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Tour the World Without Leaving Vero Beach

Exotic spices including bay rum, cinnamon and curry are thriving at the Beachland School.

Exotic spices including bay rum, cinnamon and curry are thriving at the Beachland School.

Recently I experienced the sights and scents of plants from around the world. I smelled exotic perfumes, bay rum, cinnamon, curry and other spices as leaves were crushed in my hand. I saw a neem tree, a native of India and the source for the organic insecticide, neem oil. I stood under a sacred temple tree – the same species as the tree where Buddha found enlightenment. I saw a special sea grape plant with leaves twice as large as normal, the frangipani flowers from which Hawaiian leis are made, and dozens of native and exotic palm species.

My world tour took place right here in Vero Beach, at Beachland Elementary School on the barrier island. Lee Rathbun, of Native Habitat Farms and the Rare Fruit Council, led the tour. Natacha Gourgue, PTA president, Natalie Holtom Brown, PTA Garden Club chairman, and Carol Wilson, Beachland’s principal, also walked along with us. It was quite a tour. In addition to the exotic fruits and spices, there’s a serenity garden, an award-winning student vegetable garden, a teacher garden and a memorial garden.

Read the entire article in the February 2010 issue