Monkey Soul

Tonite I got a call from Brian Stanton, AKA Monkey Soul. Brian is one of the main organizers of the Gainesville based Edible Plant Project.  He is also involved with UF’s Hip-Hop Collective, which I think is really cool. But mostly, we just talked fruit.
Brian gave me loads of info about locating free organic fruit throughout Gainesville and the surrounding area.  Basically what has happened is some earth minded students rent out a house, plant some oranges or loquats or guavas and then move onto other places of residence. Then some kids who literally don’t give a fig take over the place, completely disinterested in the bounty growing outside their front door.  All over Gainesville there is perfect fruit just falling to the ground to rot and in the meantime, people are buying their California oranges from  the supermarket.
He plugged me into some hot spots (loquat trees behind Planned Parenthood, the Mulberry mother tree behind Book Lover’s Cafe).  Also he directed me to more obscure places, like a whole mess of muscadines growing near a dumpster behind an apartment complex he once lived at as well as a 30′ wide canopy of mulberries growing in off the highway in the middle of nowhere behind a convenience store.

I really wish Brian would make a map of his knowledge so that this information is not lost in generations to come.  Also, it would make my life easier since I did a really sloppy job of scribbling down the locations of the trees Brian was rattling off.

It was great talking with someone so passionate about fruit.  Brian also tipped me off to The Fruit & Spice Park, located in South Florida.  I must go.  According to the website:

The Fruit & Spice Park is the only tropical botanical garden of its kind in the United States. The unique 37-acre public facility is owned and operated by the Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department. Located in South Florida. The Park’s tropical climate can be found nowhere else in the continental U.S. and hosts over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts, and other commercially important plant specimens from around the world. The Park showcases 150 varieties of mango, 75 varieties of bananas, 70 bamboo varieties, and numerous other exotic edibles. Visitors are invited to munch at our tasting counter inside our Park Store.

According to Brian, you can also eat anything which has fallen to the ground.

The Fruit & Spice Park offers tours, kids activities (herb pizza garden!), even international fruit tasting trips (next location: Bali and Borneo). Now that I know about this park, I am going to ask my husband to take me on the honeymoon we never had. Nothing could be more romantic than eating tropical fruit off the jungle floor.

Brian is coming up from West Palm mid-October (he no longer lives in the area) and I hope I can hook up with him and get the first hand 411 on the local fruit spots. In the meantime, there are some area people I am going to try to get in touch with. The Edible Plant Project is at the farmers market in Gainesville the first Wednesday of the month, but this Wednesday was skipped due to Rosh Hashanah.

Which reminds me…Happy New Year, Mom!



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2 responses to “Monkey Soul

  1. Anonymous

    Dear Devadeva!Lucky you to have such a great friend who knows the “treasure chests” of the area…. My husband and I found all of ours in many long walks through the area and did make a map – with GoggleEarth! It’s very useful for marking every single currant bush and you can even add descriptions/comments on whatever you marked.So, keep blogging – it’s always a pleasure to read!Greetings from Germany,Luise

  2. Devadeva Mirel

    wow…how great that you did the map! is your map available online? do you have many kindred spirits in your area?thanks for reading!

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