. “Many of our customers like to use this honey for baking because it doesn’t have a strong taste, so it doesn’t alter the flavor of what they’re baking.” The Circle Square Commons Farmer’s Market takes place every Thursday from 9am to 1pm. To learn more about Wild Honey Bee Farm, call (352) 269-1621 or visit www.wildhoneybeefarm.com

January ‘20


Edie Gourmet Fromagerie

Let’s Eat Fresh

Written and compiled by the Ocala Style editorial team Photography by Carlos Ramos

Magnolia Bakery

Although this long established, classic Italian bakery and café is only open Tuesday through Friday from 11am to 5pm, this unassuming little gem offers a world of delicious delicacies. They have a small lunch counter with offerings like lasagna, ziti and homemade rolls to custom-made salads that can be enjoyed at one of the handful of tables or as takeout. Display cases are stocked with indulgent treats such as Italian cookies, pastries and cupcakes. You also can order beautiful wedding and themed party cakes. The shop is located at 1412 N Magnolia Avenue. To learn more, call (352) 207-2667.

Edie Gourmet Fromagerie

Edie Crupi describes her offerings as “upscale gourmet.” And, to ensure a more intimate experience, she changes the menu daily, “as if you were dining at someone’s home.” Crupi says she is best known for her signature onion soup, made with beef brisket and truffle mushrooms, with “nice” crusty cheese croutons, as well as her house pâté. Those who dine in or order takeout can select from a variety of soups, salads and quiches, as well as European-style picnic hampers, specialty breads, hand-dipped fruit and charcuterie, cheese and truffle boards. The shop, at 6998 NW US 27, Suite 107A in Ocala, is open 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday and 11am to 3pm on Saturdays. To learn more, call (352) 732-0357.



Let’s Eat Fresh’s garlic cookies

Our roundup of some quirky spots that with their mix of limited hours and intriguing gourmet goodies, are still totally worth a little urban foraging.

Mother and daughter Maria and Rosaria DelPrete are a dynamic duo and the force behind this catering company and licensed commercial incubator kitchen that allows area foodpreneurs, start-ups, bakers, caterers and food truck operators to take advantage of professional rental kitchen space while they grow their business. When she’s not busy working in the kitchen or teaching cooking classes, Sicilian-born Maria can be found at several area farmer’s markets (Circle Square Commons and Brownwood in The Villages), where faithful customers line up for their gourmet Italian dishes. The most popular item she sells—believe it not—are garlic cookies. “I did it for a joke,” she explains of the bitesized cookies she created for a customer who continually asked for more and more garlic. “She loved it! You can eat them with olives, salami or cheese…anything savory, in place of a cracker.” To learn more, visit www.letseatfresh.net or call (352) 299-5233.

Our road map to some of the best ingredients and food stuffs our area has to offer. Written and compiled by the Ocala Style editorial team


More than 50 vegetables, 25 herbs and nearly a dozen fruits are offered seasonally through the farm store at Crones’ Cradle Conserve Foundation, and they offer a weekly fresh produce basket subscription. www.cronescradleconserve.org N’ Season Farm is a family-operated fruit and vegetable store that has been growing locally for more than 10 years in Dunnellon, and offers hard-to-find varieties such as Italian dandelion and pak choi. Call (352) 817-9969 or find them on Facebook. Behind the produce stand at Fernando’s Organic Produce Farm on County Road 42 in Summerfield are rows of lush green plants carefully tended to by Fernando DeMarcos, growing in their natural state. Call (352) 615-4775 or find them on Facebook. LDH Farms in Northeast Ocala specializes in hydroponically grown veggies, and they also grow a variety of herbs. Find them on Thursdays at the Circle Square Commons Farmer’s Market or order online at www.ldhfarms.com


Betty Cakes Bakery & Café is known for its iconic handmade buttercream-iced cakes, which are available in a variety of flavors with custom decoration. The café, located inside Your Heart’s Desire, features scrumptious lunch offerings. Online at www.bettycakes.com

A new entry on the food scene, The Old School Ice Cream Shop on Baseline Road has a great selection of ice cream flavors, old-fashioned milkshakes and hard-to-find, Disney-favorite Dole Whip in pineapple and strawberry. For more information, call (352) 203-2384.


Bleu Basil uses a proprietary flour blend to create their standout fresh pasta in flavors including tomato basil and roasted garlic, and they can prepare almost any flavor you can imagine. Find them at the Ocala Downtown Market or online at www.bleubasil.com

Specialty Grocers

Earth Fare is not only a great spot to score a variety of organic, natural and fresh foods, but also for eat-in or takeout fresh sushi, specialty pizzas, hot food bar and salad bar. Located at 2405 SW 27th Avenue. Earth Origins Market has an extensive selection of grocery items and prepared food including organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, nonGMO, paleo and keto. Standout items include their acai bowls and smoothies. Located at 1917 E Silver Springs Boulevard. The pristine shelves of Key Food are still stocked with a treasure trove of Latin and Caribbean foods, but the ready-to-eat hot food counter and bakery are what will keep you coming back. Located at 1929 SW College Road.

Indian grocery store and café Hari Om is a vegetarian’s dream destination, featuring a plethora of gourmet ingredients and delicacies, great produce and aromatic spices. Located at 4120 SW 38th Court. Downtown, Stella’s Modern Pantry stocks a fun-to-shop variety of specialty items—from wine and craft sodas to gourmet sauces and candy and culinary tools—and features a cozy café to enjoy house-made salads, sandwiches, pastries and more. Located at 20 SW Broadway Street.


4 Star Farm in North Florida is a multi-generational family farm producing non-GMO, pasture-raised chicken, beef, pork, lamb, goat and turkey. Find them on Saturdays at the Ocala Downtown Market or online at www.4star.farm Harbison Farm Cattle & Produce is a family-run business that offers ground beef from their grass-fed cows as well as fresh veggies at their farm stand on Northeast County Road 329 in Anthony. For more information, call (352) 239-3552. Pasture Prime Family Farm in Summerfield is one of only a handful of U.S. farms that produce 100 percent grass-fed Wagyu beef. Order online at www.pastureprimewagyu.com or find them at The Villages Brownwood Farmer’s Market. For more information, call (352) 266-2660. January ‘20



e f s h C

Where They Eat When They Are Not Doing The Cooking By Nick Steele

“I’d rather go to someone’s home and eat their meatloaf than go out. I like home cooking,” Felix admits. “But when my son Christopher and I go out, we usually go to Carrabba’s Italian Grill, which he likes. He tells me, ‘No offense, Dad, but I like their Marsala sauce better than yours. I like their shrimp scampi appetizer.’” 76


“I really like Blackwater Inn (in Astor). They have great prime rib. We also like The Crab Plant and Charlie’s Fish House in Crystal River. Or we’ll go to the Lighthouse Restaurant (in Fanning Springs) for some Cracker food like smoked mullet dip because it’s something I don’t ever get! I used to have it growing up—it brings back some of that old Florida cooking. So I go over there and cheat.” “Locally, my favorite restaurants would be Grace Japanese Steak House and LaBella’s Italian Ocala,” Alabaugh offers. “I enjoy the sushi at Grace because it is freshly prepared and they use the highest quality of seafood. I also enjoy LaBella’s because they have the best stromboli in town and they have a great menu made from scratch. The location of LaBella’s also gives it perks. It has a great neighborhood feel to it.”

Illustration by Natalia Hubbert

“I really enjoy La Ceiba Latin Food Restaurant,” explains Deras. “It’s a local Honduran restaurant where everything is made fresh to order. The dish that reminds me most of home is the Pollo con Tajadas, which is perfectly fried chicken over green plantains and pickled onions.”



Moring lists her top picks as, “Mussels Al Diablo from Fiore’s Cafe, the veggie falafel burger from Pi On Broadway, the village salad and flatbread at Stella’s Modern Pantry and a gin martini, straight up with a twist, at Ivy on the Square.”


TABLES We’ve got the dish on some exciting new eateries and openings. By Lisa McGinnes


Photo courtesy of Shuckin’ Shack

e’re looking forward to four new restaurants opening this year from longtime Ocala resident and restaurateur Brad Harper. Eggs Up Grill, which will offer breakfast and lunch, will debut next door to Shuckin’ Shack, an ocean-friendly eatery committed to sustainably harvested oysters and seafood sourced as locally as possible. They’re set to open this month at Market Street at Heath Brook. The oyster bar will be a welcome addition to landlocked Ocala. The restaurant, which will also offer mussels, clams, crab legs, lobster, scallops and certified Wild American shrimp, will receive daily shipments of oysters— Harper promises not to serve any oysters more than 48 hours old. “My interest in Shuckin’ Shack is because of the way the brand ties in with the community and is environmentally friendly and charitable,” he explains. Harper also expects to open Locos Pub and Grill on East Silver Springs Boulevard in the next few months, and fan favorite Mellow Mushroom pizza in downtown Ocala this summer. Harper explains that the eatery is typically located in markets larger than Ocala, but the company took notice of how quickly our community is growing. “Ocala deserves some really good restaurants,” says Harper, who brought Zaxby’s to Marion County 20 years ago. He adds that he and his wife Jessica, along with business partners James and Sandi Clarty want to bring quality restaurants to their hometown. “We are thrilled with the way things are going in Marion County, and we’re very happy to be bringing these businesses to Ocala and to be part of the community.” Harper also helps to fund athletic programs and various clubs for Marion County Public Schools as part of his commitment to the community.

N ew & N

ex t

Recently opened Ocala eateries include the gorgeous Bank Street Patio Bar & Grill, which boasts specialty and top-shelf cocktails and fresh, locally sourced and healthy food; downtown bar and gastropub Black Sheep on Broadway, offering a full bar including craft beer, wine and cocktails and some delicious eats including burgers, sandwiches, sliders, wings and crab cakes; Ristorante Milano, which is drawing lots of praise for its scratch-made Italian cuisine on Southwest College Road; familyowned Sabores Latinos on Northeast 3rd Street, where they specialize in homemade Latin American dishes; and Chef Loring Felix’s The Fiery Chef, is now open on East Silver Springs Boulevard with gourmet prepared meals and salads, including paleo and keto, to eat in or take out and scratch-made broth, soups and desserts.

January ‘20




Envision 168 one-ton draft horses in the ring at the same time, along with 21 world-class hitch wagons, maneuvered by some of the best drivers in the industry. You can imagine what a marvelous undertaking it is to see this perfectly executed exercise in organized chaos. The pure power and excitement of this thoroughly unique equine spectacle is certainly one of the most awe-inspiring and crowd-pleasing horse events on the planet. ocalastyle.com

Jan 31st - Feb 2nd | GrandviewInvitational.com


Clean Eating The path to a healthier diet, like any worthwhile journey, requires a map and an understanding of the “rules of the road.” By Jill Paglia Photography by Meagan Gumpert

January ‘20




new year often inspires people to make lifestyle changes such as exercising more or adopting a healthier way of eating. For myself and other similarly minded folks, healthy eating is not a lofty notion tied to a once yearly resolution—it’s a discipline that begins with an understanding of which foods are in season when and where they can be locally sourced. The quest to gather these ingredients is like a modernday foodie treasure hunt into foraging. It’s a challenge for sure, especially when you try to get all organic ingredients like I do. It’s not a one-stop shop. So finding sources for those foods can require a roadmap of sorts. While there’s not a one-size-fits-all plan, I will share



what works for me and I’d love to hear what you discover on your own. Once you develop your network, it will allow you access to the best ingredients all year long.

A Season for Change

First, it’s important to know what’s in season. This time of year, seasonal produce includes basil, broccoli, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, cilantro, collard greens, onions, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini. Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, limes and oranges are also ripe for the picking. I buy as I go so everything is super fresh, though I

Jill visiting Fernando’s farm

sometimes buy extra amounts of things such as fresh blueberries and cranberries to freeze for later. They really do taste just as good as fresh. The fruits and veggies can come from farm markets or stands, or places like Earth Fare and Publix. For this story, I visited Fernando’s Organic Produce in Summerfield, where Fernando himself showed me his crop of high quality and nutritious vegetables. (You can learn more about his farm in our Foodie Guide on page 75.) True organic foods are actually regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The designation refers to a defined system of food production and processing that is designed to protect and improve our environment and, in turn, create healthier foods. There is the same sort of system used in regulating animal welfare within the food industry. The production of organic food also

is designed to protect our natural resources, such as land and water. And you should look for bugs. Really! If there are bugs or evidence that they’ve been munching on the leaves, that’s a good sign. If there are no holes in the leaves, then the farmer is probably using chemical pesticides.

Meaty Issues

Passing on processed foods to focus on eating whole foods that are as close to their natural form as possible is one way I maintain a healthy diet. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do favor a more plant-based diet. When shopping for meat, eggs and fish, here are a few of my tips: You can find local, pasture-raised meats at providers such as Pasture Prime Family Farm and 4 Star Farm. (See more about them on page 75.) January ‘20


Fruit Cup with Citrus Sauce 1 1/2 cups chopped apples 1 cup orange segments, cut into thirds 1 cup granola 1 cup sliced kiwi 3/4 cup orange juice 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut chips 1/4 cup chopped pecans 1/4 cup white wine or white grape juice 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon sugar Fresh mint, optional

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, wine or grape juice, lemon juice and sugar and mix well. In a larger bowl, combine the fruit; add the juice mixture and toss to coat. In a pretty bowl or crystal serving dish, sprinkle the bottom with granola and top with the fruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. To serve, sprinkle on the coconut chips and pecans, then garnish with mint if desired.




For eggs, I suggest making friends with people who raise chickens or look for local chicken farmers at area farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets also usually have good goat cheese. Stella’s Modern Pantry in downtown Ocala has great cured meats that are super fresh.

Prepared for Success

Once you get all these great fruits and veggies home, I recommend not stashing them in the fridge right away, but instead, take the time to clean, cut and prepare them for eating or cooking and store them in glass jars or whatever containers work best for you. This little bit of initial work pays off in a couple of key ways. First, when it’s time to prepare a meal, your prep work is done and you’re ready to get cooking. It’s a big time saver and makes the idea of preparing dinner a little less daunting— so you’re less likely to give in to getting pizza or some tempting fried food delivered. I also find it helps me avoid pulling out the potato chips when craving a snack, because I have so many healthy options ready to munch on. And keeping fresh hummus and guacamole on hand will kick your snacking up a notch.

The Right Start

Since breakfast sets up your eating pattern for the rest of the day, I wanted to focus on a simple and healthy breakfast casserole and fruit cup that highlight organic meats, cheeses, vegetables and fruits that are locally sourced and seasonal. I’m also a fan of being adventurous in substituting ingredients. For my breakfast casserole I used organic sausage made from pasture-raised pigs, purchased at a local supermarket. You could, however, swap in chicken sausage or turkey bacon. I hope I’ve inspired you to discover all the great food resources that our community has to offer and plot a course that leads you to healthier choices and lots of great food in the coming year! Interact with Jill and follow her lifestyle posts on Instagram @festivelysouthern

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Casserole

This paleo breakfast casserole, with sausage, eggs and veggies, is packed with flavor, protein and fiber. If you like a spicy flavor, add in some red pepper flakes or use spicy sausage. The sausage and sweet potatoes can be prepped the day before so you can cut down day-of prep time to 10 minutes. This main course casserole will serve eight. 10 farm fresh eggs 1 pound fresh farmer’s market breakfast sausage 3 cups cubed sweet potatoes 2 cups torn baby spinach 1 1/2 cups bite-size broccoli florets 8 ounces fresh crumbled goat cheese 6 scallions, sliced 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 1 1/2 tablespoons salt Olive oil, as needed Preheat oven to 350°. Place cubed sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until slightly soft; approximately 20 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, crumble and brown the sausage. Add olive oil if necessary. Add vegetables, herbs, and salt and cook about two minutes, or until slightly softened and well combined. Pour the mixture into a 13- by 9-inch casserole dish. Blend in the crumbled goat cheese. Crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk well. Pour eggs over the sausage-vegetable mixture and bake 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The casserole may be served with fresh salsa. January ‘20



In The Kitchen With Bill Rodriguez Bill Rodriguez loves to cook big meals over a wood fire. From freshly caught saltwater fish to wild game, hunted only days before, he’s passionate about fresh and authentically prepared foods. By Lisa McGinnes Photography by Isabelle Ramirez



From left, Keith Kohl and Matthew Schott


ill Rodriguez cooks the way he was taught by his father, who was raised on a farm in Cuba. “He grew up ranching and hunting and basically doing the exact same thing we’re doing today,” Rodriguez explains. “My father taught me at a young age, I’d say from about 3 years old, myself and my siblings all hunted. We all grew gardens and he taught us how to process everything. It’s something we continued through our life and with our own kids.” The outdoor skills he learned as a child have served Rodriguez well—through his career as a federal ranger with the National Park Service, and now as Parks Division Head for the City of Ocala, where, among other duties, he oversees the annual A Fight For Freedom: Attack on Fort King reenactment. Over the four years the city has offered this event, his role has expanded, but his favorite place is still the camp kitchen. “This is quite a different kitchen than you’re used to seeing,” he says, standing under a canvas tent inside the fort. “This is our stove, this is our oven, this is everything,” he says of the enormous metal grate over the fire. With the exception of this year, which featured a cooking demonstration, Rodriguez has prepared a meal for the dozens of reenactors that brings a historically accurate culinary

experience to life for the participants. The meal typically features at least a quarter of venison or an entire hog. The long process begins the day before. “One of the things I like to do with the pork is the same thing I do at home,” he reveals. “I marinate it for 24 hours in what’s called mojo—a citrus, tropical wet marinade. It’s got a lot of lime and three different types of citrus. Citrus is excellent to break down the meat and the fibers in that protein. It helps infuse the flavor.” His special blend of spices includes a fragrant mix of freshly ground garlic, peppers, cilantro, cumin and bay leaves. When he cooks for a living history event, Rodriguez aims to keep the meal authentic. At the 2019 Attack on Fort King event in December, he prepared a quarter hog that came from a “wild boar that was up and walking two days before.” It was provided by a volunteer who hunted it at Wacahoota, on the Marion-Alachua county line. Rodriguez explains that pork would have been commonly served at the fort, because pigs grow and reproduce quickly and don’t require any special feed. The cooking fire was created with oak logs. “One hundred eighty-three years ago you wouldn’t have a great big elaborate meal, you’d have something simple,” he explains. “We don’t go looking for some extravagant spice or some extravagant wood; you’ve got to work with the resources you have. When the fort existed here there wasn’t a lumber mill so they had to supply their own wood. It would have been oak that they used.” Using period-authentic tools such as a blacksmithed turning fork, cooking a quarter hog is at least a four-hour process of continually checking the texture of the seared meat, rubbing it down with oil and re-seasoning and moving it often to keep the thicker portion directly over the fire while being careful not to burn the thinner end of the roast. “The biggest issue we have to deal with here is the heat because you can’t keep it consistent. The other element you’re fighting is the wind. I am looking to constantly keep the red-hot coals in the center and to keep wood that’s burning on the inside but still dry on the outside.” Cooking over an open fire may be a labor-intensive process, but Rodriguez says it’s always worth it. “I think the flavor is much better,” he asserts. “It’s drastically different. Believe me, by lunchtime it will be gone in 30 minutes.” To round out the simple meal, Rodriguez serves his flavorful entree with baked beans, rustic bread and black coffee. Although he’s careful to stay authentic when cooking at the fort, Rodriguez says it’s exactly the same way he prepares family dinners in his backyard. “Everything we have at the house for the most part matches what we have here. At Thanksgiving we cook a whole pig and we do the same at Christmas.” He enjoys cooking for his family, sometimes as many as 40 people for a holiday gathering. The best part? Passing on his family’s traditions to his 14-year-old son Gavin. “He’s all into it,” Rodriguez says of his youngest child, who also is his camping, hunting and fishing partner. “He loves to cook.” Rodriguez’s fiancée, Courtney McGuire, frequently joins him in the kitchen to help dice vegetables and grind seasonings. “We joke and have a good time as we’re prepping our food,” says Rodriguez. “Cooking is good quality time spent together.” January ‘20



Tony’s Sushi & Steakhouse 3405 SW College Road, Ocala

(352) 237-3151 › tonysushi.com Mon-Thu 11a-10p › Fri & Sat 11a-11p › Sun Noon-10p

Book your party at Tony’s today.

With abundant menu choices and over 100 off-menu rolls, you certainly won’t run out of options at Tony’s Sushi. If you can’t decide, the waitstaff is excellent at suggesting items you’re sure to enjoy. Every roll and sushi dish is made to order from the freshest ingredients. In the steakhouse area, highly trained chefs prepare a memorable meal as they cook on the tableside grills, preparing chicken, steak or seafood just the way you like it. Entrées include soup or salad and rice. Tony’s Sushi has a family-friendly, casual atmosphere, along with a full bar, including imported Japanese sake and beer selections.

Braised Onion 754 NE 25th Ave, Ocala

(352) 620-9255 › braisedonion.com Tue-Thu 11:30a-9p › Fri-Sat 11:30a-10p › Sun 11:30a-8p Braised Onion Restaurant, where you’ll experience “Comfort Food with Attitude” in a fun, warm and colorful but casual atmosphere, is open for lunch and dinner. Our team of experts will be dishing out perfectly seasoned prime rib with creamy horseradish sauce on Friday and Saturday evenings. And don’t


forget the dessert menu, which includes the prize-winning bread pudding and coconut cream pie.

El Toreo

3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala

(352) 694-1401 › 7 days 11a-10p SR 200, Ocala › (352) 291-2121 › 7 days 11a-11p New lunch specials include Taco Salad on Mondays, $5.45; Speedy Gonzalez on Tuesdays, $5.45; Quesadillas on Wednesdays, $7.95; Chimichangas on Thursdays, $6.95; and Burrito Supreme on Fridays, $5.95. New dinner options include Fajita Mondays, $10.95; Chimichanga Tuesdays, $8.95; Alambre Wednesdays, $9.95; and Tacos de Bistec Thursdays, $9.95. Plus $1.95 margaritas on Mondays. On Sunday, kids 12 and under can enjoy $1.95 children’s meals (take-out not included). Wednesday is Special Margarita Day, 99¢ all day. Saturday is 2-for-1 margaritas all day. Happy Hour daily, 3-7pm. Everything is 2-4-1 (exceptions may apply).



Wednesday: 99¢ House Margaritas All Day Thursday: Trivia Night, 7-9pm (Blvd. location) Thursday: Mariachi band at the 200 location, 6-9pm




Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar 10 S Magnolia Ave., Ocala


(352) 512-9458 › brickcitybbq.com Sun-Wed 11a-10p › Thurs 11a-11p › Fri-Sat 11a-12a


Located in downtown Ocala’s historic town square, Brick City Southern Kitchen’s aroma is recognized for several blocks around. Once inside, you are met with a wall of over 400 whiskeys from around the world and a collection of custom folk art from Nicklos Richards. To the rear of the restaurant is their scratch kitchen where all the sides, barbecue sauces, dressings and seasonings are prepared. But the heart of this kitchen is the custom-built smoker, where the low, slow heat of burning hickory smokes beef brisket, ribs, pork shoulders, whole chickens and turkey breast.

Milano Family Restaurant

5400 SW College Road Unit 106 Ocala, FL 34474 Suleiman Family Establishment NEW Italian Restaurant Ingredients Made Fresh Daily. Authentic Italian Family Recipes. Express Takeout, Delivery & Catering

(352) 304-8549 › milanofamilyrestaurant.com Open daily 11- 9 pm

NOW OPEN! Featuring authentic cuisine. Dishes enjoyed for generations in villages throughout Italy inspire our menu. We strive to use the finest ingredients to create dishes in line with our family tradition. All of our food, including our pizza dough, will be made fresh daily. We offer 7 distinct seating areas that will take you to different cities in Italy. Passion for good food and wine runs deep in our family, and we are thrilled to bring our authentic Italian recipes to the Ocala area!

Eaton’s Beach Sandbar & Grill 15790 SE 134th Avenue, Weirsdale Eaton’s Beach is of 2019 Best of the Best in 7 categories as well as the Winner of 2019, 2018, 2017 Taste of Ocala, Taste of the Class and Taste of Leesburg in a variety of categories

(352) 259-2444 › eatonsbeach.com Sunday – Thursday 11-9p › Friday and Saturday 11-10p Eaton’s Beach is all about casual dining, a beachside atmosphere and fresh, delicious food. Sure, we make tasty sandwiches and appetizers, but the main focus is on our amazing “Florisiana” inspired shrimp and seafood dishes, crab legs, choice cut ribeye, certified angus burgers, wings and other chef driven entrees. After spending a hot day on the beach or in the water at Lake Weir, guests can feel comfortable ordering delicious drinks and food @ our downstairs sandbar, or head upstairs to Eaton’s Beach for an evening of full-service dining with friends and family.

January ‘20



Memory Care at Paddock Ridge Ocala’s newest and most innovative memory care community blends the human touch with high-tech, therapeutic innovation. By Lisa McGinnes | Photography By John Jernigan


hen your loved one living with dementia needs long-term care, bring them home to Paddock Ridge, where memory care is a priority. Recently opened in summer 2019, this bright, colorful, spacious facility was thoughtfully designed and built with the amenities residents want and the safety features they need. Its four distinct neighborhoods, each with 18 private apartments nestled within its common areas, create a nurturing, familial setting. One of Paddock Ridge’s four neighborhoods was created especially for the needs of people living with dementia and is staffed with caregivers who receive ongoing training in memory care. Although the neighborhood and courtyard are secure, they have the same expansive feeling as the rest of the community. Residents can choose to stroll the outdoor areas, relax on the covered porch, and take part in group activities and games in their own bright, colorful common area.



Executive Director Shane Potter holds certification as a dementia trainer through the Department of Elder Affairs and trains staff to care for residents using the Positive Approach to Care model, a person-centered approach developed by dementia care leader Teepa Snow. “In everything we do, we use the positive approach to care in working with our residents,” Potter says. He leads the care team in providing outstanding service with the highest levels of dignity and respect, treating every resident like family. He explains that having just 18 residents per neighborhood provides the best environment for both residents and staff. “The caregivers are assigned to the same neighborhood every day, so they develop relationships,” he explains, adding that these familial relationships lead to greater trust, which is paramount to memory care. Potter explains that caregivers also leverage the

most advanced techniques for memory care. Residents are invited to visit the sensory room, created as a safe place where people living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can safely explore and stimulate their senses. This multisensory environment includes four stations for sensory stimulus—fiber-optic strands and liquid-filled bubble tubes that glow in a rainbow of colors to elicit feelings of comfort, a tactile marble board, soothing music and vibro-acoustic furniture—all part of the therapeutic experience. The room is designed to enhance feelings of comfort and well-being, relieve stress and pain, and maximize a person’s potential to focus, which can help improve communication and memory. “Most residents think it’s pretty peaceful,” Potter says. The sensory room at Paddock Ridge is the only one of its kind in Marion County. “It’s very soothing and relaxing. It helps calm them.”

For people living with dementia, life often feels out of their control. In contrast, the sensory room is one place where memory care residents can control their environment. For instance, an easy-to-hold cube allows them to choose the light color they like. In this multisensory environment, even residents who have lost some of their capacity for language can explore and enjoy visual, aural and tactile stimuli. One of the most therapeutic elements for many is the slow, rhythmic music. “The rhythm, the beats, the instrumentals—that’s what appeals to them,” Potter notes. “Even when they lose speech they retain rhythm. Deeper vibrations resonate in the chairs so the person can feel it at the same time.” Each experience is individualized and can sometimes help the caregiver gain the resident’s attention, the first step in their visual, verbal, touch method. “We establish a visual [connection], then a verbal one before we touch a resident, in order to build trust,” Potter explains. “The biggest thing in this environment is trust.” Paddock Ridge is blending the human touch with therapeutic innovation to make a remarkable difference for memory care residents and their families. When it’s time for your loved one to transition to memory care, call to schedule a private consultation and tour. Skilled and compassionate caregivers are ready to welcome your loved one home to Paddock Ridge. Paddock Ridge › 4001 SW 33rd Court, Ocala FL 34474 › (352) 512-9191 › www.paddockridge.com

From Spain to the U.S.

Opening January 25, 2020 This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico and is circulating through GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions. This exhibition is sponsored by Fine Arts For Ocala.

Museum, Artspace and Appleton Store Hours Tuesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday: noon–5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | AppletonMuseum.org | 352-291-4455

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The Original A renowned artist, known for her historical paintings and outdoor artworks, plies her trade among a lifetime’s accumulation of artistic inspiration and accomplishment. By Susan Smiley-Height Photography by Meagan Gumpert Hair by Carissa Pearson Makeup by Amber Odle at Face the Day Spa and Salon January ‘20




he gentle curvature of a smile, the sweeping branches of a moss-laden ancient oak, a reflective body of water and the regal outline of a historic venue are among the things that inspire artist Margaret “Peggy” Watts. And, over more than eight decades, Watts’ artful interpretations continue to inspire and delight others. Watts, 86, has built a career on portraits, landscapes and historic scenes. She remains active in a plein air group that paints at Silver Springs State Park as well as the Artist-Alley cooperative group, which will soon have a show at a gallery in Ormond Beach that will then move to the Brick City Center for the Arts in February and to the CenterState Bank Gallery in October. Watts’ Magical Lily Pad painting recently earned second place at the College of Central Florida’s (CF) Best of the Season show and was purchased by CF for its permanent collection. The largest of her works, measuring 11 1/2 feet wide by 17 feet high, was commissioned for placement in Queen of Peace Catholic Church in southwest Ocala and depicts the resurrection of Christ. She has more than 60 images on display at the church, including 6-by4 painted metal plates affixed to the roof trusses over the main altar, which she had to paint high up on a lift, tethered by a safety harness. Her pastel on paper, The Ocklawaha River from



Colby’s Landing, is featured in the book Florida’s American Heritage River Images from the St. Johns Region. Her painting of the Ocala fire station built in 1894 is featured on the cover of noted local historian David Cook’s most recent book, The Way It Was: A Trek Through Marion County’s Past. A still life painting of a table laden with a basket, apple, bowls and decanter, which commands center stage in her elegant living room, was executed under the tutelage of a mentor who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The work was insured by Lloyd’s of London and was displayed at the renowned Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art when it was located in Chicago.

The Early Years

Watts, who was born in New Jersey, moved with her family to Florida in 1953. “The year before, we came down to find a place to live where my brothers and myself could find work. We took a vacation and went straight to Miami and then worked our way back up,” she recalls. “We lived in a rural town in New Jersey, on the shore, so big city life was not going to please anyone. We liked Mount Dora, then turned north and stopped in old-timey Summerfield, on old Highway 301, and bought that little house on the corner, which later was bought by Summerfield Baptist Church.”


She got a job at the courthouse in Ocala and first commuted with other young people from Wildwood and Oxford who worked in Ocala, then with her brother, who got a job at a filling station in town. It was at the courthouse that she met her soon-to-be husband, Bernard Watts, to whom she was married for 53 years. Bernard Watts became a local legend himself, having worked his way up from copy boy to editor of the Ocala Star-Banner over a career that spanned more than 40 years. He passed away in 2013. The couple had two sons, 11 years apart. The elder, James, lives in Lakeland and John lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife Rebecca and son Ryan, 17. Watts says both of her sons went to school in Ocala and both became private pilots while they lived in the area. As for her own education, Watts says the nuns at her Catholic school quickly learned she had artistic talent. “From first grade, I was painting and drawing and coloring. They would pull me out of different classes and I was soon making posters and decorations for the annual school play,” she offers. “The chief money-raiser was the play and the director and the choreographer and the costumes came from a place in New York. I built a lot of stage things, such as a Chinese rickshaw, wishing wells and all kinds of things like that.” She explains that she gained skill at portraits and soon had a following among her brothers and their friends for her paintings of sports figures such as baseball legend Ted Williams. When she wanted to learn oil painting, she says, the teacher demanded that prospective students audition. “I had to sit at her dressing table and do a selfportrait using the mirror,” Watts recalls of the experience. “She took me on as a student and I stayed with her until we moved to Florida.” She still has that portrait, which depicts her in a white blouse with wavy strawberry blonde tresses falling to her shoulders (pictured on the top left in the portrait on the following page.) A later self-portrait, which she holds in the first page of this story, was painted in 1965 at the behest of Joyce Brand—a fine artist best known for her illustrated “Coppertone Girl” ad. That portrait shows Watts with pursed lips, a steely gaze and her tawny hair pulled back in a ponytail. Brand became an avid supporter of artists in Ocala after relocating here from New York. “When Joyce said to paint something,” Watts recalls, “you did it.”

A Lifetime of Works

Watts notes that after she had her son James, she would paint in a “little corner” of the kitchen in her home, which was initially built by Bernard for his parents. After the birth of John, her studio moved into the Florida room and then into a converted carport. That studio today—in fact, her entire home—has

Scenes from Watts’ historic Ocala landmarks series; from top First National Bank of Ocala, Hotel Marion and Ocala Union Station

January ‘20





walls filled with her works, which she describes as “realistic.” They range from religious images to a commissioned work of a woman with two wolves to a railroad crossing sign. She is very well known for her depictions of historic buildings in the area, including a great many churches, as well as venues that no longer exist, like the downtown hotel and courthouse, or have been repurposed into thriving sites, such as the Hotel Marion building. She says the “scariest” piece she ever did was based on seeing an alligator snatch an anhinga out of the water, the bird’s feathers splayed out of the toothy maw of the reptile, which gave her nightmares for years. “I finally painted it and the nightmares went away,” she remarks. Her favorite subjects are people, she offers, sweeping her arm around the studio. One entire wall is devoted to portraits of family members including her beloved Bernard, mother, father and grandmother, whom she greatly favors in looks, as well as several others. “I like people,” Watts affirms. “At the state park, I get to meet people from all over the world.” These days, she primarily paints portraits and landscapes. In looking at one partially completed work, based on The Yearling, and set for the show in Ormond Beach, she remarks that she is not pleased. “It’s like cooking,” she elaborates. “If you don’t like this vegetable, you know you don’t like this vegetable.” With that, she grabs a palette knife and swaths a smear of color across the bottom, using her right hand to “dance” the paint around.

Watts paints with brushes and the palette knife. She has favorite colors, such as a purple background layer for landscapes, and brands of paint. Her beloved local art supply store closed, so now she orders online. She says her mail delivery man will often ask, “What are you painting today, Margaret?”

Teacher, Mentor, Friend

Diane Jones Pribisco has known Watts for years. She says they met in the 1970s and have painted together and attended shows during all that time. “I was one of her students initially, then it became more of a student/mentor relationship...then friends,” Pribisco notes. “If I really needed help, she was there to help me. If not, she was there to encourage me all through my progress in art.” Pribisco lived in Jacksonville for 28 years but now lives in Salt Springs. She and Watts are also colleagues through Artist-Alley. Pribisco praised many of Watts’ works. “She is the most talented artist I’ve ever known,” Pribisco says. “She really inspired me to seek out the world of pastoral settings, to take notice of the beauty around us every day. Now that we’re in Salt Springs, I see something every day that she would want to paint.”

To learn more about Watts, find her on the artist-alley.com website or call (352) 629-4674.

January ‘20


Spanish Spice

The Art of Flamenco Appleton Museum of Art Curator of Exhibitions Patricia Tomlinson uses a fun “true or false” approach to examine the myths and realities of Flamenco dance and music from its early origins among Gypsy groups to modern day mega-festivals. The museum’s soon-to-open new exhibit will run through May 24th. Tomlinson, a former professional archaeologist, joined the Appleton in 2016 after serving as curatorial staff in the New World Department at the Denver Art Museum. By Patricia Tomlinson


assionate. Beautiful. Heart-wrenching. These are only a few descriptions of Flamenco art. Encompassing both dance and music, Flamenco has ancient roots with ties to traditions from Rome, the Iberian Peninsula and the Middle East. Sephardic Jewish musical traditions are also present, especially with the song or musical chant known as “Seguiriya.” Ethnomusicologists are currently studying this important link, as it is considered one of the most tragic and serious forms of Flamenco. One thing I always like to do, which drives my friends and family crazy, is to dispel commonly held assumptions about art. I’m about to do this regarding Flamenco, so join with me in a game of True or False. Flamenco is a happy dance used for celebration. False: While there are lighthearted forms of Flamenco referred to as “cante chico,” Flamenco is used to express a range of emotions, many of which are quite sad or serious. Flamenco dancers and musicians execute a “call and response” interaction when working together that often incorporates improvisation. True: The connection and trust between dancer and musician can lead to exciting improvisation in which they feed off one another. Female Flamenco dancers must always wear traditional ruffled dresses when performing. False: Legendary female Flamenco star Carmen Amaya wore pants when performing in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, women wear many different types of outfits when dancing. Flamenco was created to appeal to tourists. False: The earliest traceable origins of Flamenco are from the Romani people (historically referred to as Gypsies) who performed in tight-knit familial groups. As Flamenco grew in popularity, it was



eventually performed in bars and nightclubs, where it can still be enjoyed today. You can only see Flamenco in Spain. False: Flamenco is now performed worldwide and you are just as likely to see it in the United States, Turkey or Russia as you are in Spain. Flamenco has star performers who are extremely famous. True: In addition to legendary performers such as dancer Carmen Amaya or guitarist Carlos Montoya, today’s performers headline festivals that draw huge crowds. I hope this small lesson in Flamenco has been a fun preparation for our upcoming exhibition Flamenco: From Spain to the U.S. on view at the Appleton from January 25th to May 24th. Featuring approximately 140 objects, dating from the late 19th century to the present, this “special loan” exhibition includes beautiful outfits, memorabilia, and a replica of a tent traditionally used in annual Spanish fairs—complete with a horse and a costume try-on area for kids. An exhibition talk and Flamenco demonstration will be offered free for Appleton members or can be attended by nonmembers with the museum admission fee on January 25th at 11am. Exhibition curator Nicolasa Chávez will give a talk about the exhibit and there will be Flamenco demonstrations sponsored by The Wandering Soul. Appleton Director’s Circle and FAFO Collector’s Circle members may attend an invitation-only VIP reception celebrating the opening on January 24th. Contact Colleen Harper at (352) 291-4455, ext. 1831 to RSVP or with questions. Learn more at www.appletonmuseum.org Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala (352) 291-4455.

Mantón de Manila (Manila Shawl)

January ‘20 Man in traditional Feria de Abril (April Fair) attire

José Greco in his classic traje campero (field suit)


Art for Change The initial First Friday Art Walk of 2020 will host the Red Sand Project to represent victims of human trafficking who have fallen through the cracks. By Amy Davidson


anuary is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and an innovative art project is coming to Ocala to raise awareness about the issue. The Red Sand Project (RSP), first launched in 2014 by experiential artist Molly Gochman, is a striking visual representation of the contrast between the worst of humanity and the best. The project will debut locally on January 7th during the First Friday Art Walk. Selected participants will fill in cracks on the sidewalks around the downtown square with bright red sand to create a visual reminder of the millions of people around the world who have fallen through the cracks of society and become trapped and hidden in slavery. We possess a basic human need to connect through storytelling and the sometimes obvious and sometimes hidden messages within art of various mediums can empower healing, understanding, teaching and learning. The RSP makes that connection clear. The Rev. Mary Delancey is the local coordinator of the RSP. She has been involved in anti-slavery work locally, regionally and internationally for about seven years. She is a deacon at Grace Episcopal Church, the freedom partner coordinator for the International



Justice Mission Orlando volunteer team and a board member with Marion Cultural Alliance. “I realized that this was a way to bring the strength of the local art community to the work of ending human trafficking,” Delancey says of the inspiration to join the cause. “The Red Sand Project is a simple, but powerful way to draw the community’s attention to the global and very much local problem of human trafficking. Freedom and creativity recognize and lift up our shared humanity.” According to the Red Sand Project website, RSP “uses sidewalk interventions and earthwork installations to create opportunities for people to question, connect and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation.” Gochman, the artist originator of the project, says, “We can’t merely walk over the most marginalized people in our communities, those who fall through the [metaphoric] cracks. I’ve always thought that sidewalk cracks were beautiful; they hold a tension between nature and society.” This epidemic affects more than 20 million people worldwide. According to the Marion County Sheriff ’s

Office, the problem reaches locally, too. Although there are no exact figures for Marion County, the state of Florida has the third highest number of calls from all states to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Delancey notes that Marion County has had one conviction for human trafficking this year. The Marion County Human Trafficking Task Force will host Human Trafficking Awareness Month events throughout January. “We can end human trafficking, a form of modernday slavery, in our lifetime,” Delancey offers. “But to end it we must first acknowledge that it exists and understand how and why it happens.”

Local Activities: Human Trafficking Awareness Month Jan 7 | 5pm Human Trafficking Proclamation at Ocala City Hall 110 SE Watula Ave. (2nd floor Council Chambers) Jan 7 | 6pm Mayor’s Proclamation and Candlelight Vigil 110 SE Watula Ave. (on the steps of City Hall) Jan 11 #WearBlueDay to show solidarity with human trafficking survivors Jan 14 | 10am Human Trafficking Task Force Meeting Ocala Police Department, 402 S Pine Ave. RSVP to (352) 369-7139 Jan 20 | 1-3pm Deputy Zach Hughes of Marion County Sheriff ’s Office St. Leo University Education Center, 1930 SW 38th Ave. Jan 25 | 10am-3pm Freedom Walk at Sholom Park 7110 SW 80th Ave. Fundraiser for Created Gainesville’s planned shelter for human trafficking victims

Photos courtesy of Red Sand Project

Jan 28 | 11:30am Lunch & Learn with Donna Guinn, Chair of Marion County Human Trafficking Task Force Brick City Center for the Arts, 23 SW Broadway St. To report possible human trafficking, call (352) 369-7000 in Ocala or (352) 732-9111 in Marion County, or contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text 233733.

January ‘20



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January ‘20 103



Resolve to Start Small When it comes to making health changes, sometimes we feel it comes down to drastic all or nothing choices, but Dr. Todd W. Eichelberger of Ocala Health’s Family Care Specialists proposes that small measures can be more achievable and lead to healthier habits down the road. By Todd W. Eichelberger


s another year comes to a close, you may be thinking about the things you want to change in your life. Many people want to make changes that will improve their health and well-being. My fellow physicians and I spend a good part of our time with patients asking them to make changes that will benefit their health. Stop smoking, lose weight, get cardiovascular and resistance exercise, and cut down alcohol intake to moderate levels are pieces of advice given daily by virtually every physician. For example, one serving of alcohol (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or one-and-a-half ounces of hard liquor) for females and two servings of alcohol for males is the daily recommended limit for “moderate” consumption considered safe for your body and brain. Some of our patients may struggle with our advice and reactions range from skeptical about the actual benefit of any of those changes for that individual to believing that the task is too difficult to even start. Believing it’s too hard to make changes is what I’d like to address. These changes take time and some effort to take effect and to be meaningful. I confess that I myself have struggled with maintaining a comfortable weight and to get regular exercise off and on throughout my life. I’ve been more consistent with it in the past and have started to be consistent again only recently. What I would like to say to everyone reading is simple: Some change in the right direction is better than no change at all! If you want to quit smoking, but don’t have the drive to quit completely yet, smoking just five cigarettes a day is obviously better for your body than an entire pack. And when you’re down to just a few cigarettes a day, the nicotine has less of an influence on your brain. Quitting can then be easier than it was before. If you’re one of many people who think, “I need to lose like 100 pounds to be at a ‘healthy’ weight,” then set more manageable goals. The goal is health, not necessarily a specific weight. There is good evidence that improvement of diabetes, cholesterol levels and high blood pressure can be accomplished with a 5-10 percent reduction in body weight. That’s only 10-20 pounds for a 200-pound individual. Consider small changes for exercise too. If you are overwhelmed by the idea of committing 30 minutes, five

times a week to exercise, then start out for 10 minutes once a week and increase as you can tolerate. The small steps can include parking at the far end of a parking lot and walking into a store or your work; taking stairs when you have the option; and getting up and marching in place during commercial breaks when you watch TV. If you think the only way you’re going to lose weight is by eating bland food and that you have to be overly restrictive with the kinds of foods you eat, think again. You don’t have to cut out carbohydrates to be a better version of yourself, even if you’re diabetic. Find diet changes that make sense to you and are sustainable over time so that you don’t fall into yo-yo dieting. You might track your current intake to identify problems through a food log app like MyFitnessPal or Lose It! If you’re always skipping breakfast or eating too infrequently during the day, it may seem like you’re reducing calories, but either of these problems can actually make losing weight more difficult. With food log apps, you can also set a goal weight and suggested calorie amounts will be provided for you to reach that goal. If you consume too much alcohol, cutting back is much better than doing nothing, even if you’re still above the recommended moderate intake levels. Alternate alcohol with water when you do drink, and that small change will help your health as well. Many goals you may have for yourself and recommendations made by your physician can seem too lofty to attain. Setting shorter-term or more reasonable goals for yourself might be more effective for making the desired changes. The point of my message today is simple. Don’t psych yourself out. Scale down your expectations and just get started! Right now is a great time to work on small, achievable modifications to behaviors and any of the larger issues you want to address, rather than attempting to make radical changes that will potentially overwhelm you before you even get started.

Dr. Eichelberger is a board-certified family medicine physician with Family Care Specialists, part of Ocala Health’s outpatient program. Learn more at www.ocalahealthfcs.com

January ‘20 105


January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, which was started to educate patients and the community at large about what glaucoma is and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of this sight-stealing disease. By Danielle Lieneman



laucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. It frequently causes all or partial vision loss and is most often caused by pressure inside of the eye. Michael Morris, M.D., F.A.C.S., an ophthalmologist with OcalaEye, likens the disorder to a clogged sink. “There’s a faucet that makes the fluid, and a drain that drains the fluid. The pressure goes up because the fluid can’t get out.” According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over 3 million Americans are currently diagnosed with glaucoma. That number is only expected to grow as the population continues to age. Those most at risk for glaucoma are the elderly, with African American and Latino patients disproportionately affected. One of the biggest risks of glaucoma is that there are frequently no symptoms until some, or all, vision has already been lost, although symptoms such as severe pain in the eye and blurry vision do sometimes appear. According to most eye care experts, the best thing an individual can do to prevent glaucoma—and any loss of vision—is to get routine eye exams. While it is not possible to regain any vision that has been lost already, there are options available to prevent further loss of vision. In most cases, ophthalmologists can decrease the eye pressure and help prevent future degradation of the optic nerve through several methods including prescription eyedrops, medication, laser procedures and eye surgery. As with any disease, it is important to keep follow-up appointments and heed medical advice. With frequent screening, it is possible to catch glaucoma when a patient is getting worse. When this happens, treatment usually becomes more aggressive. Mohammed K. ElMallah, M.D., also a practicing ophthalmologist with OcalaEye, sees the most trouble with patients who are diagnosed with glaucoma and then don’t return, often with little or no vision remaining. “Don’t ignore it,” Dr. ElMallah says. “It [glaucoma] is something that is treatable, not curable. You can control the outcome.” Start 2020 off right and make a resolution to keep your eyes, and those of your elderly relatives, healthy. For more information about glaucoma and Glaucoma Awareness Month, please visit www.glaucoma.org.

Picture of Health With new physicians and expanded subspecialties, Radiology Associates of Ocala (RAO) expands the depth and breadth of its radiology services. By Lisa McGinnes


adiology services are often a mystery to patients. Various tests, some with scary-sounding names, including MRI and CT scans, are part of a radiologist’s daily life. Reading and interpreting these different tests gives patients a better picture of their health, and having expert advice helps patients deal with any potential problems. RAO now has 23 physicians with the addition of five new radiologists who bring expanded specialties within the radiology field—nuclear medicine, neuroradiology and body imaging. Two of the new physicians specialize in diagnostic radiology, which is the use of imaging scans to diagnose a patient’s condition—from simple X-rays to ultrasound, CT scan, MRI and nuclear medicine. Dr. Alexander Quiroz-Casian subspecializes in body imaging, or the use of cross-sectional imaging techniques. Dr. Luis Jiminez, who received his medical degree at

the University of Florida, subspecializes in nuclear medicine, which uses very small amounts of radioactive materials to examine organ function and diagnose conditions including thyroid disease and cancer. Three new physicians specialize in neuroradiology, which focuses on imaging tests involving delicate areas including the spine, head and neck. Dr. Vivek Kalra, Dr. Cameron Cummings and Dr. Carmen Villanueva assist patients who may be evaluated for conditions including stroke, tumors or dementia and many other disorders related to the brain, spine, head and neck. RAO has been helping patients in Marion County for more than 40 years.

For more information on Radiology Associates of Ocala, visit www.raocala.com or call (352) 671-4300.

January ‘20 107

Your Body’s Engine in Crisis A small butterfly-shaped gland located on the lower part of the neck —miniscule in size —plays a huge role in regulating the proper function of the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. By Danielle Lieneman


n estimated 30 million Americans suffer from a thyroid disorder, and many more go undiagnosed each year, according to the American College of Endocrinology. Thyroid disease is more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes or breast cancer. Remarkably, more Americans suffer from thyroid disease than all types of cancers combined. While the exact causes of thyroid problems are largely unknown, thyroid disease does tend to run in families. However, thyroid disorders commonly occur in individuals with no family history. The American Thyroid Association (ATA) reports that more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during his or her lifetime. Because the thyroid plays such a crucial role to the body and overall health, it’s imperative that thyroid health be taken seriously. January is national Thyroid Awareness Month. The campaign was started to bring attention to the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease and is part of a year-long awareness program designed to encourage the public to be proactive in having their thyroid function checked. A part of the endocrine system, the thyroid is a small gland located in the neck. This small gland, often referred to as the body’s engine, is responsible for producing and regulating the body’s hormones. It directly impacts the health and well-being of many of the body’s functions, including, but not limited to, the cardiac system, the digestive system, muscle control, brain development and even one’s mood. When the thyroid is incapable of properly regulating itself, one of two things will occur: it either makes an excess of hormones, called hyperthyroidism, or it doesn’t make enough hormones, called hypothyroidism. The symptoms of hypothyroidism (meaning your engine is running too slow) include fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, muscle pain and menstrual abnormalities. On the other



hand, anxiety, emotional instability, general weakness, tremors, palpitations, heat intolerance, increased perspiration and weight loss despite a normal or increased appetite indicate hyperthyroidism, which means your engine is running too fast. As thyroid disorders can develop at any time in life, individuals should be aware of and monitor for symptoms periodically. Dr. Grodonoff Nelson, a board-certified family medicine physician with Ocala Health Family Care Specialists, recommends that individuals who suspect they might have a thyroid disorder also do an inspection of their neck. “Check the lower aspect of the neck for any abnormal enlargement or lumps that can be felt,” Dr. Nelson advises. According to the ATA, women are five to eight times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder, especially during and after pregnancy. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be caused by a variety of things, including but not limited to autoimmune disorders, cancer, inflammation or genetics. It’s important to have regular meetings with both primary care physicians and endocrinologists to keep symptoms in check and ensure healthy thyroid function going forward. “Most of these individuals [diagnosed with a thyroid disorder] can go on leading normal lives,” says Dr. Nelson. “Preventative medicine can help, as patients should have a close relationship with their doctor and keep up with their yearly physicals.” While approximately one in five U.S. residents has thyroid disease, many are unaware that their thyroid is not functioning properly. Visit www.thyroid.com, to learn more and access their library of downloadable brochures.

By The Numbers

Women are 5 times more likely to develop a thyroid problem.

12% of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition.

The Thyroid Controls

Body Temperature

Cardiac System

Thyroid problems tend to run in families, but many patients have no family history of the disease.

Digestive Health

Brain Development

1-in-5 U.S. residents live with a thyroid disease, but many are unaware.

January ‘20 109



January ‘20



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