It’s 4:30 a.m. in Homestead. The trucks are waiting and ready, full of fresh-picked produce gathered up the night before from several surrounding farms. There’s just enough time for husband-and- wife Meyling and Ever Arana to grab a quick breakfast, head up the Turnpike, restock their shelves, and open the doors of Fruteria La Hacienda to greet several regulars already waiting outside.
Just another ordinary morning – at this extraordinary farmer’s market in North Miami Beach. And as they enter their third year in business, they’re starting to see the long hours pay off, as the aisles are full of shoppers seven days a week. Better yet, this small, family-run operation is now drawing customers from as far away as Doral, Hollywood, and Fort Lauderdale seeking fresh, healthy, low-priced fruits and vegetables.
“We love to do this,” says Meyling. “We choose to work every aspect of the business ourselves, so we can pass on the savings to the customer.”
Fruteria La Hacienda, Spanish for “fruit shop,” specializes in fresh, organic produce typical of South and Central American, but grown just 60 miles south in the Homestead/Redlands region. And it is healthier, too – produce that spends less time on the road loses less nutrients along the way.
Summer-month crops presently lining the shelves include avocado, mangos, mushrooms, passion fruit, watermelon, and lychee. But they also offer locally grown zucchini, green beans, yellow squash, tomatoes, as well as Thai basil, Chinese eggplant, and dragon fruit.
According to Ever, “You will also find a mix of clientele here that represents the area… It makes me very happy to be able to treat everyone with special affection.”
Fruteria La Hacienda proudly offers items from Brazil, Kosher products, and many items that appeal to various ethnic groups, such as people of Russian heritage. “The Russians seem to especially like apples,” says Meyling. “So we always want the freshest apples.”
“We have grown accustomed to what our customers like,” she adds. And if they don’t carry a specific item, customers are encourages to ask.
“I am very proud of our business, because people can get certain fruits here that they can’t afford to get elsewhere – and then take home to enjoy with their family,” says Meyling. “But more important than anything, I am proud to be able to play a part in bringing joy to people.”
Meyling says customers like how the family staff works so well together. “And we work very hard,” she adds, “But what they don’t see is when we close, we dance and celebrate that we’ve finished another amazing day.”
Visit Fruteria La Hacienda seven days a week at 17052 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call 786-440-
7378 for information, or visit www.fruterialahaciendafarmersmarket.com.