Ira Smith is a native Floridian and grew up on Singer Island in the 1950’s when the ocean front was dunes, sea oats and sea grape and the lakeside was mangrove estuaries. As a child his hobbies were fishing, diving and collecting and trading mollusks (seashells) with his friends and acquaintances. When Ira was fifteen years old he bought his mother a grafted mango, Kent variety, and has been interested in tropical fruit trees ever since.
Ira did a stint in the Navy from 1962 to 1965, then went to Palm Beach Junior College and Florida Atlantic University. In 1974 began his own business designing and building upholstered furniture, mainly sofas and chairs, which he still owns and operates today.
Ira became a member of the Palm Beach Chapter of the Rare Fruit Council in 1987, served a term as president in 1992 and was on the board of directors for 7 years. Ira has lived in Martin County for 35 years and has grown many varieties of tropical fruit and vegetables with his wife, Paula. Their 3 young granddaughters regularly explore the 2 acre plot and devour any tropical fruit that is in season.
The vast diversity of tropical fruit trees and plants in this world have been a curiosity and a source of pleasure for Ira for decades, and he is still learning about them and sharing his researched and hands-on knowledge of what can be grown and fruited in Florida’s unique climate.