Today, we return to our Local Tastemakers feature, our monthly column where we feature local members of community who we want to tell the world about. This month, we head to Miami and visit Mr. Green Dean of Mr. Green Dean’s Vegetable Garden. Although we’ve known Mr Green Dean since 2007 when he was just starting out, we reconnected with him recently at Slow Food Miami’s Freshest Night Out. It was there, that he wowed us (and the judges) with his freshly made Sorrel Soup (see the recipe) — and took home the judges’ award for best bite of the night.
Name: Mr. Green Dean
Farm: Green Dean’s Vegetable Farm
What’s your background:
I started off with a nursery. When the recession hit, I had to diversify because plants weren’t selling. I turned to vegetables – exotic, edible vegetables. These weren’t your normal vegetables. I was growing purple carrots and candy striped beets. People thought I was crazy.
In the first year, my products became quite popular with both Michael’s Genuine and Essensia, but when I had five of something, they’d want twenty. The supply wasn’t there, so instead we started bringing the vegetables to the Coral Gables farmer’s market, and would be like, “Try this.”
When did you start the vegetable farm?
What do you consider to be exotic?
I specialize in things that others can’t grow and teach the public how to eat it. French sorrel is one of my favorites. I also try growing 2-3 new things every year. I was originally told that growing season was from October until May and that in my off time, I should go fishing. That didn’t happen. Instead, I focused on finding tropical greens from the Caribbean and now grow leafy green varieties in the summer months such as Vietnamese spinach, Egyptian spinach, tropical endive, sorrel and tropical lettuce.
How do we find your product?
You can go online, call or text. Product can be picked up at the farm or house by the Falls, or at a drop-off point in Brickell.
What’s in your garden right now?
The garden’s transitioning right now. Our harvest list includes French sorrel, Vietnamese spinach, anise and four other kinds of D’avignon radishes.
What are you most excited about this season?
Vietnamese spinach (longevity spinach); Okinawa and Guyana spinach grow year round and offer tremendous medicinal value — lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, help with diabetes caused by bad diet; and Catnip, known to be a sleep agent.
What do you love about your job?
It’s fun teaching people to live to eat instead of eating to live.
Tell us about your last meal:
Sorrel Soup, salmon with some sorrel pesto, velour beans & Mr. Green Dean’s green bean salad
Outside of farming, how else do you spend your time?
Boating, working on the house, playing paintball
Why should we love Mr. Green Dean’s Vegetable Farm?
Because i don’t grow normal stuff and people need to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. I grow things no one can identify, teach them to eat it and love it.
Photo Credit: Paola Mendez from Coral Gables Love