Posted November 10, 2015
By STEPHANIE FREIRE
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – “I remember taking you here as a little girl Steph,” said my grandmother, Maggie Hernandez. “You use to love running through the strawberry fields and searching for the perfect, juicy berry to eat right off the stem.”
It was a hot morning on the first Saturday of the Knaus Berry Farm’s 2015-16 season. As we pulled up, lush, green trees suddenly changed to a line of people in the distance wrapping along the block.
My grandmother and I parked on the opposite side of the road at the first parking space available. As we got out of the car, we could already smell the baked treats and, so, we approached the three hour-long line for the farm’s famous bakery.
In 1956, the Knaus brothers began growing strawberries here. They set up a small stand on the side of the road to sell their berries. Some of their strawberries were sold through a broker who loved Ray Knaus’ wife’s cookies and said they were good enough to sell as well.
Over the years, the family’s strawberries, baked goods, vegetables, honey, jams and jellies, milk shakes and ice creams have been sold at Knaus Berry Farm. The farm also offers strawberry and tomatoes picking.
As we took our place in line, we began talking to the two young women in front of us, Julie and Veronica Vega. The two girls were from Fort Lauderdale and have been visiting Knaus Berry Farm for the past four years.
“It’s become a sister tradition for us to come to Knaus Berry Farm,” said Veronica, the eldest sister. “I come for the world famous milkshakes and she comes for the homemade cinnamon rolls. They are worth the wait!”
As the sun began to beat down on us, I decided to walk around to see what else the farm had to offer. I walked up to the small, white wood building and found the milkshake window to the right of the entrance to the bakery. The line only had about eight people so I decided to jump in and grab a milkshake for my grandmother and I. Once at the window, Laura Rose, an employee at Knaus Berry Farm for the past two farm seasons, greeted me at the window.
“A crowd favorite has to be our strawberry milkshakes,” said Rose. “They are made from our strawberries grown on the farm and have even won some awards. They are definitely my all time favorite too.”
The milkshake was unlike anything I had ever tasted. It was creamy, sweet and had little dots of strawberry throughout.
I headed to the back of the farm where I found the strawberry, tomato and flower fields of the farm. The fruits were not yet at their prime season but if you would look closely, you could see the little white flowers growing that would eventually become the fruit.
As I approached the bakery line once more, I began to realize that we weren’t any closer from when I left. “Abuela, are you sure you want to wait this entire line just for baked goods,” I said. “We’re going to be here for about an hour more.”
My grandmother looked at me with soft eyes.
“Stephanie, always finish what you have begun. We are almost there and I would love to spend more time with you,” she told me.
The Vega girls also chimed in and convinced me to stay. About an hour later, we were walking into the bakery. The smells of cinnamon, chocolate and sweet pies hit us as soon as we stepped foot inside. A menu above the cash register listed everything imaginable from pies to bread sticks to cheesecakes and of course, the farm’s famous homemade cinnamon rolls.
Deciding what to get was not easy.
“Next in line please,” said Matthew Peters, the Knaus Berry Farm bakery manager. I told Peters we were having trouble deciding on what to get.
“No worries,” said Peters as he opened the small window to the kitchen.
He called over Gretchen, the head baker at the farm. The two began naming their favorite backed goods and started joked around; it almost reminded me of how my brother and I act with each other. I asked Peters how he liked working at the farm.
“Honestly, we are like one big family, said Peters. “It’s my third season working here and I’ll admit, I miss these guys during the off-season. We all work well together and who doesn’t like to work in a place with some of the best baked goods, jams, fruits and vegetables?”
My grandmother and I paid for our treats and sat down on a picnic table off to the side of the farm to taste the goods. The ooey-gooey frosting covered my mouth as I took a bite into the light and fluffy pastry. They truly were worth the wait.
Three little boys were laughing on the grass playing soccer next to us while their parents set up a picnic blanket. I began to observe the people that came to Knaus Berry Farm. They were young families with their children, adult couples, teenagers and grandparents. The farm is a place where everyone can enjoy the land and the food that came from it.
If You Go
Address and Phone Number:
15980 SW 248th St., Homestead, Fla. 33031, 305-247-0668
Hours of Operation:
8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Mondays – Saturdays, open every November through mid-April, closed during the summer months, Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Good to Know:
- Cash only
- Best times to go are early mornings on a weekday
- Phone orders can be taken, excluding Saturdays and holidays
- Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the farm will have online shipping available