What would you do if life gave you bananas instead of lemons?
Gaelle Corrales and Alfredo Corrales had to think about that very thing back in 2005. One day they found themselves with a bunch of banana trees, and they had to decide whether to take a whack at off the grid farming or not.
In the early 2000s, during the housing bubble, the couple had bought a field of cane grass and rented it out to a banana farmer. But after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma, the farmer decided he didn’t want to continue farming bananas, so he broke his lease.
Fortunately, both Gaelle and Alfredo had been considering farm life, though neither of them had agricultural backgrounds. The couple were living and working in Cutler Bay at the time, and the only farming experience they had was that they kept chickens and bees in the backyard of their suburban home.
The experience made Gaelle realize that she was able to get quality eggs and honey right out of her own backyard.
“I couldn’t believe I had something better than what you find in store,” she said.
It was just the thing that encouraged the couple to follow their dream to live off the land. Slowly, they transformed the banana field into a farm. They had to learn everything day by day, starting with how to grow and sell bananas. It took them five years to get their system just right.
Now, Farmer Fred is a local family farm that specializes in chicken eggs, kombucha, honey, bananas, and goats’ milk products.
If you’re not familiar with kombucha, it’s a fermented tea. According to an article by NPR, the drink has many potential health benefits, though there isn’t a lot of evidence to support all of the claims. What has been verified so far is that kombucha contains probiotics that can aide digestion and it can possibly strengthen the immune system.
Something that Gaelle said takes up a big part of the day are their goats.
“It took a long time to figure out the goats,” Gaelle said. “They need constant monitoring – feedings, mani-pedis, milkings.”
She explained that by “mani-pedi,” she meant that they have to look after and trim the goats’ hooves. Goat hooves are different from horse hooves in that they are cloven, which means they’re split into two toes.
When asked if there was a chance that the goats could be brought to the farmers’ market, Gaelle said that unfortunately they’re not allowed to bring them at the moment.
As for the bananas, Hurricane Irma knocked down a bunch; Gaelle and Alfredo are currently rebuilding that part of the farm. The banana trees will take 6 months to recover, and winter slows them down, so it might be a bit before the market sees bananas from Farmer Fred. But market-goers do have some news to look forward to.
According to Gaelle, honey is coming back. In addition, Farmer Fred is working on getting a manufacturer’s permit to help them bring more local food to the community.
What makes their products special? Since the farm is running off the grid, there is no freezer on the farm. Everything that is prepared has to be done while ingredients are fresh.
You can find Farmer Fred at the Southwest Community Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, from 9am to 3pm. Be sure to ask about how you can get a discount on their famous kombucha. If you’d like to keep in touch with Farmer Fred and see what they have in store for the week, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.