Nov. 23 2015 04:55 PM

It’s worth breathing in the air at The Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery

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Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery tasting table
Photo by Jessica Johnson

While wandering through the Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery in Vista, one could easily imagine being someplace besides Vista. Hawaii, for instance. Or, some other lush tropical paradise where you might expect to be surrounded by rare and delicious fruits.

As it turns out, owner Steve Spangler started his concept in Hawaii by collecting a variety of exotic seeds. Those seeds were ultimately planted on this four-acre farm in North County.

If you're a plant lover and have a special spot in your heart for exotic fruits, like I do, this place is heaven on earth. Spangler planted the first trees on the site more than 30 years ago, working side by side with his mother, Jeanette. They took advantage of a local climate that allows a variety of fruit trees to thrive. Today the site supports more than 1,000 distinct varieties of fruit.

During a visit to the nursery you'll find fruits native to places such as Mexico, Hawaii, Guatemala, Ecuador, Fiji and Burma, among others. Of the 1,000 varieties of fruit trees here, 200 are varieties of pomegranate. There are also 20 different guava trees, 10 varieties of bananas, seven different passion fruits, and on and on. Like to try new things? There's a fruit-tasting table where you can sample all the fruits that are in season.

During my visit to the nursery I asked Spangler what advice he would give the world, given that he appears to be so in tune with the universe. I loved his response.

"How much love and devotion we put into any artistic activity, whether you are a poet, musician, mother...will determine how we form our community and nature around us," he said.

Spangler believes that sharing one's home with even one plant benefits the household. "Plants breathe our breath and we breathe their breath," he says. "That is why they are so healing."

Exotica Fruit Farm · 2508 E Vista Way # B · Vista, CA 92084

To see more off-the-beaten path places in San Diego, go to hiddensandiego.net.

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