How the Tip of Florida Became a Tropical-Fruit Paradise (Atlas Obscura)

How the Tip of Florida Became a Tropical-Fruit Paradise

The Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida—or TREC, as it’s known to local farmers—is nearly as far south and east as you can go in the United States before you hit saltwater. Perched on a narrow strip of land between the peat marsh of the Everglades and the mangrove forest of Biscayne Bay, it’s just two degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer. Hot, sticky, and almost comically humid nine months of the year, the little toe of the Sunshine State is the only part of the contiguous United States with a tropical monsoon climate.

Geographically speaking, TREC is in the Caribbean Basin. This is how this 160-acre offshoot of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences came to have one of the most impressive collections of tropical fruit in the country.

“Coming up is our white sapote,” says Jonathan Crane, TREC’s assistant director and a tropical fruit specialist with the university, as he points out to his orchards with more than a touch of fatherly pride. To celebrate the center’s 90th birthday, Crane is giving public tours from a covered metal wagon pulled by a pickup truck.

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