Edible Guide to Homestead & the Redland
Winter is the ideal season to visit the agricultural district in South Miami-Dade. The temperatures are delightful, the neat rows of crops and palm trees provide a welcome change of scenery and there’s a long list of food and farms to visit — some old standbys, other new discoveries — worthy of a day trip or a weekend getaway.
Redland? The Redland? Redlands?
The name comes from the tint of the clay in the soil settlers found when they arrived in South Miami-Dade, but what’s the right way to use it? We turned to historian Dr. Paul George, who explains: “In 1910, they incorporated a community called Redland, but it passed out of existence. Later, people referred informally to the area from Kendall to Florida City as Redlands.” Today, there’s little consistency in its usage-just look at these established organizations: Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Society of the Redland; Hotel Redland; Faith Church of the Redlands; Redlands Art Association; and Schnebly Redland’s Winery. INSIDER TIP: Whichever way you choose to say it, people know what you mean.
Rob's Redland Riot Road Rallye
Every third Saturday in January, Robert Burr hosts this fun adventure through rural south Miami-Dade. Starting from Cauley Square, participants get a map of the route, plus cryptic instructions and questions to answer based on stops along the way. All gather at Schnebly Redland’s Winery, where the winning team is announced. Everyone’s a winner — participants get an up-close look at many of the best farm and food experiences in the Redland. Grab a bunch of friends and visiting snowbirds for an unforgettable time. Next year’s event is Sat., Jan. 20, 2018 – register at Cauley Square between 10 and 11am ($10 per car team). redlandriot.com
INSIDER TIP: If you can’t make the January event, just visit redlandriot.com for a route map and enjoy the tour on your own time.
Visitors Information HQ
Tourists and locals alike can find something new to explore at the Tropical Everglades Visitor Center on US 1 just south of SW 344 St. (the turnoff for Robert Is Here and Everglades National Park). For 27+ years, this center has been delivering useful advice for exploring South Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys.
INSIDER TIP: Look for touches of local history here – vintage displays of old tourism material, the Hurricane Andrew-battered flag, and an early Schnebly Winery display.
Tour the Farm
If your most recent farm experience involved cows and corn up north, you may be surprised at South Florida farms. Instead of tall silos and red barns, you may see avocado trees, greenhouses with trays of microgreens and heirloom tomatoes climbing vertical supports, and bananas and papayas. Farm days and open houses let you sample and buy what they grow, and are popular with grownups and kids, too.
INSIDER TIP: Plan on doing your produce shopping on site after the tour is over.
BEE HEAVEN FARM
You’ll find Bee Heaven’s organic produce at Pinecrest Gardens and in their CSA program. Every December they host an annual Farm Day with food, hayrides, live music and yoga. Check the website for events; also look for farm news on Marian Wertalka’s excellent blog, RedlandRambles.com.
Teena Borek’s tomatoes and produce show up in CSAs and farmers markets tables. At her monthly seasonal free open houses, you can tour the farm, try and buy fresh produce and taste dishes made by chefs.
THREE SISTERS FARM
This relatively new organic farm begins daytime tours ($10)in Jan. that include samples of what they grow, tropical treats like black sapote or jaboticaba. They host weekly farm dinners (see Dine on the Farm, below).
Pick It Yourself
On a gorgeous winter day, picking and eating warm-from-the-sun sweet strawberries and tomatoes is truly one of South Florida’s pleasures. U-pick prices run about $3 a pound; they’re around $3.50 already picked. Nowadays, it’s safe for kids to pick, too. Strawberry season runs Dec. through April.
INSIDER TIP: Shawn Housh of Curbside Market says pickers should look for berries that are completely red, not white or pink —they don’t ripen after picking. Just give the berry a twist to break it off the stem; don’t pull the plant out of the ground.
BURR'S BERRY FARM
Run by members of the farming pioneer Burr family, this popular U-pick has been operating since 1965. For those who have a hard time kneeling or bending, or use a wheelchair, Burr’s Berry Farm (burrsberryfarm.com) includes a hydroponic vertical growing system in addition to plants in the ground. Open Dec.-early May.
Find on Facebook
Run by Amy and Shawn Housh, this stand grows fat strawberries and tomatoes for you to select, or buy them by the pound. They also sell shakes and baked goods (see Get a Shake and More).
KNAUS BERRY FARM
People line up for their sticky buns (see Get a Shake and More), but there are also U-pick fields in back when strawberries ripen, from Jan. through April. Closed on Sundays.
Head to Homestead for good Mexican food at places like:
• La Quebradita Taqueria
• El Santo Coyote
• Taqueria Morelia
Local Flavors: Places to Eat
Homestead and The Redland are home to diverse attractions — Everglades National Park, Fruit and Spice Park, historic downtown Homestead, Historic Cauley Square, Everglades Alligator Farm, Monkey jungle and Coral Castle. In addition to chain hotels, there’s the charming Everglades International Hostel — worth a visit to check out the waterfall and treehouse out back. You’ll find good food (and reasonable prices) throughout this part of South Florida, including savory pupusas, fresh Mexican fare and meals made with produce harvested from the fields.
CHEFS ON THE RUN
You’ll find everything from Puerto Rican specialties, healthy foods, Asian dishes and local seafood on chef jodrick Ujaque’s eclectic menu. This Homestead restaurant will be at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Grand Tasting Village again this year. BYOB. Closed Sun. and Mon.
This is where locals lunch, and why not? The menu includes smoothies, shakes and desserts using fresh fruits from the park, plus dishes like Florida lobster roll and craft beers at excellent prices, too. The gift shop stocks Gaby’s tropical fruit ice cream, unusual fruit drinks and other treats made from exotic fruits. Open daily 11am-4pm.
REDLAND MARKET VILLAGE
Part farmers market, flea market, tire shop and pet shop, this complex off U.S. 1 is a always a fun destination on weekends, when many of the local Hispanic communities turn out to shop. Under the diffused light, the sacks of dried beans, cups of colorful cut fruits and stacked produce look like still lifes. While not all the produce is local, it’s fresh and the prices are good. The Salvadoran restaurant in the front serves tasty pupusas, while the stands in the back serve tacos, fruit cups and authentic Mexican fare. There’s beer, too. Farmers market open Thurs.-Sun.
SCHNEBLY REDLAND'S WINERY
This oasis of tropical landscaping and waterfalls cascading down coral rocks is unique in many respects. You can tour the facility, where they make wines from local tropical fruits — mango, lychee, guava, carambola, passionfruit and avocado — and craft brews that include Big Rod Coconut Ale and Shark Bait, with mango. The lush setting is a popular event venue and lively gathering spot on weekends, and the brewery is also the scene for Om Brew Yoga sessions. And soon they’ll feature food from noted Miami chef Dewey LoSasso, a longtime friend of founder Peter Schnebly. “We’ve been threatening to work together for a while,” says LoSasso, who is planning locally driven menus that will include soups, crudos and ceviches and grassfed beef. Food service, via a food truck, will begin on Fridays and Saturdays and expand gradually, he says, making use of the abundant produce in the area.
Get a smoky taste of Homestead’s country roots at this family-owned restaurant that’s been serving slow-smoked baby back ribs, pork and beef ribs, chicken and brisket for more than 50 years. Open daily.
BURR'S BERRY FARM
This friendly family farmstand and U-pick sells strawberry treats: milkshakes, sundaes, yogurt, shortcakes and chocolate-dipped fruits, plus fresh produce, baked goods and homemade jams, jellies, pickles and salsa.
CURBSIDE MARKET AND SHAKES
In addition to fruit shakes, you can find fresh cinnamon and pecan cinnamon rolls, pie, cornbread and freshly baked loaves, even glutenfree choices here, thanks to a newly expanded kitchen.
Get a Shake... and More at Farm Stands
Creamy shakes made with fresh strawberries are the mainstay, but you can also find shakes made with tropical fruits like passionfruit and mango, avocado and even cold-brew coffee. You’ll also find baked goods: sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread and fresh-baked quick breads and produce, fresh from the field..
INSIDER TIP: The line for sticky buns on Saturdays at Knaus Berry Farm rivals those for cronuts at Dominique Ansel’s SoHo bakery or hot dogs at Hot Doug’s in Chicago, before it closed last fall. If you can’t wait in line, visit their competitors, below — all feature tasty baked goods, too.
KNAUS BERRY FARM
On any sunny Saturday, from the end of Nov. through April, crowds patiently wait to buy their sticky buns. If you’re only here for shakes or produce, those lines are much shorter. Go on a weekday, not a holiday. Their new coffee shakes, made with Bald Baker coffee (also sold here), make a perfect counterpart to their sweet rolls. They do ship their sticky buns.
PHIL'S BERRY FARM
Not far from U.S. 1 on S.W. 248 St., Phil’s red barn signs promise no lines for strawberry shakes and sweet monkey bread. They also carry produce, pies and quick breads. Open Fri.-Mon. year-round, so you can find lychee, longan and other tropical fruits in the summer.
ROBERT IS HERE
Robert Moehling is still here selling produce, as he’s been doing since he was 6, but so is the rest of the family. This family business includes a newly expanded kitchen, where they whip up shakes from tropical fruits and batches of fresh guacamole, among other items. Keep an eye out for exotic fruits like Keys-grown guanabana (soursop), pomelo and small sweet bananas, heirloom tomatoes and fruit breads. And don’t miss their impressive range of honeys and hot sauces — these make great gifts and they ship. In the back there’s a petting zoo and old tractors, and weekends feature live music.
Dine on the Farm
It doesn’t get fresher than literal farm-to-table meals, often under the stars twinkling brightly, far from city lights. Special farm meals range from humble affairs to those featuring name chefs; whichever you choose, you’ll be dining on produce harvested only hours earlier.
INSIDER TIP: Make reservations — many of these dinners sell out quickly.
DINNER IN PARADISE
Every year during the growing season, Gabriele Marewski’s Paradise Farms hosts weekend dinners or brunch prepared on site by top chefs, using local organic produce. Guests can even add on a stay in their guesthouses.
This 10-acre organic avocado farmstead and event venue has now partnered with New York Food Co. to host Escondido dining experiences using locally sourced organic produce from Verde Farms, fish and meat and artisan fare. “We’ve included certain elements into the event that really make it into a ‘fairytalelike’ experience,” says chef Kathryn Shirley.
THREE SISTERS FARM
Under farmer/chef jon Gambino, Three Sisters Farm, across from Fruit and Spice Park, grows organic tropical fruits and vegetables like red bananas, jaboticaba and yuca as well as winter crops, all for sale at their farm stand. Experience true zero-mile dining here. During the day, tour the farm and sample what’s growing ($10); on weekends, there are multicourse lunches and Saturday night farm meals made with what they grow. They even process their yuca into cassava flour.