It’s all about Phil Marraccini

Phil posing in front of the Red Barn. (Courtesy of Phil's Berry Farm)

It’s not just a farm. It’s a fruit stand, a party venue, and a fish farm.

All are part of Phil Marraccini’s life.  

Marraccini owns a 10-acre farm that is the site of his most recent business, Phil’s Berry Farm. Every weekend he sells milkshakes, pastries and seasonal produce. Some weekends he even has live musical performances.

The farm is not just a berry stand, it’s also a fish farm that his family has owned and operated for over 70 years. And Marraccini rents out his barn for small weddings and other events.

There’s more to Marraccini than just his farm. He is a writer who has published over 200 articles in the South Dade News Leader. And he has written several original stories and poems.

“I keep coming up with things,” said Marraccini about his many projects and passions. “I try to budget my time and go from one thing to another.”

Phil Marraccini (right), his father (left), and his young son (center). (Courtesy of Marraccini family)

Marraccini’s father, Philip Marraccini Sr. started the fish farm in the 1950s. Senior would selectively breed fish to achieve a certain color or appearance. At one point they developed two new strains of molly fish that they called the gold dust and 24K gold molly.

The fish farm remained open until 2011 when Marraccini leased it out and opened Phil’s Berry Farm.

His purpose for opening the berry farm is to give people a place to relax and enjoy themselves. He does this by providing ample seating, toys for children and live music, all without charging any sort of entrance fee.

Eddy Roman, a friend and longtime customer, said that there is definitely more to Phil’s Berry Farm than just milkshakes and monkey bread.

“He comes out and greets you. He spends some time with you,” Roman said. “You go in there for one thing, you wind up staying for so many things.”

Two years ago, Marraccini reclaimed the fish farm and opened it to the public.

The fish farm has dozens of open tanks filled with different species of ornamental fish. Marraccini offers tours to visitors where he teaches them about the fish and gives them food so they can feed the fish throughout their tour.

Oh Mulberry Tree, Our Mulberry Tree, an original poem by Philip Marraccini. (Maria Ubeda/SFMN)

Along with the articles he’s written for the newspaper, Marraccini has also written a handful of original stories and produced two short films and a stage play.

In 2021 at the Seminole Theater, two of his original works were performed on stage as part of a collection of seven local writers. The show was put together by What If Works, a nonprofit organization.

“You know, he’s really a real person and when he’s up there, he is totally unpretentious,” said FIU theater professor Philip Church, founder of What if Works. “His writing is like he is in life, you know, he’s an incredibly generous person.”

Moving forward, Marraccini said he’s debating whether he wants to keep the berry farm open. There is a lot of work involved and he says that he’s not making as much money from it compared to renting out his barn for events which he says is more successful.

A big reason Marraccini keeps the farm open is his love and support for the community.

Overall, Marraccini says he has been able to do a lot in his life. He credits this to the support he’s received from his family and the freedom of being self-employed.

“My big dream is to be able to go to a movie and watch it being in a movie and it says original story by, and have my name up there,” said Marraccini. “That’s the last thing on my bucket list.”

Maria Ubeda is currently an undergraduate student at Florida International University and is studying to get her bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She hopes to one day work in the news industry as a journalist and writes stories that make an impact on the lives of the readers.