Almost exactly three years ago, two longtime friends formed a partnership to open a nursery to produce superfoods on the panhandle. Brandon Duncan and Roger Roberts were initially interested only in acai berries, found on the lush acai palms in the rainforest regions of Brazil, but later expanded their ambitious business plan to include tiny goji berries, a superplant that produces berries only twice a year.
Also called wolfberries and native to China, goji berries combine the best taste elements of carrots, tomatoes and bell peppers to explode in your mouth. China cultivates over 200,000 acres within its borders for this prized crop. Cultivated along the fertile flood plains of the Yellow River, gojis are often called ‘red diamonds’ by natives of this fertile region. Gojis are rarely offered fresh in the United States and most often found powdered, dried and frozen in health food stores and as an ingredient in teas, salads, wines and soups. The powerful superfood resembles red raisins when dried. Less than 1000 acres are currently cultivated in the US and the panhandle is very lucky to have Roger’s Berries at Panama City Beach offering this remarkable find.
“After 3 long years, 7 days a week, this ‘backyard’ nursery looks completely different,” said Sabra Roberts, wife to co-founder Roger Roberts. “It is starting to look like a greenhouse! It is rough, and not by any means fancy, but it is sturdy and thriving.” Sabra Roberts explained that her husband, Roger, gave up a steady paycheck as a logger to pursue their dream of growing fresh superfoods and that it was a huge gamble for their family. “He is the first nurseryman in Florida to offer these rare berries and I am so proud!”
Health practitioners rave on the many health-promoting nutrients found in the gojis such as carotenoids and Vitamin C. Goji boast eighteen kinds of amino acids and are rich in polysaccharides known as ‘master molecules’ that work together to support the human immune system and fight free radicals. Goji berries contain more Vitamin C than oranges, more beta carotene than carrots and more protein than steak.
Roger’s Berries and Produce is located at 2100 Allison Avenue, between Front Beach Rd and Laird St on Panama City Beach. They stock many varieties of herbs and sell to restaurants and the general public. The also grow other exotics including hot ghost peppers, black peppers and dragon fruit. Highly sought after papaya trees, dwarf bananas, and dwarf pomegranates are in stock throughout the year. The Acai palms on their property are lush and beautiful and are expected to produce acai berries within two years.
Contact Roger’s Berries on facebook at RogersBerriesProduceInc, at 850.866.7951 and at Grand Lagoon Waterfront Farmers Market most weekends.