They come from around the world on a quest to find the best cinnamon rolls.
Judging by the long lines, many will argue the sweet and sticky treats are found right here, every November through April, at Knaus Berry Farm in the Redland on Southwest 248th Street east of 162nd Avenue. The popular roadside fruit stand and U-Pick-Em field was co-founded in 1959 by Ray Knaus.
Knaus, patriarch of the family business, died at 85 on Aug. 28 at his Redland home. A member of the Old German Baptist Brethren, Knaus, following teachings that are similar to the Amish, shunned photographs and anything that smacks of pride.
But he left South Florida a lasting legacy. The cinnamon rolls — along with the Dilly, Honey Wheat and Mountaineer breads, the Black Bottom cake and pecan pies — might not even figure on the sales counter were it not for the Knaus’ open minds more than half a century ago.
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“When we first started farming, we had a man who sold our berries for us, and he told me if I made cookies and bread they would sell,” said his wife, Barbara Knaus, in a 2000 Miami Herald story.
Knaus Berry Farm, also renowned for its milkshakes, jams, vegetables and fresh strawberries and tomatoes, traces its origin to Knaus’ father Jess and uncle Harley who moved from Missouri to Miami in 1924, lured by construction work during Miami’s boom years. The 1926 hurricane sent the Knaus brothers back to their farming roots and they grew vegetables on an 80-acre farm in Homestead.
Ray Knaus was born in Miami on Dec. 12, 1929, and, at 5, moved with his family to a two-story home near Knaus Berry Farm’s current location. There, he grew up and learned about farming.
In 1959, along with his wife and late brother Russell, he opened Knaus Berry Farm as a small strawberry stand. Barbara baked the cookies.
Business thrived. As people discovered the farm and the simple, friendly family over the years, Knaus oversaw crops including strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, spinach, cucumbers, onions, zucchini squash, and herbs like cilantro, rosemary, basil and mint.
The couple’s daughters, Rachel Grafe and Susan Blocker, and their husbands Herb and Thomas, respectively, now oversee the operations. Knaus and his wife had split their time living in the Redland and Cleveland.
In addition to his wife and daughters, Knaus is survived by his sons Matthew and Mark Knaus, his brother Donald and sisters Vera Brubaker and Mary Mero, and nine grandchildren. Services were held in Cleveland.
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