I can’t believe that it took me 8 years in Belize to visit Miss Emma’s Garden and Restaurant. This tiny lady and her farm are a national treasure.
It may seem a bit off the beaten path but it’s easy to find. At about Mile 16 on the Southern Highway, just about 15 minutes past the Hopkins junction, turn in at the Sanctuary Belize sign. A mile or two down a wide dirt road, you’ll cross a little wooden bridge. Take the first right and head up to the guard booth…you’ll have to sign in and dip the bottom of your feet in bleach.
To keep pests out of the area and the shrimp farm beyond Miss Emma’s.
We had met Emma briefly at the Hopkin’s Mango Festival the day before and after chatting with her and seeing her gorgeous selection of mangoes, we knew we wanted to stop by.
Everything we gasped over – everything – she offered to give to us. Or save us a seed…or give us a cutting. “Those aren’t ready yet but I’ll save you some seeds for when you are here next”.
Here is some of what I saw at Miss Emma’s.
Her restaurant is filled with memorabilia with photos of her with Prime Minister Dean Barrow and George Price…
and Maya artifacts found around the farm.
We sat down with Miss Emma and she told us some of her story, her time in the Phillipines, her diagnosis with cancer 12 years ago and how she fought it (it disappeared in a month!) with mangosteen juice and clean eating, training as a chef and then cultivating this AMAZING acreage. Here are some of the pictures.
We were pretty surprised when Miss Emma herself took us on the tour and asked a few times “are you okay walking?” as she forged ahead through the orchards.
Gorgeous hibiscus flowers in all colors and shapes.
All sorts of beautifully flowering ginger. Like this, Honeycomb Ginger.
She sent us home with a huge pink ginger plant. Gorgeous.
And the bird of paradise.
She has an orchid garden…and a few of this BIZARRE plant called “Little Girls’ Boobs” – note: Do not try to Google that name. You will most certainly end up on some list.
Tiny light gourds….she gave us some to plant with the seeds.
Here…take a few Miss Emma said as she loaded up my bag.
She brought us over to her giant “signature tree” and we signed…
74 year old Miss Emma, maximum height 4 foot 11, turned to us…are you okay walking? Yes Miss Emma. We were ready to follow her where ever she was going. And she took us out to the fruit orchards. And 400 gorgeous mango trees.
And the largest tree borne fruit in the world – the jackfruit. Grows up to 80lbs.
Such an odd fruit! I’m not sure how they even stay on this tree. Miss Emma bust one open for us to try…pulp wrapped around hundreds of seeds. Almost like a blend of banana and pineapple.
A new fruit for me…the beautiful velvet apple.
A hairy persimmon.
She grows cacao, citrus (even a California lemon tree!), papaya, soursop and countless more fruits.
Miss Emma offered to make us lunch, she offered us mangoes and we filled two sacks. In about 2 weeks? This farm is going to be a mango festival in itself. I might call her to ask if I can camp in the mango orchard.
What an amazing woman. Miss Emma’s garden is available for touring and she cooks (American, Belizean, Asian) lunches if you set up an appointment in advance. Her number is: 669-2524.
She is halfway between Hopkins and Placencia and I can’t wait to go visit her again. I hope to add Gardener…or Miss Emma’s Apprentice (or at the very least “Plant Enthusiast”) to my resume.