If you visit Eric Bjerregnaard’s booth at Boondox Tropicals, you’ll probably be surprised to see what he has to offer up here in North Florida: tropical fruits usually grown in South Florida. “I’m an egoist, Eric said. “I think it’s a hoot to have things that other people don’t have. And it adds variety to what’s available at market, makes it a one stop shop.”
On his small farm southwest of Newberry, Boondox Tropicals specializes in tropical ornamental plants, which Eric uses in landscape work and also brings to market for gardeners to take home. Many of the flowering tropical plants available freeze down when it gets cold but come back in spring.
Eric grows some edible crops outdoors, like hot peppers and eggplant, but keeps his cold-sensitive fruit trees inside seven greenhouses to protect them from winter frosts, which would kill them. The fruits include pineapples, starfruit, passion fruit, papaya, and bananas. Why not just grow crops that are more suited to Gainesville’s climate? “Everybody should always do something you can’t or shouldn’t do,” Eric said.