Monday, June 8, 2015

Our 20th Anniversary Fruitcation

My husband and I decided to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary with a fruit trip to Homestead. Our adventures began on Tuesday with a stop by Going Bananas as soon as we drove into Homestead.

We had talked with Don at the Manatee Rare Fruit Council tree sale last month and brought him down a hua moa that Chris Knight (another amazingly nice banana guy) had given us to share with Don. Don and Katie were so kind to spend a couple of hours showing us around their beautiful property and talking to us about their adventures. I loved the way they had their place set up - a tasting table so we could taste a few banana varieties we hadn’t tried yet, but are growing (Saba and Goldfinger). We then saw the tissued cultured plants for sale, and then rows and rows of bananas and some other wonderful fruit trees. We were especially impressed by the way Don had his Lychee trees pruned. They looked beautiful, yet the bottom was much more open than most other mature lychee trees I have seen. It was a great way to begin our fruitcation. 

We then headed over to Robert is Here - purchased a couple of smoothies (jackfruit and mamey) and I was able to taste mangosteen for the first time. As we walked around, I felt like I was sitting on a goldmine back at home after seeing the prices of passion fruit and sea sponges. We tasted all of the honey they had available and agreed that our backyard honey was still our favorite. However, we picked up a jar of palmetto honey and mangrove honey as a thank you gift for my parents who stayed at our home to care for our children and fruit trees while we were gone. We walked around looking for invasive lizards - spotted a couple - and continued to stroll around the property there for a while. I ended up throwing away my smoothie - it was too rich tasting - again, made me appreciate our homemade smoothies. As far as fruit for sale, they had a lot of jackfruit, mangos, mangosteen, passion fruit, and some guanabanas. 

I liked the way they were marketing their dragon fruit. 

The next morning, we started off at Fruit and Spice park as soon as they opened.

There was an Inga out front with fruit - not Inga edulis, but still nice to see. We came prepared with knives, but wish we had brought cutting boards as well. We stopped by the lychee trees in the middle of the park first. There were many ripe lychees on the ground to enjoy (we were the only ones at the park for the first 2 hours). 


Walking along the path, we came across a full grown iguana. We offered him some cecropia fruit, but like ourselves, he wasn’t interested.

We then headed over to the mangos where we sampled a few before coming to the Lemon Merange mangos. Things got serious and we sat down and stuffed ourselves with PPK (Lemon Meringue) and several other varieties. There were some Kuini mangos, but they were not ripe yet. We were amazed that no one else was at the park on such a perfect day.

  We definitely ate our money’s worth in the first couple of hours. We then were able to sample some ripe cinnamon apple, hog plums, small garcinias, Mammea americana, Meiogyne cylindrocarpa, and some other fruits. By this time, it was 11am and one other family had entered the park. We decided to take the tour which was entertaining. We would have liked the map to have more trees labeled as well as individual trees labeled better, but found the park very enjoyable none the less.

Cinnamon Apple


 As we were leaving, I told our tour guide how much I enjoyed the chock anon mango and she sifted through the mangos she had picked that morning and handed us another one to enjoy. We felt this was a great time of year to go with both lychees and mangos being ripe. We stopped by the Mango Cafe, on site, for lunch where we enjoyed a Cuban and lobster roll. 

We then headed up to Fairchild Botanical Gardens. The highlights were seeing all of the colorful lizards, the butterfly garden, the shaded canopy areas with streams, and the Whitman’s fruit pavilion. The fruit pavilion was much smaller than we expected (maybe because it was so full of fruiting trees), but we enjoyed seeing the durian tree, the mangosteen covered in blooms, and the chupa chupa tree - one of my favorite fruits (Which we were told has yet to fruit). It would have been great to see more fruit trees at the park, but we had a very nice time. As we walked out, we saw a beautiful ae ae banana - the third place we saw these beautiful bananas flourishing on this trip. 

We headed back to Robert is Here that night to pick up a jackfruit so we could enjoy the smell for the rest of our trip. 

Thursday, we started our day by visiting the fruit stands along Krome Ave (all of them). Our two favorites were Margarita’s (where we picked up some dragon fruit cuttings and had a nice conversation with the lady working there) and Brothers (just next door) where the young girl behind the counter helped us pick out the perfectly ripe guanabana and caimitos for breakfast. We sat down outside and enjoyed our fruit despite being surrounded by flies. Thankfully, they had a nice sink out back for us to wash off our guanabana covered hands. We stopped by a few fruit nurseries in the area (we picked up another Jackfruit, but the nurseries did not have anything we were looking for). 


That afternoon, Noris Ledesma gave us a tour of Fairchild farm and the beautifully restored house there, her property, as well as a few other very interesting places. This was the highlight of our trip. Noris is always sharing wonderfully fascinating stories and we were able to taste a Wani mango. We sat down with friends of hers that offered us many mango varieties to try - and they sent us home with mangos as well as Homestead Honey lychees (Craig's new favorite lychees). It was my first time trying Okrung - which ended up being my favorite mango that we tried that day. We learned so much and were so thankful that the last full day of our trip was filled with amazing fellowship and delicious fruit and ended with dinner at one of Noris's favorite Columbian restaurants in Miami. Such an amazing day!

Mangifera caesia 

Friday morning, we had a tour of GRIN in Miami where we picked up some more banana plants, mango cuttings, and plumeria. Again, we learned a lot and were so grateful for the opportunity to hear about the history of fruit collecting and all of the science taking place in the fruit world - really amazing stuff going on - mind blowing! 

We headed home - smiles on our faces, van loaded with fruit and plants, and the smell of jackfruit filling the air. 

This was definitely the best way to celebrate our anniversary! Hopefully we can go to Hawaii or somewhere else to celebrate a future anniversary with a fruitcation.



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