At long last, I got the chance to visit The Fruit and Spice Park down near Homestead, Florida.
I can’t tell you how many people said “you NEED to go there!”
It’s just a long way from my home up in North Florida. However, since I was already down in Ft. Lauderdale, I figured this was the chance. I packed up the family and we drove the additional 1.5 hours south to go check it out.
It was worth every minute to get there. So today, I’m writing a post called, creatively:
Visiting The Fruit and Spice Park
The first thing you’ll notice when you get to the Fruit and Spice Park is their nice little parking lot and visitor’s center/gift shop. They have a collection of botanical prints for sale, along with playing cards, insects encased in candy and other silly bits and pieces… but the coolest thing about the visitor’s center entrance is the tray of fresh fruit and toothpicks by the front desk. Those are there for you to sample before you even see the trees. I got to try jackfruit for the first time.
Wow. I can’t even describe the flavor. It’s… amazing.
I’m totally growing jackfruit when I get a more tropical location. After all, they’re a lot like giant mulberries and I’m great at growing those – check ’em out:
After you pay (it’s quite affordable), you get a map and step through the doors into paradise.
There are some chocolate pudding fruit trees right near the front. A little further is a beautiful arbor covered with black pepper vines by a waterfall and some great big starfruit trees.
Something else I need to tell you: all the fruit that falls to the ground is yours for the tasting! It’s their policy. My children got to eat all kinds of wonderful fruit they’d never tried before.
We also got to eat some of my all-time favorites – like the Jamaican cherry:
That tastes like a combination of caramel, popcorn and cotton candy. Totally addicting.
Another fascinating plant I saw for the first time was the monkey pot tree:
Those little “monkey pots” open up to reveal edible nuts inside. They’re like mini Brazil nuts. How cool is that?
And speaking of cool, check out the bloom on this cannonball tree:
The blooms hung in strings down the sides of the tree. It looked unbelievable. I’ve read about the cannonball tree but this was the first specimen I’d seen in person.
At the fruit and spice park there are hundreds and hundreds of plants. They have an insane collection of mango varieties (186), plus various types of coconuts, lots of tamarind trees, loofah gourds, cocoa, and almost every kind of tropical fruit you can imagine – including some you can’t.
The tour is also worth taking. Our guide, Kent, was funny and knowledgeable and shared a lot of great information and quirky facts about some of the trees and spices in the park.
Another cool thing: after the tour, I was trying to decide where to go next… when a buff-looking guy walks up to me and says “Florida Survival Gardening? David?”
Turns out he’s a regular reader who owns all my books. He was there with a pretty lady friend and we all ended up talking for quite a bit.
Mike – it was great meeting you. Thanks for stopping to say hi. Drop me an e-mail at some point.
I also found out that Mike doesn’t normally have rosy red cheeks. I think his gal hit him up with some Bixa warpaint at some point during their visit.
Thanks to this site, I’ve made friends all over the place. It’s cool getting recognized in public. (I once ended up answering gardening questions at an organic market after getting recognized while standing in line – that was funny). Gardeners and plant people are some of the most wonderful folks on the face of the earth.
I highly recommend visiting The Fruit and Spice Park if you get a chance. I got a chance to record a chunk of out trip on video – check it out:
Great trip. A must-see, folks. Hit it when you get a chance!
Sounds better than Disney.
Yep. And no tea cup ride to make you vomit up all the fruit.
We harvested our jackfruit tree a few months ago from the old homestead and had a blast eating it! That tree you may have seen by the outdoor sink outside the laundry room. We are now growing another one on our new homestead.
I grew up near the Fruit and Spice Park. Redland treasure. I don’t know if they and the homeowners in the area used to have elaborate Christmas lawn displays. If my memory serves correctly the F&SP had a wonderful Santa’s workshop with moving items. I believe the community might even have had a competition. Anyway visiting the community was one of our Christmas Eve treats every year.
That sounds great. I remember visiting something similar as a child. It was magical.