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By: Melina Martinez-Echeverria

With acres of farms and long, winding country roads, the Homestead area is a total departure from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Miami and South Beach. It also has a fascinating history of pioneer homesteaders who moved south to farm the land and develop Miami’s agricultural industry at the turn of the 20th century.

History of Knaus Berry Farm

One such family was the Knaus brothers, Jess and Harley, who moved to Florida from Missouri in 1924. They came for construction work, helping to build Miami during its first development boom. When the hurricane of 1926 ended that run, they returned to their farming roots and began raising vegetables on an 80-acre farm near what is today the Homestead Air Reserve Base.

By 1934 the farm was doing well enough that the brothers could build identical two-story houses a short distance from where Knaus Berry Farm is located today. Jess’ sons, Russell and Ray, spent their childhood at the farm. In 1942 (with the German military disrupting shipping off the Florida coast) the Knaus brothers decided they were too close to the war front and moved back to Missouri.

In 1956, Ray and Russell returned to Florida and began growing strawberries together in the Redland area. They set up a small roadside stand near the current Knaus Berry Farm location to sell their berries to the locals. To this day, the farm remains a family-owned and operated business. Over the years, assorted baked goods, vegetables and milkshakes have become a part of the farm’s traditional offerings, along with u-pick strawberries and tomatoes. And who can forget those irresistible cinnamon rolls? Locals and visitors travel for miles to take a bite of the sweet, gooey and sugary treats that will melt in your mouth.

Visiting the farm

The farm and fruit stand is a popular attraction from November through mid-April, when it’s open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. There are also special event openings, so it might be a good idea to call or check the website for current times. The cash-only fruit stand has a menu that includes everything to satisfy that sweet tooth. Oh, and prepare to wait in a long line because their goodies are just that good.

Pick Your Own Berries

Whatever you do, don’t miss a chance to pick your own berries on a visit to Knaus Berry Farm. There’s nothing fresher than a sweet strawberry or tomato picked directly from the vine. Grab a basket and head behind the fruit stand, where rows of fruits and veggie plants await. One section of the farm is devoted to a vertical growing system, so you don’t have to bend down or get dirty to pluck the best-looking produce. For those who prefer picking strawberries the old-fashioned way, you can also select your berries from the traditional rows of strawberry patches. One thing is for sure… a stop at Knaus Berry Farm while visiting Homestead is a fun (and sweet!) time for the whole family.

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