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Posts Tagged ‘Murray Bass’

The big barn in the back of Bee Heaven Farm is where a lot of things happen. In the winter, a packing line for CSA shares is set up in its large open space.  Then in summer a slightly different packing line is set up to sort and box organic  avocados from the Bee Heaven grove.

Trees in the Bee Heaven grove are loaded with fruit.

Trees in the Bee Heaven grove are loaded with fruit.

Periodically through the summer, Farmer Margie delivers pallets of freshly-harvested large green Donnies and red-skinned Hardees directly to the Whole Foods Market Florida warehouse in Pompano Beach, where they are distributed to area stores the very next day.

Cleaning and grading avocados.

Cleaning and grading avocados.

Because the barn is a certified organic packing house, from summer through fall, local grower Murray Bass backs in trailer loads of his organic avocados to pack there. His crew cleans, sorts and boxes avocados all day long.

Filling boxes to be sold under Uncle Matt's brand.

Filling boxes to be sold under Uncle Matt’s brand.

Then pallet loads of his avocados are taken over to the Florida City State Farmers Market Facility, where they are kept in a large drive-up cooler. Big rigs from Publix and Whole Foods can back in easily to the loading docks to pick up their orders. Look for Murray’s avocados sold under the Uncle Matt’s brand!

Unloading pallets of Uncle Matt's avocados at the Florida City market.

Unloading pallets of Uncle Matt’s avocados at the Florida City market.

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A two foot long jakfruit split open.

Last Saturday I shopped at two markets, one small and friendly, and one big and corporate. First, I stopped by to see what was new at the Upper Eastside Market, and it was loaded with good things to eat. Who says it’s too hot to grow anything here in the summer? Over at the Nature Boyz juice stand, Clive had a couple of good sized jakfruit available. They are starting to mature this time of year. Further down the row of tents, I found locally grown okra, collards, calabaza, lemongrass, fresh akee and annona fruit. You could get callaloo and plantains from Three Sisters Farm in Redland, sweet potatoes grown on a small farm in Kendall, and loads of starfruit from a garden just down the street in Miami Shores. The eggs were from hens kept somewhere in North Miami, shhhhh! They even had bags of white and brown organic rice grown and milled in Belle Glade. Almost everything at this market is local — sourced either from Miami-Dade County or somewhere in Florida.

Local avocados grown for Uncle Matt’s.

My next stop was Whole Foods in Aventura. I’d heard there was local fruit in the stores, and wanted to see for myself. I easily spotted a nice heap of shiny and fresh green avocados carrying the Uncle Matt’s brand, and grown locally by Murray Bass. Nearby were medium sized mamey from Health and Happiness Farm, but their pints of longans had sold out.

The fruits looked pretty good, but specialty items were another story. Packets of allspice leaves and berries from Bee Heaven Farm were starting to look a little brown. Bunches of wilting garlic chives, also from Bee Heaven, were piled in a shallow basket in an open cooler. They were starting to wilt, and looked in desperate need of a mister. One shelf up were boxes of extremely perishable edible flowers from Paradise Farms that looked flat, dried up and inedible.

Overall, I have to give Whole Foods credit for making a good effort to support local growers. They are doing an OK job of sourcing local fruits this summer. But, by the looks of things, their produce people could use training on how to handle delicate specialty items. And of course, there’s just no comparison to shopping at the neighborhood farmer’s market, which has plenty of extremely fresh, locally sourced items!

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Packing avocados

Organic avocado grower Murry Bass of Wyndham Organics was packing avocados in the Bee Heaven Farm barn for most of the summer. His fruit was selling under the Uncle Matt’s brand at Whole Foods. Although Murray is done packing his avo’s, there are still some late varieties getting picked and coming to stores.

I made this little story to show you how the fruit gets from the tree to the store. Click on the image to see the full sized comic page. (I made the comic last summer, but the process is pretty much the same from year to year.)

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