Tiny Miss Emma And Her Organic Farm : Both are Belize National Treasures

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.

IMG_1044Little did we know that we could have EASILY spent the entire day there.

Miss Emma is a 74 year old Filippino woman with more energy than most young adults.  She came to Belize in 1992 as the chef for the Taiwanese Ambassador and has been here ever since.  Her gardens and orchards are beyond stunning and she may just be the most generous woman that I’ve ever met.


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.

IMG_1100 IMG_1102


All sorts of beautifully flowering ginger.  Like this, Honeycomb Ginger.


She sent us home with a huge pink ginger plant.  Gorgeous.

IMG_1148Here it is riding the water taxi back to San Pedro.


Amazing heliconia.


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.

I’d love to know the name of this plants but risk getting in trouble with INTERPOL.  Anyone?

IMG_1128She brought us to her “Chanel No 5” tree…a fragrant Ylang Ylang tree.  These flowers smell like heaven.  We took some seeds.

IMG_1129I’d never seen a starfruit tree – little purple and red cluster flowers and big gorgeous fruit.


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…

IMG_1116 IMG_1117

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.

IMG_1136Emma offered us one for the ride home…but I pictured carrying this 40lb fruit like a baby and politely declined.


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.

Hotels like Beaches and Dreams in Hopkins and Turtle Inn in Placencia offer visits to her spot.

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.






  • marysaunders

    I have visited Miss Emma’s gardens. They are utterly amazing. Anybody who is a fruit nut should visit. Also, Miss Emma is a repository of Belize history you are unlikely to find elsewhere. There really should be a book, with movie to follow.

    • Belize Blog

      Ha. I agree. A book for sure! I already have three candidates for my women of Belize – I bet I could find lots more. But a BOOK! It seems so daunting!

      • marysaunders

        I bet there are a bunch of people in Placencia who could help with a book about Miss Emma. I took the tour from Turtle Inn. They could sell the book in their shop. They already had books and potions from Rosita Arvigo when I was there a few years ago.

  • Leonardo Ramilo

    The hairy persimmon is a mabolo fruit. it is very rare even the Philippines. Let’s go pastor Art!

    • Belize Blog

      I’m willing to bet that it’s the only one in Belize. Beautiful fruit!

  • Deutsche Mark Niepes

    To: Lola Emma..
    We are proud of you!!! #LabanPilipinas #Puso

    From: Deutsche Mark & Vines, Filipino Nurses in Dangriga, Belize

  • Sara Fredericks

    Can someone please tell me how many minutes and miles drive it is to Miss Emma’s place from Hopkins and Maya Center?

    I’d like to arrange a lunch down there with some guests to visit this amazing lady and her orchards.

    Are there lots of birds there? I would imagine there must be with all that fruit.