Levi Ellenby (LNB)
Where do you live?
I live in the Redland on our farm, LNB Groves, with my girlfriend Sara, my three dogs, Buddy, Irie and India, and our cat Miet.
How long have you lived there?
I was born on the farm. I lived here until I was about five years old and then we moved to Palmetto Bay. I moved back down to the farm almost seven years ago.
What was it like having parents who are farmers?
I’m very grateful for my parents who taught me how to plant seeds when I was a baby. It was just a part of everyday life. Having a baby seed in your hand, whether it’s a fruit tree or a vegetable seed and learning about the power within and potential in consciousness inside the tiniest little seed was something that we always had ingrained in our heads. That tiny little seed can become a giant rain forest tree or a vegetable that’s going to nourish you. My parents have instilled a consciousness for all beings, especially plants and seeds and trees and veggies.
What keeps you busy during the week?
My day to day stuff is farm work. I am doing a variety of things around the farm. I’m out picking with the guys, planting, pruning, harvesting, packing and fertilizing. We work on the worms, the irrigation, fixing parts and tractors and do the daily things like mowing and weeding.
What is your favorite part?
My favorite part of working on the farm is being able to work outside in our beautiful South Florida weather. I get to be among the trees. I can harvest fresh fruit or ginger or turmeric and greens from the garden for a real lively food dinner. I get to work and see my dad every day who teaches me new things about life and the business. I’m very grateful for him. I get to see Adena when she’s on the farm and I get to work with my family. The market keeps us together.
And, another favorite part about working on the farm is being able to work from home. I don’t have to commute anywhere. I can walk outside and start doing little things around the farm or on our neighboring farms.Our properties are within a couple miles of each other.
What is the biggest challenge on the farm?
Environmental challenges. Pest and insects are always a struggle to control on organic farms because we can only use organic products. During the seasons, hurricanes and freezes are also a challenge.
You mentioned ‘working on the worms’ what does that mean?
We have a worm composting barn. It was an old fruit packing barn that we’ve converted into a compost and a vermiculture worm system. We make sure the worms have enough food and fresh bedding and we keep their bins at a certain moisture and Ph level. Their favorite thing to eat is animal manure. We feed them all our extra fruit waste and things like mashed up avocado and jackfruit. They devour it. The end product is both the castings, which is their poop, and worm compost tea. We make the tea from the castings. It is an aerated liquid that we can use to strengthen our plants organically.
Can people easily have worms at home?
Yes. Anybody can have a home worm composting system in their backyard or in a covered area is even better. If you already compost at home, it’s going to speed up the process. Feed your worms food scraps, vegetable and fruit waste and even some soft leaf matter and cardboard. The worms will create a nutrient and microorganism dense fertilizer that you can use on your plants. You can order worms online by the pound and have them shipped to your door live. That’s enough to get started. There are vertical systems like can-o-worms or continuous feed systems available.
What’s the number one question people ask you when they find out you live on a farm?
What animals do you have? And then we’d tell them we only have dogs and that we grow fruit. Then people ask what type of fruits? And since we grow interesting fruits, people then want to know what the fruits are like.
Do you have a personal philosophy about farming?
I think it’s about being grateful that we have this beautiful place to provide us with food. Our goal is to have an end product that we’re proud to share with the world. Over the years, we’ve always offered high-quality fruit. It’s all about doing the extra work pruning and fertilizing. The love and care is in the product. So, I guess our philosophy is to care about the trees and you’ll be rewarded with good results.
What would you like to do more of on the farm?
I would love to be a guide for people to show them the farm and host workshops where we can teach people gardening and planting, fruit tree harvesting and pruning and things like that. I’d also love a fruit stand on the farm – then I would never have to leave. And, there’s a
lifetime of work for me to do on this home farm.
What crops do you see the farms growing more of?
I would like to like double and triple down on crops like turmeric and ginger that are more hurricane, pest and fungus resistant. They’re grow low to the ground and even if they get blown over you don’t lose your whole crop. Another thing I really see as a futuristic food is jack fruit because of all the things you can do with it both ripe and green.
What advice do you have for people with fruit trees on their property?
I would say the number one thing to do is prune your trees to keep them a manageable size. You don’t have to have a 70-foot mango tree in your backyard with mangoes that are at the very tippy top that you can’t pick. And when they hit the ground, they’re not good anymore. Cut them small and keep them your size. If anybody ever has any questions about growing a tree, they can ask me at the market on Sundays. I’ll be happy to answer any other questions.
Do you have a favorite fruit?
My favorite fruit is passion fruit. But, I have another favorite fruit which is pomelo. And, then I also love a good jack fruit. Passion fruit is my favorite because it makes all other fruit, in my opinion, taste even better. A strong memory from childhood is the smell and taste of passion fruit juice. We recently planted some special varieties of mangoes that I am looking forward to.
Outside of farming, what do you like to do?
If I’m not working the farm, I’m usually on the water free dive spearfishing or I’m drawing. I create logos and apparel designs for different companies in the fishing industry. I also make large art pieces.
Where can we find your, your work?
I direct people to Instagram @GuruSea
How did you get into spear fishing?
We are lucky to have farms in Belize that my dad, Marc, started when I was 12 years old. I started spearfishing with our local friends in Belize and I fell in love with it. My favorite thing about it is you learn something new every single time you go, whether you’re fishing or diving or just spending a day out on the water. It’s a great way to gain perspective. Miami gets tiny from where you are on the water. My favorite place to go diving is south out of Homestead and into the upper Keys.
What do you catch?
I target the yummy tasting scaly reef fish and occasionally we’ll go off shore for pelagics.
What’s your favorite way to cook your catch?
Fried or Ceviche. The perfect fried fish starts with selecting a high heat cooking oil. I usually use coconut, peanut or sesame oil. Cut your snapper, grouper, or hog fish into half-inch thick fingers. With a fat fish, you’ll need to cut the filets in half. Prepare three containers for dipping. Dedicate one hand to dipping the fish in the dry ingredients and the other hand for dipping in the wet. First, dip into a seasoned flour to dry off the fish. Then dip into a mixture of egg and milk or coconut milk. Finally, dip into a bowl of panko bread crumbs. Sometimes, I’ll add coconut flakes to the panko. Press the panko into all sides. Fry in oil until it turns a golden brown. Salt the pieces as soon as you take them out of the oil.
How often do you come to the market?
I come to the Pinecrest market every Sunday to help you guys. I actually started the market with Adena back in the day. It was just Adena and me. We had one table – Adena would make the smoothies and I would do everything else. I remember, I would never show up on time, so she would always be there by herself starting and I would always show up late because I was driving from the farm.
What’s your favorite part of being at the market?
My favorite thing is giving people their first taste of new fruits. I’ve given thousands of people their first taste of jack fruit or their first taste of mamey or turmeric. Or maybe someone who hates avocados and guacamole, but I convince them to try our guacamole and they end up loving it. I love seeing their reaction and knowing that I expanded their horizons for tropical fruit and fruit in general. Often, it is something they never expected and some of these fruits are so rare they may never get another chance to try them. It’s so cool sharing that experience.
Do you have a favorite smoothie?
My favorite smoothies are the Sunrise, TropiKale and Flower Power. Throughout the day, I’ll have a combination of those three as a rainbow or by themselves.
What have you found after drinking the turmeric regularly?
I drink a bottle of turmeric concentrate each week and will eat fresh turmeric when we have it in season. I drink the concentrate every day as a shot or mixed with a little water. It feels energizing, like real brain food. I feel a lift every time I drink it. It’s my ‘redbull’.
What products do you like from other stands at the market?
Sydney always makes beautiful arrangements of flowers for Sara (and he’s happy to trade for a smoothie). I love to get an orchid from Patty. Her orchids last a long time in our farmhouse. Landon at Live Pawsitively has great dog treats. And Howie (aka Flap the Pickle Man) for his sweet and spicy pickles and fresh mozzarella.
What do you think the market is missing?
I think the market is missing farmers. It is supposed to be a farmer’s market after all.
Where do you like to go out for food or restaurants?
In Homestead, we like Puerto Vallarta. I usually either get the shrimp enchiladas, fish tacos or the seafood burrito. In South Miami, we love LAN Pan Asian.
What do you go for a special occasion?
Macchialina. They have great homemade pasta. And, on Thursdays, they have $10 pasta specials.
What is a worthy splurge to you?
A trip to Belize to go spearfishing and diving or a vacation with Sara where we can get away for a night or two.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
On the ocean, it’s the boat wrecks in the bay and large county wrecks further out. They are filled with fish and most people don’t get to ever see them. Check out some of the lists online. You will need to know the coordinates to get there.
In Agriculture, the best secret are the people you meet in homestead. There are these guys who spend most of their lives on their farms and don’t really have a public presence. They are talented growers who specialize in niche markets. I have gotten to meet them through my dad.
How can readers be in touch with you?
You can find me almost every Sunday at the market. Or through instagram: @Gurusea