Every local knows that the best buns in Miami won’t be found lounging on the sands of South Beach. They’re much further, on a small family-owned Homestead farm that’s only open seasonally. And they aren’t decked in suntan oil or a neon bikini. They come fresh out of the oven and glisten with a cinnamon glaze that leave your taste buds watering. If you’ve never heard of the hype around Knaus Berry Farm, we’re here to educate you. And if you still go on to graduate without trying them, you might as well tuck away that diploma.
It’s noon on a grey, wet November Tuesday in Homestead, Florida. You would imagine most people are in the middle of a work day or staying inside to avoid the drizzle. But Knaus Berry Farm’s lot is overflowing into the street with cars, and an hour-long line of customers reaches the neighboring property.
To first-time visitors, it might be shocking. But this is just another day for the bakery farm shop— light, actually, compared to a weekend. And their customers have come to expect it, too. All of this for what, you may be wondering?
They’re served fresh out of the oven and warm to the touch. Their smell wafts from the building into the parking lot, enticing customers tempted to leave the line to hold on just a little longer. Each customer usually walks out with a stack of two dozen, at least. And when you finally get to bite into your own, it’s an ooey gooey explosion of cinnamon sugar.
Alex Rodriguez, who was standing in line with two co-workers on Nov. 2, said he was planning to buy five boxes.
“I don’t know why they are so good. It’s like the glaze is different,” he said. “I can’t explain it.”
Knaus Berry Farm has quite literally become famous for them. Rachel Grafe, whose father founded the farm, now runs it with her sister Susan and their husbands. She said social media has been responsible for the hype.
Since joining Facebook in about 2010, Grafe said, the lines have grown longer and longer. Today, their Instagram has over 60,000 followers, and their Facebook page has over 56,000 likes—most of those fans rave about the sweet and sticky treats.
What makes Knaus Berry Farm an attraction, though, is the entire experience. After getting a treat from the bakery counter or walk-up milkshake window, visitors can head behind the main bakery building, grab a basket and pick their own fresh produce, in the rows of farm land.
Families looking for fun or even couples wanting a unique experience outdoors can hand-pick strawberries and tomatoes on-site to bring home.
Knaus Berry Farm has a long family history. After spending a childhood farming in Homestead and Missouri, Russell and Ray Knaus began selling strawberries from a road-side stand in 1956. A broker buying them tried some cookies baked by Ray’s wife, Barbara, and suggested they sell those, too.
From there, the idea of a bakery was born. That building opened in 1959, and still sits on the same property today. But their menu has since evolved to include much more, including breads, pies, coffee, ice cream and jellies—all made from the fresh produce on their fields.
Grafe said growing up on the farm with her sister and parents was low-key. But there was always work to be done. “My dad always included us kids, gave us small projects,” she said. “We would be responsible for certain vegetables, he taught us how to make money and that kind of thing.”
The farm is only open from around November through April each year. This season, they opened on Oct. 27, and the
first week was met with anxious customers. Thomas Blocher, bakery manager and husband to Susan, wouldn’t share just how many rolls they bake each day. But he did say that opening week was pretty typical: busy.
“Every fall there is always an anticipation of us opening. People are happy and we’re happy,” said Blocher, who arrives at the bakery each morning at 3 a.m. to plan the day’s schedule and get a head start on baking.
Grafe estimated that on the first Saturday of this season, the line was about five to six hours long.
“It was wrapped around the hedge, all the way across to the east and all the way south to the field,” she said.
Many customers report their treats are worth the wait.
“The best cinnamon rolls, shakes and ice cream, bakery and produce from around the world! It is worth the long lines and you wait to delight the palate with so much sweetness and flavor,” wrote Jaime Romero on Knaus Berry Farm’s Facebook review page on Oct. 29, 2021. He said he drives 35 miles several times a year to buy their products.
But while waiting in line for treats is like a rite of passage at this place, it isn’t for everyone.
“Not recommended for the elderly or those like me or my wife who have to share a walker,” wrote Tom Moore to the same page on the same day. “The three-hour-and-10- minute wait to get inside, where there’s only two cashiers to ring up orders, isn’t my idea of a worthwhile wait.”
Still, customers come from near and far every year just to get a bite. One woman in line said she drove from Broward county, over an hour away. Blocher said that’s pretty typical.
“We’ve had people come from Fort Myers, Naples, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach. It’s not unusual to hear that,” he said. “But last year we had a young man come the day we opened from Sacramento, California.”
For fans of their food who might not be that ambitious, Knaus Berry Farm ships their products via an online delivery service called Goldbelly starting on Jan. 1 of each season.
Know Before You Go
Knaus Berry Farm is cash only, so make a trip to the ATM before heading there. There aren’t any nearby, and you surely won’t want to lose your spot in line!
Buy a milkshake before you get in line for the bakery so you can have a treat while you’re standing. The milkshake window line is usually short!
The best time to go to Knaus Berry Farm to get ahead of the long lines is on weekday mornings.
Knaus Berry Farm is open from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday during its season.
The produce picking program begins in January of each season. Call the farm for info and an official date.
Knaus Berry Farm
15980 SW 248th St. Homestead, FL 33031 (305) 247-0668 @knausberryfarm
words & photo_emmalyse brownstein. design_isa marquez.
This article was published in Distraction’s winter 2021 print issue.