Fruit & Spice Park
Short drive of a couple of hours up the northern half of the Keys and on to the mainland at Homestead, FL. Got situated and connected and then looked for something to do for the afternoon. Came across a reference to the Fruit & Spice Park. Part of the Miami/Dade County park system the park is a unique 35 acre display of tropical and subtropical plants from around the world. Visitors are invited to taste their way through ripe displays. The office/store/visitor center has samples of 10-12 different exotic fruits cut up for sampling. There are hundreds of different fruits. Visitors are welcome to wander the park looking at all the different trees and plants and to sample any fruit that is on the ground. Couple of rules: fruit can not be picked from frees and you must know what you are eating. That is important because some fruits are hazardous. The wandering approach would be difficult and frustrating as the hundreds of trees and plants are planted in an apparent random park like fashion with little organization. Each plant is identified but there are so many that posted information about each would be impossible. There is an organization to the park layout but a novice would not recognize it. There is an alternative to wandering on foot. They have a tram tour. Great tour. Covers the whole park with full time narration by driver. Describing nearly every tree passed. Complete description of fruits and other useful parts. How fruits are used. Tastes. Much more. And yes, there is an organization to layout of park. Different areas have plants common to different parts of the world. Driver was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. She stopped several times and gathered fruit (she picked it from the trees – she worked there, she’s allowed) and gave us all a taste sample. Tour was supposed to be 45 minutes – took nearly 1 1/4 hours and might have gone longer but had to get back for next tour. Learned a great deal that would not have happened if we just wandered. At end of tour she gave us some Moringa Tree seeds. Just about every part of this tree can be eaten and it is loaded with nutrients. Buying the processed plant through health food stores, etc. can be pricey. Looking forward to trying to grow a tree when we get home.