Gabriele Marewski grows organic at Paradise Farms

Ten years ago, an abandoned avocado grove and a lettuce field were all that composed Paradise Farms (19801 SW 320th St., Homestead; 305 248-4181). But Gabriele Marewski had bigger plans, and today her place has grown into one of South Florida's agricultural success stories, yielding more than 100 products.

"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 online 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."

Paradise Farms is certified organic. Its 100 percent vegetarian bounty is found on plates at 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; 305-674-9450). And Marewski doesn't even own a tractor.

"Our biggest challenge is having enough capital to implement all the great ideas we have," she explains. "There is greater awareness, demand, and community support, but not enough producers."

This month, Creek 28 (2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-2727) will become the second restaurant to grow its own herbs and vegetables on premises with Marewski's help. Also, a revamped Paradise Farms website will include a farm blog, detailing everything that's happening on the ground and providing recipes and holistic uses for what's grown. All of this, and Marewski lives without air conditioning or television.

"We love growing labor-intensive, high-vibrating, beautiful, and delicious organic food," she says. "We want people to think about the choices they have and why good-quality organic food is so important."

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Jackie Sayet