Grassroots Goddess in Eco Crusade Article in Orlando Magazine


Grassroots  Goddess

Earth mother Julie Norris plants the seeds for responsible living in Orlando.

Julie Norris hadn’t heard of “organic” when, as a college student, she bit into one of the most delicious pieces of fruit she had ever tasted.

“I grew up eating TV dinners and Little Debbies,” she says. “I couldn’t understand why this [banana] tasted so good.”

Norris, 30, began educating herself about organic farming and its advantages over conventional farming, and that inquiry led her to the environmental movement. With a business degree from the University of Central Florida and an advanced case of environmental zeal, Norris opened the Dandelion Communitea Café in 2006, serving vegetarian meals under a nearly carbon-neutral, waste-free roof. The success of the literally green (chartreuse, more specifically) restaurant on Thornton Avenue helped sprout an entire row of eco-friendly businesses, including a garden co-op, green day spa and yoga center. Norris is a den mother to budding environmentalists, and her café serves as a watering hole for grassroots organizations dedicated to making Orlando greener.

Norris’ thinking has evolved over the years. These days, she and her peers are trying to persuade Orlandoans to learn to live sustainably by, among other things, consuming locally grown produce. She likes to remind us that there were times when we were less wasteful. It was patriotic to not let anything go to waste during the Great Depression, and people grew Victory Gardens during World War II.

The best place to save the world,” she says, “is in your own backyard.” —Shelley Preston

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