10 years ago, an abandoned avocado grove and lettuce crop was all that comprised Paradise Farms (19801 SW 320th Street, Homestead; 305-248-4181,) hardly what one would consider Eden. But Gabriele Marewski had bigger plans, and today her farm has grown into one of South Florida's agricultural success stories yielding more than 100 different products throughout the year and counting.
"In addition to our edible flowers, we are expanding production of our baby greens and adding a variety of oyster mushrooms. We'll be bringing a dehydrator on-line for more fruit and other items," Marewski explains. "Beginning in January 2010, surplus product will be sold at the Coral Gables farmers' market. But we want people to take food production to the ultimate level of growing their own."
The farm is known
for its Dinners in Paradise with local chefs, a series that Michael
Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Food and Drink; 130 NE 40th Street, Miami;
305-573-5550) and she started four years ago. But the farm is adding
new initiatives like 'Ready to Grow Garden Beds' with soil and is working with the Education Fund to
get 16 garden beds into Miami-Dade public schools. In October, Creek 28 (
2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach; 305-531-2727) will be the second restaurant, after Bizcaya in Coconut Grove, to grow its own herbs and vegetables
on-premise with Marewski's help. A revamped website has also, as of August 30, added a
farm blog on everything that is happening on the ground, with recipes
and holistic uses for what's grown to come. All this, and this farmer
personally lives without AC or TV.
"We love growing labor
intensive, high vibrating, beautiful, and delicious organic food,"
Marewski reflects. "We want people to think about the choices they
have and why good quality organic food is so important."
Paradise Farms is a certified organic farm practicing biodynamic
principles, and is a pioneering supplier in South Florida's local foods
movement. Its 100 percent vegetarian bounty is exclusively found on
the plates of some of the top tables around town, including Meat Market
(915 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; (305) 532-0088) and Escopazzo (1311
Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139; (305) 674-9450.) It's amazing to think that the farm doesn't own a tractor and weeds, plants, and harvests everything by hand, but the operation prioritizes quality over quantity.
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biggest challenge is having enough capital to implement all the great
ideas we have," Marewski says. "There is greater awareness, demand,
and community support, but not enough producers."