Monday, June 13, 2011

Florida Lychee Grower Continues Direct Public Sales

Run to Loxahatchee to get your fresh lychees before they're gone. Kenari Groves Inc is continuing to sell their pesticide-free lychees direct to the south Florida public.

Last year they made the switch from wholesale to retail. A late growing season put their crop in direct competition with Mexican and Chinese fruit causing the wholesale lychee price to hit rock bottom.

Rose and U (pronounced 'oo') Khin have owned Kenari Groves since 1997. Mr. Khin tells me many people get confused by his name and call him Ken. But his Burmese name is U Khin, which literally translates to Uncle Khin.

Driving in a golf cart, a short while later, through the back grove with Rose, she points to a large tree covered in bright red Brewster lychees and says, "The bumpy skin shows it is not ready."

She goes on to tell me about ripeness. Sometimes the skins are green from lack of exposure to the sun but this does not mean they are not ready. It all depends on how they feel. Stepping from the gulf-cart, she walks up to a bunch of fresh fruit hanging low on a Mauritius lychee tree and pulls one off. Handing it to me she says, "It is ready when it feels like a balloon filled with water."

I roll the fruit around in my hand and it feels exactly like that. I bite into its red, slightly brittle skin, squirting sweet sticky juice into my mouth. I peel off the remaining skin using both my teeth and my fingers. There is nothing like fresh lychee.

"We are in this business and we want people to try the best," Rose says snipping a bunch of fresh lychees and putting them in the front of our golf cart.

We ride back to the main house via mango trees that line the perimeter of the 20-acre grove. "They are green right now and won't be ready for another few weeks," she tells me.

Back at the house I take a seat next to U Khin and he tells me about Brewster lychees."They have deceptively bright red skin but they are not ready. It will be about the 15th or 16th of July when they are ready."

The Khins are getting selling help from Darrin Swank of Swank Specialty Produce, a hydroponic farm in the Loxahatchee area. Swank includes lychees in orders to his chef clients around south Florida.

Before I leave, I buy 10 lbs of Mauritius lychees at $3 a pound. I'll have to return next month to try the Brewsters.

Kenari Groves will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until they run out of fruit. They only take cash.

Their address is listed as being on "D" Road but the entrance to the grove is located at 14404 Trip Raod, Loxahatchee, FL  33470
You can call 561-313-7202 for more details or directions.

You can also see info on their Facebook page

1 comment:

  1. Lychee is season is great...I lived in Orlando but I have tons of people coming from up North to visit me during the Lychee season. Too bad that most of the growers in South Florida are not very friendly and would not allow anyone to enter their farm and pick the fruit by themselves. I did found a nice Indian lady in Homestead a few years ago who was kind enough to allowed me and my family to enter her farm and pick lychee and mangoes. She also allowed us to each as much as we can and when we done, we bought a few pounds of mangoes and lychee. She told me that she no longer sales to the local markets because they pays only pennies on the dollar for a pound of her fruits but she have to do all the works of picking it and cleaning it too. Thru the years I would always go to her place and eat lychee of the trees but a few years ago she sold her farm and move to Georgia because she didn't like the area anymore as it's not good for kids education. Maybe it's because she really didn't need the money from the selling of the fruits from her farm. Her husband is a doctor and she got her land including a nice size house for really cheap. I she told me she only paid $150k for it and it's a 10 farm full of tropical fruits. She bought it right after hurricane Andrew hit and so many people where leaving south florida...I am still looking for another farm that would allowed self picking because I have tons of people asking me for it. They didn't like the fact that they cannot go and pick it themselves. I guess they wanted that experience of picking your own fresh fruit from the trees..