Coral Gables

Fairchild Garden celebrates Ramble festival’s 75th anniversary

Fruit sales were scattered around the Ramble selling both seasonal and non-seasonal fruits.
Fruit sales were scattered around the Ramble selling both seasonal and non-seasonal fruits. Miami Herald Staff

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden welcomed visitors from near and far last weekend for its annual Ramble & Fall Garden Festival.

This year’s three-day festival celebrated 75 years of tradition.

“For us it’s a time machine because Ramble really clocks our history, not only from a linear perspective but also from a cultural point of view,” said Nannette Zapata, chief operating officer of Fairchild. “It’s our annual birthday celebration, and it is important because we are able to showcase everything that the garden does.”

Through the years, the Ramble & Fall Garden Festival has invited members of the community to visit Fairchild and participate in various family activities and sales. The festival brings vendors and volunteers together to showcase and sell products, many produced by the garden.

Within Fairchild’s 83 acres, the festival offers everything from book and antique sales, a variety of more than 15,000 plants for sale, a garden and artist marketplace offering handmade gifts, home goods and fresh foods, various selections of seasonal and nonseasonal fruits, a tea garden held in honor of Fairchild pioneer and Ramble organizer Nell Montgomery and a children’s learning activity center.

The funds collected from sales are invested into Fairchild’s daily operations and programming.

Fairchild Garden was founded in 1936. The first Ramble was held in 1941 at Montgomery’s home near the garden, which her husband Colonel Robert opened to the public in 1938. It was done to raise funds to buy a truck for Fairchild.

Admission fee was $1.50 to participate in a fruit auction and a free seed giveaway. Those wanting to ride a Galapagos tortoise had to pay extra.

As the garden and its signature festival have evolved through the years, the number of activities has increased.

One of the newer centers for Ramble visitors is the Science Village, where scientists and students do their research for activities regarding the Fairchild Challenge — done with thousands of students from numerous schools in Dade and Broward counties, to encourage their further interest and interaction with nature.

“The things that change Ramble, have to do with the same things that change our every day lives: technology, creating awareness of our environment,” Zapata said. “We have many more programs at the garden.”

The number of volunteers has also increased. Fairchild currently has more than 700 active volunteers who each invest a minimum of four hours weekly, working on activities that benefit the garden and the Ramble.

Arlene Ferris, director of volunteer services, believes the volunteers provide the Ramble’s manpower.

“They are at admissions, selling food, raising funds for the garden at other booths, directing visitors and greeting them, so they are in large part the workforce that makes the festival possible,” Ferris said.

Zapata says that through Ramble’s 75 years of tradition and growth, the main objective has been to invite families and friends to visit and explore Fairchild.

“Come experience what we are doing: spend the day, visit this weekend and fall in love with Fairchild all over again.”

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If you go

▪ What: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

▪ Where: 10901 Old Cutler Road

▪ Call: 305-667-1651

▪ Visit: