I’ve visited Blue Harbor several times since the Tropical Arboretum was begun some two years ago. This week, I took my visiting family for a tour which included both the hydroponic lettuce/herb farm and the Tropical Arboretum. I was amazed by the changes in the number and size of the plants, just in the past year.
Owner Kenn George has increased the size of the Blue Harbor property to some 170 acres, which includes a large enclosed Conservatory featuring a 23 foot high wall of orchids, with a waterfall and stream winding through lush tropical trees and plants, all identified with name signs.
Diane, a very knowledgeable young Roatan woman, first toured us through the two shaded hydroponic buildings explaining how the many varieties of lettuce grown for Roatan residents and visitors starts with a seed and in seven weeks progresses to its harvest and distribution to local grocery stores and restaurants. Before leaving this area, the water recycling process was demonstrated, and the recycling of all waste materials into compost was explained.
After a stop for a cold drink, horticulturist extraordinaire, Helen Murphy, took us on a tour of the Tropical Arboretum…first through the Conservatory, then to the pond stocked with tilapia, with a stop for feeding the ducks…all the time explaining the origin of the plants and the comparison between varieties, such as the key lime vs. the Persian lime. The walk through the orchard wound through the fruit trees with more commentary by Helen on the origins and fruits of the trees, plus tasty samples of the carambola (star fruit) and Malay apples.
My family was thrilled with the experience and I highly recommend this venue for Roatan visitors, as well as residents. The tour takes about an hour and the fee is $13, which seems very reasonable for an experience of this quality.