Friday, December 08, 2006

Fruit and Spice Park

Carambola (aka Star Fruit)

This week, I had the opportunity to visit a really fascinating place - the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, FL. This 35 acre botanical garden has over 500 varieties of exotic fruits, herbs, spices and nuts from around the world. The park was mostly flattened by Hurricane Andrew, and they are still rebuilding. But there's plenty to see. Tours by tractor-driven tram are offered three times a day, and I highly recommended timing your visit to start with one. The biggest problem with the park is that the signage is nearly non-existent, so a tour is almost a necessity to know what you're looking at. And what you're tasting - visitors are invited to eat any fruit that's on the ground. Picking off of trees is forbidden to all except the tour guides, who will provide you with plenty of tasty snacks as they take you around the park.

The park is open year round, and because of Florida's climate and the diversity of plant species, there's always something new coming into season. Most of the fruits that are ripe that day are available for tasting at the gift shop/park entrance building. Fruit can't be taken out of the park, and none are available for sale. But fortunately, there's an excellent fruit stand just a few miles away called Robert is Here that carries many exotics. (Stay tuned for more about Robert is Here in a near future post.) Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the tour - check out my web album to see the rest and take a virtual tour with descriptions.

The stunningly beautiful flowers of the Guiana Chestnut.

Yellow coconut palm

Balsam Pear - considered a weed, but the prettiest I've ever seen!

Eating Rollinia (aka "snot fruit") fresh from the tree. Yum!

If you're a foodie in Florida, I highly recommend making a stop here. It's just 35 miles south of Miami, and right on the way to the Florida Keys.

Fruit & Spice Park
24801 S.W. 187th Avenue
Homestead, Florida 33031

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