Gardens of Earthly Delight: Fruit & Spice Park
By Pamela Robin Brandt
Munch your way through a 32-acre tropical paradise at the
Fruit and Spice Park, a unique almost-all-edible botanical
garden located 35 miles south of Miami in the rural Redlands
agricultural district of Homestead, Florida.
Established in 1944, the park features over 500 varieties
of exotic edibles -- fruits, herbs, spices, and nuts -- from
tropical and sub-tropical regions all over the world.
Many are familiar; there are 80 varieties of banana, for
example, and 40 of grape. But many fruits are almost unknown,
like candlestick fruit, a fantastic crunchy substitute for
bamboo shoots in stir-fries, and canistel ('egg fruit'), which
tastes like sweet potato custard and makes a lovely presentation
for dessert when served in a soft-boiled egg cup.
With advance notice, visitors can arrange with the management
to obtain a collection of seeds and cuttings suitable for
Devastating damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 proved a
blessing in disguise to the Fruit and Spice Park, thanks to
an ambitious redevelopment plan supplemented by South Florida's
The ongoing project calls for ethnic/geographically arranged
collections (Tropical America, Tropical Asia, Tropical Africa,
Australia, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean) as well as
theme areas, including citrus and custard apple collections,
a fibre/dyes section, and a poisonous plant area (enabling
edible plant enthusiasts to determine the difference between
edibles and their often appealing-looking but toxic cousins).
A refreshing change from typical 'look-but-don't-touch' gardens,
the Fruit and Spice Park not only allows but encourages visitors
to sample fallen produce -- except in the poisonous plant
Best time to visit is November through May, before South
Florida's summer hurricane threats and sweltering heat make
the prospect of picnicking under the palms a bit sticky.
The Fruit and Spice Park
24801 S.W. 187th Avenue
Homestead, FL, 33031
Open all year, every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas,
and New Year's Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
By car (the only reasonable way to go) from Miami, take highway
U.S. 1 South to 248th Street (Coconut Palm Drive), in the
town of Homestead. Turn right, heading west. Continue driving
west on 248th Street to 187th Avenue (Redlands Road). Turn
left. The Fruit and Spice Park is immediately on your left.
Informal parking -- on the grass strip on the left side of
the road outside the park's fence -- is free.
1 305 247 5727 - phone
1 305 245 3369 - fax
For Flights and Airfares to the U.S - click
here for the Travel Homepage.
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