Nursery's specialty: Exotic but edible plants

- What started out as a hobby has turned into a thriving homegrown business for Jared Craig. "I got into collecting the rare plants, the fruits," he explained.

Craig's Sow Exotic Nursery in Winter Haven has unusual edible plants from around the world. "It was hard to find them all in one place, so I decided to put together a nursery to offer these plants to anyone who wants to do the same thing.” 

Two hundred are currently under cultivation, but his hunt continues. His vision is to offer 500 or more. "Some of it was a struggle. I'd look for four or five years before I could get the seeds."

Brittany Bandi, Craig's business partner and girlfriend, says customers connect to a plant's cultural background. "If it was something their mother used to cook them or something they used to eat a lot, people are really attracted to the flavors from home and something that evokes a nostalgic feeling," Bandi offered. 

Katuk is one of those plants. From Southeast Asia, the whole plant is edible and used in salad and stews. 

Many customers come looking for preventative and all-natural remedies to common ailments. 

"I think there is definitely a shift in medicine right now to more natural, holistic medicine," Bandi said.

Their most popular plant is the hibiscus, or Florida cranberry. When used in a drink, it can lower blood pressure and its fruit is loaded with antioxidants. They also offer the ‘Toothache Plant.’ It makes your mouth go numb and tingle, helping with pain. 

"We want it to be easy to grow your own food and do things that are healthy for you. Life is so hard; this should be easy!" added Bandi.

The couple is open to visitors at their nursery by appointment only, but most of their business is online. Soon, they also hope to launch a mobile nursery bus to travel around the Tampa Bay area. 

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