Precious things come in small packages. Anyone that has tasted a lady finger banana knows this to be true. If you personally haven’t: imagine packing all the flavor of one regular-sized banana into a miniature one. This season you don’t have to imagine, and best of all this magic doesn’t have to be summoned forth from a far-away land. Nay! worthy of a flourish of trumpets, these rare fruits were brought to our humble garden hamlet of Audubon Park from a yonder urban farm near downtown Orlando by the none other than the noble Emerald Knight.
Peter Gianelli, an agricultural student from UF and the owner of Emerald Knight, greened his thumb by gardening from a young age, following plants from seed to fruit. Eventually propagating tropicals such as dragon fruit and calamondin – about as far north as they will grow – Peter has shown it’s nothing a little extra care can’t handle.
Currently in University of Florida’s Plant Production program, Peter grows everything naturally, curating edible plants and fruits that are unfamiliar to most consumers, but not for lack of deliciousness.
“I first realized I could sell the fruits that I grow in middle school when they would have fundraisers for charities,” Peter explains. “I would sell the fruits in front of my house, because none of the other kids in my class were doing anything I was interested in.”
Now an official entrepreneur Peter, continues to ride free from the pack, shining a light on the fruits that don’t always get proper exposure in the public eye. At this time of year, his booth is often chock full of starfruit or carambola, an extremely versatile sweet & tart tropical fruit great for smoothies, yogurt, baking into pastries or broiling alongside fish.
He still has some classics though. Coming this spring, he’ll have peaches, followed by avocados and mangos in the summer.
If you’re worried about the use of toxic chemicals, rest assured, Emerald Knight employs Integrated Pest Management to keep plants healthy. Peter keeps the unlikely buds going with a foundation of good worm castings, fortified by natural oil sprays to keep the bugs away.
You can ask him more about natural horticulture and join in on the passion for fringe fruits by purchasing seedlings at his booth every Monday. As Emerald Knight forges ahead, he hopes to turn the business into a mix between a nursery and a growing operation, spreading the joy of under-appreciated edible plants to more consumers in Orlando.
Join the wave of horticultural diversity in Orlando and plant these gems from Emerald Knight today!