Sustainability In South Florida

Highlights of the lower Sunshine State in a Chevy Bolt EV

The 2020 Chevy Bolt EV is the perfect vehicle to explore the great state of Florida while keeping sustainability at the forefront of your travels. (Photos by Mark Elias for Chevrolet)

At a time when the world is trending towards renewable energy and sustainability, individuals are making positive changes in their daily lives—from what car they drive to where they source their food and even where they go on vacation. Southern Florida has a great deal to offer by way of sustainability and even more in the way of fun.

Electric vehicles, simply put, are the future. The industry has experienced immense growth over the past few years, which will only continue in this new decade. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is the brand’s first all-electric vehicle and the 2020 offers fresh features that rival others on the market. With an impressive EPA-estimated 259-mile range on one battery charge, the Bolt EV is an excellent choice for road-tripping.

View of Gordon River from Hyatt House Naples (Photo source: hyatt.com)

Naples

Start your journey in Naples, which is known for its high-end shopping, sophisticated dining options and white sand beaches. The Hyatt House Naples overlooks the Gordon River and is just a short jaunt away from the shops and restaurants of downtown Naples. Its spacious rooms and resort-like amenities provide an optimal getaway for travelers.

Range anxiety, or the fear of your car’s battery running out of juice before you reach your destination or a charging point, is a concern, especially for drivers new to electric vehicles. Luckily, Chevy has an app for that. The myChevrolet mobile app, which seamlessly connects your phone to the car’s infotainment screen, has all of the features you’d expect—ability to start and turn off the car remotely, lock and unlock doors, see diagnostic info on the car and access roadside assistance—plus Energy Assist, which helps plan your route most efficiently according to where charging stations are located. Naples has several around town for your convenience.

Get a great look at the beautiful Naples scenery on a drive in a Chevy Bolt. (Photo by Mark Elias for Chevrolet)

While in Naples, don’t miss out on the Naples Botanical Garden, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary or the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. When you head to the beach, the large cargo storage in the back of the Bolt can hold all of your gear and then some. Catch some rays at Naples Beach, Lowdermilk Park or Clam Pass Park and feel free to wade, fish and kayak in the crystal clear waters.

Nearby, you’ll find Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. What better way to see this expansive wetland than in an electric vehicle that produces zero direct emissions? Preserving the Everglades and protecting it from air pollution pays this national treasure the respect it deserves. You’ll also be grateful the Bolt EV has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot when you’re out exploring wilds of Southern Florida.

Babcock Ranch is the first greenfield master planned smart town in the U.S. and offers community to residents and visitors alike. (Photo by Mark Elias for Chevrolet)

Babcock Ranch

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to run a whole city on solar power alone, the answer is yes. Located 40 minutes northeast of Fort Myers, Babcock Ranch is the first solar-powered town in the country. It has been built from the ground up with sustainability in mind every step of the way. At approximately 17,000 acres, the property is larger than Manhattan Island. About 80 percent of the land will remain undeveloped, preserved as open space, nature reserves or for agricultural use. Babcock Ranch has partnered with Florida Power & Light to implement 440 acres of solar panels just north of the main town.

The developed portion features a series of unique neighborhoods full of beautiful homes that meet or exceed Florida Green Building standards. Every home comes equipped with a charger suitable for an electric vehicle and residents are flocking there finding a community that shares their lifestyle.

For a visitor to Babcock Ranch, besides popping into the model homes on display, recreation opportunities abound. First stop at Curry Creek Outfitters and rent yourself a canoe or kayak to take out onto the lake or a bicycle to explore the town or bike-friendly trails. The extensive network of walking, biking and hiking trails expand every day and will ultimately extend more than 50 miles once completed. Another way to see Lake Babcock is to take an electric boat tour offered twice every afternoon or to get out there with a fishing rod and some bait.

Founder’s Square, the downtown area of Babcock Ranch hosts musical acts in the band shell and frequent festivals, such as the upcoming Fitness Festival, pet-friendly Bark in the Park and the Babcock Ranch Art Show. Also, get your juice on at Recharge Juice Co. and sample the ice cream and sorbet flavors at Square Scoops Coffee & Creamery.

Farm-to-table dining at Table & Tap is essential for visitors to experience. A variety of microgreens, herbs, spices and vegetables are grown at the ranch and incorporated into dishes, as well as flavored honeys harvested on site. The menu has dishes to please herbivores, carnivores and everyone in between with fresh, unique takes on classics made with fine, local ingredients.

Electric vehicle charges can be found throughout Babcock Ranch. (Photo by Kimberly Dijkstra)

The parking lots downtown have multiple EV chargers for use by patrons. Like other Chevy vehicles, the Bolt EV has safety at the forefront with high-definition surround view cameras, plus it’s so quiet they implemented the new AVAS pedestrian alert system which chirps at pedestrians who may not have heard it coming.

Nearby Fort Myers has an artsy historic downtown full of galleries, quirky shops and eateries. Catch a show at the Arcade Theater, an old Vaudeville venue that now showcases productions by the Florida Repertory Theater, then treat yourself to a dainty delight at Le Macarons French Pastries. Just down the road is the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, a historic home purchased by Thomas Edison in 1885, later adjacent to Henry Ford’s winter retreat and now open to the public as a museum and botanic garden.

Malibu Farm’s Chef Alex Kuzin (Photo by Mark Elias for Chevrolet)

Miami

The vibrant city of Miami is a two-hour drive away, through the vast expanse of the Everglades down a highway called Alligator Alley (Interstate 75). Don’t count on seeing alligators cross this wide toll road—for that try the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) and dip down one of the side roads and take a wildlife tour. Airboat tours are an option, but for an environmentally friendly excursion, take the Shark Valley Tram Tour and observe one of the most incredible ecosystems in the world up close.

Speaking from experience, the Chevy Bolt EV is an ideal car to cross the state of Florida in, due in part to its smart energy-saving features. Regen-on-Demand is triggered by a paddle on the steering wheel, which enables you to slow down without using the brake pedal, thereby converting energy into electricity that is transferred back to the battery. Similarly, using the one-pedal driving mode, slowing down and coming to a complete stop is as simple as lifting your foot off the accelerator. It sounds peculiar at best and scary at worst, but it’s actually completely intuitive and you naturally get used to it after a few minutes. This method also transfers energy back into the battery that is ordinarily lost when you brake.

At Malibu Farm’s pizza-making classes, students make dough from scratch, select toppings, and watch their creations go into the wood-fired oven. (Photo by Kimberly Dijkstra)

As you near Miami, you’ll see the hard-to-miss guitar-shaped silhouette of the Hard Rock Café grow on the horizon and soon the turquoise Atlantic Ocean will come into view. The open-air restaurant Malibu Farm Miami Beach sits right on the water offering stunning views to accompany your meal. Offering the fresh, farm-to-table flavors of Southern California, the restaurant has an international reputation for sourcing local, organic ingredients and being as sustainable as possible. Located inside Nobu Hotel, founder chef Helene Henderson has perfected a vibe of laid-back luxury.

Malibu Farm offers pizza-making classes for adults on Thursday and children on Saturdays, and private classes can be booked on weekdays. Chef de Cuisine Alex Kuzin hosted a recent class for members of the media and gave students a hand-on pizza-making experience. He explained the surprisingly long history of pizza, which dates back to ancient Mesopotamia before being perfected in Napoli, or Naples, Italy, then shared the ingredients of Malibu Farm pizza dough—kosher salt, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, agave syrup, water, high-gluten 00 and the secret ingredient: multi-grain flour made from sesame, sunflower and flax seeds which add texture and a depth of flavor.

Pizza tastes even better when you’ve made it with your own hands. (Photo by Kimberly Dijkstra)

Aspiring home pizza-makers will get a lot out of the class, besides getting their hands dirty and a tasty meal. Each step of the way, Kuzin explains the whys and hows behind each choice, such as why the wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients and how to eliminate air pockets from your dough, so students understand how to replicate the process at home. The final result is a beautiful wood-fired pizza topped with flavorful sauce, shredded mozzarella and sliced veggies cooked to perfection.

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Kimberly Dijkstra
Kimberly Dijkstra is the web editor for Anton Media Group, a writer for Long Island Weekly and recipient of several Press Club of Long Island (PCLI) and New York Press Association (NYPA) awards.

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