Bee Heaven Farm fka Pikarco, grew out of a long-standing dream. For many years, living in a subdivision restricted us to a family garden, where we experimented with various plants and organic growing techniques suitable to our subtropical climate.
1995: We purchased a 5-acre site in the heart of the historic Redland district in South Florida, just north of Homestead. Before market globalization and severe development pressure, this area was famous as the winter breadbasket of the United States.
1997: First certified organic by Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers, Inc. (FOG) now Quality Certification Services (QCS).
1998: The Redland farming area celebrated its 100th year of commercial agriculture, and is fighting to stay rural and productive in spite of development pressures from a burgeoning South Miami-Dade population.
1999-2000: Our avocado grove produced its first commercial crop. Our top quality fruit quickly sold out every year. We supply high-end local restaurants and markets & ship mail-order boxes directly to your home in most parts of the United States
2001-2002: Start of our market garden operation and our CSA subscription service, with 12 shares.
2002-2003: Together with a group of local organic and sustainable growers, we created Redland Organics. Our cooperative efforts allowed us to expand our offerings. First full-season CSA subscription service, with 40 shares.
Bee Heaven Farm joined the South Florida Farmers Market, at the Gardners Market in Pinecrest – the start of an amazing 17-year run, in which we grew from a small tent with one table to 4 tents and 15 tables, selling only South-Florida grown and Redland Raised produce, tropical fruit, and value-added farm products.
2003-2004: Explosive growth from 60 shares to 200 shares, with a waiting list. This caused us to reach out beyond the Homestead-Redland area to other organic growers in South Florida in order to satisfy the demand for locally-grown organic produce.
2004: Partnered with a local beekeeper to set up 20 new beehives for honey production. Planted an assortment of specialty banana plants. First summer CSA fruit shares.
2004-2005: Began offering certified organic egg share add-ons to our CSA subscribers. Second summer fruit share program. Bananas beginning to bear fruit.
Summer/Fall 2005: Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma walloped us! Bananas lost all their fruit and a full year’s worth of growth. Avocado grove fared pretty well. CSA season got off to a late start as a result of planting delays.
2005-2006: Our CSA and Farmer’s Markets running strong. Fruit trees starting to recover, and more baby chicks ordered to meet the demand for our certified organic eggs!
Summer 2006: Still feeling repercussions from Katrina and Wilma; the only fruit available was avocados.
2006-2007: Consumer interest in locally-grown and organic foods has resulted in increased publicity and over 350 shares. Egg shares selling out the first week.
2007-2008: Celebrating our 10th year of organic certification and our 7th CSA season!
Spring 2010: Co-founded the first producer-only market in South Florida in the Overtown (downtown Miami area) – first market to accept SNAP/EBT benefits and first to offer double-value incentives, in partnership with Wholesome Wave Foundation and Michael Schwartz.
2012-2013: Celebrating our 15th year anniversary of organic certification, and our 12th CSA season.
Established the annual October Redland GrowFest! celebration of all local things edible, green, and growing at the Fruit & Spice Park
2014: Installed 2-bay greenhouse structure to enhance seedling production.
2014: Partnered with Florida Organic Growers’ Fresh Access Bucks program, offering double-value incentives to SNAP/EBT recipients at our local market and CSA program with FDACS Specialty Crop Grant funding.
2015-2016: A hard year, with late start of summer wet season, continuing into an unusually wet and warm winter, made for an extremely difficult growing season. Most of the local production area was under an Oriental Fruit Fly quarantine, restricting or severely limiting fruit and vegetable growing and harvesting for 6 months.
2017: Hurricane Irma, a seemingly-weak Category 1 hurricane, wreaked major havoc in the Redland area, with numerous short microbursts – essentially mini tornadoes that did not register on radar. One bay of our greenhouse collapsed, and many trees were violently shaken and twisted. The resulting damage created superhighways for ambrosia beetles to set up laurel wilt fungus gardens in our avocado trees.
2018: A year of recovery and losses. Laurel wilt manifested in our grove and quickly spread via underground root grafts from one tree to the next. We began a process that continues to the current day, swiftly removing any sign of diseased limbs, or entire trees, in order to reduce the spread of this devastating disease.
2019: With the Pinecrest Farmers Market morphing more into prepared foods and requiring year-round attendance of its vendors, and declining attendance, we decided, after 17 years, to concentrate our efforts closer to home in the deep South Dade area.
2020-2022: A routine start to 2020 and the loss of a dear friend and co-producer was followed by the arrival of COVID-19. Shutdown did not slow us down – in fact, even though our CSA season was ending, we had an avalanche of requests for fresh food direct from the farm. Thus began two years of non-stop operations, with a pop-up farm stand; drive-thru box pickups, and two more CSA seasons with new pickup sites able to accommodate social distancing and other contact mitigation measures.
In May 2022, for the first time since we began operations, we found ourselves with ZERO employees for a couple of months. Thus began a new era for our farm – a time of reassessment, restructuring, and reimagining our future. We are growing old! We have begun a process of evolution and adaptation to “farming while elderly”, increasing even more our sustainability, labor efficiency, and embracing our natural resources. We’re also stepping back a bit to incorporate some occasional self-care, something I’ve found farmers forget to incorporate into their daily lives.
Stay tuned for further developments…good things are coming your way.
We welcome the opportunity to serve you.