Agritourism is diverse in Florida, from U-pick farms to wineries, crop mazes to dairy farms, and even farm weddings, according to Melissa hunt with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer services.
“This diversity allows tourists both from within Florida and beyond to participate in land-based activities,” hunt says. “These activities can take as little time as going to a farm stand and buying honey to spending an entire day selecting fresh produce, petting cute farm animals, getting lost in a maze, or taking a hayride to cut down a Christmas tree.”
Tasting Florida Fresh
Of course, Florida is known for citrus. Destinations like Mixon Fruit Farm allow visitors to learn about citrus and try locally grown fresh fruit or juice, as well as other products. Tours and tastings are increasingly popular at places like St. Augustine Distillery, located in the historic FP&L Ice Plant building in the historic city. First Magnitude Brewing Company in Gainesville is named for the most powerful freshwater springs, prevalent in that region. Visitors there can choose from 20 craft beers on tap. At Hutchinson Farm Winery in Apopka, Duke and Sherry Hutchinson welcome guests to an intimate setting.
“They enjoy their experience here because we’re small,” says Duke, who serves as the vineyard manager while Sherry makes the wine. “When people come, we take them out and walk them through the vineyard and show them the grapes.”
The tasting experience at Hutchinson Farm Winery includes five different wines, as well as a seasonal blueberry wine.
Tasting local honey is another way to enjoy Florida agriculture. Florida’s signature orange blossom honey features the citrus flavor of the orange groves found primarily in the southern part of the state. Lesser-known honey flavors include Tupelo honey from the Florida panhandle and Gallberry honey, also predominantly found in northern Florida. Saw Palmetto honey, found throughout the state, is the oldest-known Florida honey. And anywhere wildflowers grow, wildflower honey comes in a variety of shades from golden to dark amber.
While some farms are open year round, others are seasonal. Hunt says blueberry U-pick farms are popular, with the season lasting anywhere from six weeks to several months, depending on the varieties planted and the location. U-picks to check out include Southern Hill Farms in Clermont and Deer Park Peaches in St. Cloud. Long & Scott Farms near Mt. Dora grows produce that changes with the seasons. Autumn brings crop mazes and pumpkin patches.
“Guests to our farm love being able to unplug from all of the electronics and enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle,” says Kelly Mosley of Amazing Grace Crop Maze in Green Cove Springs. “We’ve even received thank-you notes from people telling us how much they appreciate us opening our farm to the public so their children and grandchildren could experience the simpler things in life.”
And though you’ll typically find corn mazes, the Amazing Grace Crop Maze is actually in a field of sorghum.
Florida offers some unique agriculture adventures not found anywhere else. Take the nursery and tropical garden at R.F. Orchids in Homestead, for example. Or see the fainting goats at Golden Acres Ranch in Monticello, and taste jelly made from native Mayhew trees on the property while you’re there. Dakin Dairy in Myakka City welcomes school groups and families for tours, a picnic, or a meal at the Farm Market Café. More farms are also offering educational opportunities including farm-to-table dinners, allowing guests a chance to meet a farmer and learn more about how their food is grown.