In 2009 TFGSF received a USDA Specialty Crop grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Initiative for promotion of Florida tropical fruits. It was decided to produce a series of videos for the consumer so they could learn more about the trees by seeing the fruits on the trees, showing how to open and store the fruits, and to prepare a recipe with the fruit from start to finish. So this video series began.
TFGSF sought the services of local Homestead photographer, Ian Maguire, owner of the Creative House of Florida, Inc. Ian is a talented and accomplished photographer who has worked for several years with the University of Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center, TREC, as the Media Specialist. His photographic work at TREC has produced a large database of tropical fruit photographs of exceptional quality that have been published in scientific journals, cookbooks, magazine, etc. He is also gifted in website design, videography, and video production, AND he grows bananas!
The man behind the video camera is Shaun Wright, a Miami native and a graduate of Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications with a focus in TV Production, with an independent study of Visual Arts & Photography. Shaun has produced and directed his own movie, and is currently working at MTV in Miami, FL. Shaun loves swimming with alligators in the Everglades during the sunrise.
Julian Lara is the spokesman for our video series. He is a Homestead native, of Cuban parents. He has grown up working on his parents tropical fruit nursery and is extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of tropical fruits: their cultivation, their propagation, and their use in the kitchen. He has not only contributed his talent as a spokesman for tropical fruits, but Julian has also provided us with insight of tropical fruits that only someone who has grown up with these fruits can provide.
But the real chef of our video team is Leila Warner. Leila comes to Homestead from Hawaii where she grew up using many of the same tropical fruits that are grown here in the Redland agricultural area. She has been very active in the Tropical Fruit & Vegetable Society of the Redland for many years, and has supplied the monthly meetings with an endless variety of tasty tropical dishes using local tropical fruits and vegetables. She is a cook that thinks outside the box and we are fortunate that she has signed on to share her expertise with us.
In a few segments of the videos is Louise King. Louise is the current president of the Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida, and has administered the grant that included the video series and website development. Louise originally is from Maryland, but calls Florida her home now. She is a former Park Ranger with the National Park Service, but gave that up to stay at home to raise three children and a lychee grove, ALL now successfully grown.
We would like to thank the following TFGSF members for giving our video team access to their groves to shoot these videos: LNB Groves, Fresh Gardens, Red Dragon Fruit Grove, the University of Florida’s Tropical Research and Education Center, and Lara’s Grove & Nursery. We also very grateful to Leila Werner, Mr. & Mrs. Lara, and Louise King for giving us the use of their homes to shoot the kitchen and recipe sequences.
These videos would not have been possible without the Specialty Crop Initiative grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, FDACS. FDACS has been very supportive of our industry over the years, and is responsible for helping us to reach a broader audience to which to introduce Florida tropical fruits. We are very grateful for their support.