garden visits

eating through the fruit and spice park

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While we eventually had to say our goodbyes to the beautiful landscapes that make up South Florida, we could not leave before seeing one of the edible gardens I have read about a number of times, the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead. While the numbers are still low, edible landscaped parks are starting to pop up in a number of areas around the country. The Fruit and Spice Park might be the oldest in the US having been founded in 1945. It is now operated by Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation.

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We entered the park through the store browsing a bit as we went through. The store allows you to see and sample many of the fruits from the park for free (even if you don’t go into the park). It’s definitely worth the visit just to try all of the weird and delicious tropical fruits they have to offer.

fruit and spice park edibles

fruit-to-try

After filling up on round one of fruit tasting, it was time to move on to see the park itself. While the park offers a free tram tour throughout the park, we opted to wander and create our own journey, as we often do. The park consists of 37 lush acres of park that displays a seemingly endless variety of fruit. Let’s just say, we were full force geeks the moment we entered the gates.

fountain-at-spice-parkThe botanical garden is divided up geographically with Carribean, African, Australian, and Asian sections. We started our journey wandering through the banana groves in the Tropical America section. There were bananas and coconuts everywhere!

banana grovebanana-tree

coconuts

Beyond the these ubiquitous tropical fruits, the variety was incredible. I immediately felt like I didn’t recognize any plants in many areas. (This is a rare phenomenon for me) The diversity is incredible. Luckily, there are a number of these wonderful signs to help out.

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It’s always important to know what you are eating before you taste a big juicy unknown fruit like this unripe sugar apple.

sugar appleEven though the Fruit and Spice Park weighs more heavily on edibles, there is plenty of beauty everywhere. Some of the fruit trees had really interesting and wonderful flowers. This is just a small taste.

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There were several plants you wouldn’t think about for an edible garden.  They had more types of palms than I have ever seen before with all of them providing a different edible use. I even found this little lady sneaking into the African oil palm picture.

that-wifeyFrom there, it wasn’t long before we found the mango and avocado orchard. It seemed like the best spot to take a little load off and have a quick snack. Let’s just say if mangoes were in season, we may not have ever left. Instead, we snacked on some fresh avocado.

fruit-trees-at-spice-parkfresh-organic-avocado

The rest of the journey was more scenic filled with botanical marvels like the African baobab tree and beautiful sweeps of bamboo. This bamboo tunnel filled with many varieties makes for a very nice walk around the large pond in the center.

baobab treebamboo-walk

Believe it or not, there was so much more. The Fruit and Spice Park has it all covered. If you can imagine a tropical fruit or vegetable, they probably have it somewhere on site. Our journey had to come to an end though. On the way out, we made a quick visit through the Mediterranean garden.
raised beds fruit and spice park
We even found one of our favorites, comfrey, in the raised beds. The Fruit and Spice Park is truly a gem and not to be missed. I have a feeling we will be back to see and taste this all over again (at least during mango season that is).

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