This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Between Cards Point and Gape Sable, at the southern portion of the peninsula, there exists a section containing about 400,000 acres of land, on which we are satisfied coffee could be produced to advantage. In 1821, according to Vignoles, a company was formed in Philadelphia for the purpose of cultivating coffee in the southern portion of the peninsula. After a careful examination a very favorable report was submitted. Congress was applied to, and refused to grant to the company the privilege of purchasing a sufficient quantity of land considered eligible for the purpose, and the project was abandoned. In this instance, the government acted unwisely, for the company would have tested the productive capabilities of the region, and have furnished a nucleus around which a settlement would have been established. A desirable locality for coffee culture can be found in the neighborhood of Cape Sable, about twenty-five degrees thirty minutes north latitude, and northerly of Key West sixty or seventy miles.
A large portion of the section is open prairie, and known as the "Yamasee old field." According to Vignoles, who carefully examined the region, the land at Cape Sable, and for some miles easterly, is very good, consisting of a rich grey soil, thickly mixed with broken shells, presenting an even surface without a bush. Beyond this natural prairie rise hummocks of the usual width, and beyond these a boundless savannah, the soil of which is richly alluvial, and perfectly dry for a long distance, mingling, at length, with the everglades. At this locality, from all we have been able to glean, there is a large area of excellent land merely waiting for settlement to make it a tropical paradise. At this point, all the productions of the tropics, including the bread fruit, and cocoanut, can be produced in perfection. The health of the region is excellent; the range of the thermometer all that can be desired, seldom falling below fifty degrees in winter, and only occasionally rising above ninety degrees in summer. During the summer months, rains are of frequent occurrence, producing a luxuriant growth of vegetation.
A daily sea breeze occurs, which cools the atmosphere and invigorates the residents.
Many suppose that the coffee requires a high range of the thermometer to insure its successful culture; but we are inclined to question the correctness of this opinion, for on the island of Bermuda, in north latitude thirty-two degrees twenty-four minutes, we found the coffee growing wild, and in great perfection, near the Walsingham caves. As an illustration of the importance of cultivating this product, I need but refer to the fact, that in the year 1872 we imported 298,805,-946 pounds, costing at points of purchase $37,942,225.
We see by the Country Gentleman, the Ohio Field Notes and other papers, that the coffee plant alluded to in a previous number, has been identified. Seeds were sent to Dr. Warder, of Cincinnati, who found it to be nothing else than the Chick Pea, which turns up every ten years or less as a wonderful new thing. We think the Dr. has nipped it in the bud this time. The query of our Nauvoo correspondent was made and answered about three months ago, and given to the printer before Dr. Warder's article was seen by us, or we should have referred to it. That the plant was not the coffee plant was plain enough though we could not then say what it was, not suspecting it was our old friend the Chick Pea, some of whose singular adventures we chronicled about twelve years ago.