There is something about farmer’s markets and roadside farm stands that remind me of my grandpa. Cherry colored tomatoes conjure images of my Grandpa Huke shuffling down the rows of his perfectly manicured garden in our backyard. Piles of green beans remind me of the time he thought it would be a good idea to sprinkle dog hair around the plants to keep away the rabbits. I’m not quite sure if the rabbits actually kept their distance, but I know my family kept its distance from hairy green beans that summer. Rows of sweet corn rouse my memories as I search for that ear of corn that will taste like the fresh picked sweetness of my youth. So when I walked into Robert is Here, I was transported back in time.
After a hot bike ride through Shark Valley, the frequent fresh milkshake signs on the highway piqued my interest. With tropical and traditional fruits, each sign vouched to be the best one around. If you know me, I’m a planner, so before we journeyed into the Everglades I had already researched one particular farm stand that promised to be well worth a milkshake stop.
When we approached, the parked cars that lined both sides of the street confirmed that this place must be great. I entered the store and instantly pictured my grandpa selling his crops at the flea market each weekend.
While our main purpose was milkshakes, this place has a little bit of everything, from fresh veggies and fruits to seashells and a splash pad. Jars of jams, jellies, dressings, honey, and marinades line the walls. Below them are bags of jerky–gator or beef. Behind the store stood an eclectic mix of tortoises, donkeys, ducks, goats, and emus. Not to mention a pig and a pair of parrots. It was quite the motley crew, but they provided some entertainment as I waited for our milkshakes to be made.
35 minutes later it was taste-test time. Strawberry-key lime for me and strawberry-passion fruit for Geoff. Both were given an enthusiastic thumbs up. In fact, they were so delicious that we made a stop on our return home for round two: mango and strawberry banana this time.
Robert’s story is an endearing one, starting his business selling cucumbers as a six-year-old and buying his first ten acres of land at age fourteen. You can read the rest of his story here, as he tells it better than I can. Yes, the milkshakes were delectable, but the long forgotten memories Robert’s store inspired were something that I appreciated even more. And yes, I did take a few ears of corn to sample. While tasty, my search continues.