It has been commonly reported by scholars and experts that there are both mental and physical benefits for people who enjoy a hobby outside of their primary professional roles. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, a group of researchers identified dozens of successful CEOs at Fortune 500 companies who said that their professional performance is enhanced by “serious leisure interests” that help them cope with the stress and demands of their jobs.
For Dr. Jose R. Rafols, an occupational therapist, a U.S. Army veteran, and Occupational Therapy Program Director at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in Miami, sub-tropical fruit farming has become a leisure passion that literally produces fruit from this labor of love.
Jose R. Rafols, OTD, MHSA, OTR/L, is a licensed occupational therapist with more than 28 years of experience in clinical orthopedics and 22 years of experience in upper extremity rehabilitation and hand-injuries. Dr. Rafols has also worked in diabetic foot and wound care, neurological injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), burns, geriatrics, and adult rehabilitation. He is president and owner of Therapeutic Home-Bound Services Corporation (THS-Corp), which provides tailored and personalized private occupational therapy and rehabilitation services to the South Florida area.
Dr. Rafols is a seasoned and experienced instructor and is currently the Program Director of the OT Programs at the University of St. Augustine Florida-Miami Campus.
His favorite hobby is working on the 5.2-acre farm in Miami-Dade County, South Florida where he lives. The variety of fruit he grows includes: mangos, avocados, chirimoya, mamey, star-fruit, nispero, guanabana, tamarindo, pomegranate, papaya, guava, sour oranges, lemons and limes.
Dr. Rafols got started in sub-tropical fruit farming because he has always enjoyed being outdoors and working with his hands. He is fascinated by the tropical trees and how they yield fruit year-round in South Florida.
“Every day I walk out into this space to find tranquility, harmony, focus, and ultimately am humbled by what grows above and below my feet,” Dr. Rafols said.
Dr. Rafols enjoys working on a farm because it is an outlet where he can let go of his daily worries and “just concentrate on pruning branches, cutting the grass, mending fences, or planting young saplings.”
But, this hobby is not for the faint of heart.
“It is dirty, taxing, and at times overwhelming; however, it has been immensely rewarding,” Dr. Rafols said.
A sub-tropical farm is not a seasonal farm. Dr. Rafols’s work is done just about daily and year-round. Some of this work includes pruning, fertilizing, planting, watering and harvesting. Not to mention cleaning up after mother nature’s storms, cold spells and flooding. It’s all worth it to Dr. Rafols because of the “wonderful bounty that awaits at the end of each growing season.”
Dr. Rafols said that this work is humbling for him. It reminds him to appreciate the simple outdoors and reflect the useful and noble calling of those working in agriculture. With more than 12 types of tropical and sub-tropical fruit currently growing on the farm, he has more than enough to keep him busy and doesn’t plan on adding more, simply because it’d be too much to keep up with.
“This environment is truly breath-taking and motivates one to hurry home to sit and watch the sun set or to sit outside in the terrace and attentively listen to the songs of the blue jays,” he said.
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