It was warm and slightly overcast, making for a comfortable day to explore and tour. We were extended an invite to the Kumquat Growers Citrus Farm and Benedetto’s owner Ben Pumo’s adjacent farm and hydroponic garden, located at 31647 Gude Rd. in Dade City, FL. As is always the case, we never pass it up. Supporting our local businesses and causes is always priority one.
In an area surrounded by lush forests, cow pastures, and farms, the setting couldn’t have been better. We arrived in time for the tour of both locations, complete with a tour tram that comfortably transported the visitors to the kumquat packing house and gift shop, the kumquat groves, then to the birthplace of fresh vegetables that Chef Ben Pumo proudly serves at his restaurant in Land ‘O Lakes.
Greg Gude, whose family has been growing on this land for generations, led the tour of the kumquat portion of the visit. He explained the history and uses of kumquats, and even demonstrated how to enjoy the fruit in its raw form. There were samples of kumquat pie and other edibles that were simply delicious, and pleased the crowd. To explore more about the Kumquat Growers and rich history, visit their website here.
After our visit to the kumquat farm, the tram headed to Ben Pumo’s farm and garden. This is the pride of Benedetto’s Ristorante Italiano, located at 21529 Village Lakes Sopping Center Dr., in Land ‘O Lakes, FL. Vegetables served in his restaurant are grown right here, with no chemicals or pesticides. While the cost is a little more than purchasing from suppliers, it’s obvious that there is a motive: Quality.
Ben led the group to his garden, where it was his turn to explain exactly what he does there and the type of vegetables grown. He explained the hydroponic process, as well as dishes he uses his vegetables in. If you’ve eaten at his restaurant, it all makes complete sense. Food is second to none in quality, taste, and presentation.
This group gathering was especially important to Ben, because his guests are also friends of his. He partners with them in the annual Gasperilla Parade. Called the Spirit of Cigar City Krewe, the collective members of the group have their own float in the parade. But, they do have a vision. According to their group site on Facebook, they are a “group of business men and women from different walks of life and from different locations, but with one belief. That belief is to promote the history of Tampa, Ybor City, and their diverse heritages by supporting charities and fostering civic pride.
To learn more about the Spirit of Cigar City Krewe, go to their website here.
As a friendly gesture to his friends and visitors, Ben put together quite the outdoor dining set. Friends of the group brought dishes to compliment each other. The sun was going down, and folks were ready to relax to a tasty meal near the fire. The only sounds to be heard in this quiet country location was the laughter and chatter. The food was impeccable, and at the end of the evening, guests were happy to have spent their day at the grove and farm.
Both locations are highly recommended for a leisure day out for the entire family. And Benedetto’s Ristorante Italiano? Any occasion will do!