Gas up the car and hit the road! Here are four of our favorite local farms to check out in the springtime.
We all think of heading east in the fall for Hunsader Farms' annual Pumpkin Festival, but did you know the Bradenton farm also offers a variety of you-pick and they-pick fruits and vegetables? While strawberry season is just ending, peas, squash and beans are getting ready for a May harvest and then the first of Florida's sweet corn arrives. The farmers there recommend letting younger children pick the peas and beans and leaving the summer squash and zucchini for the adults since they are heavier and harder to detach from their stalks.
The farm boasts some of the best bright red, ready-to-eat tomatoes you'll find in the area. One case only costs $15, so get your sauce recipes ready. The farm also makes for a beautiful wedding venue, offering a laid-back destination for outdoor ceremonies and barn celebrations, and a petting zoo and plenty of picnic tables make it a desirable spot for a kid's birthday party, too.
5500 County Road 675, Bradenton, (941) 331-1212 or (941) 322-2168, hunsaderfarms.com
Call ahead before visiting Gamble Creek Farm, because fluctuations in the weather may shorten the growing season. But if you do head out, the farm offers traditional and EarthBox gardening, producing a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as lessons on how to grow your own.
14950 Golf Course Road, Parrish, (941) 981-0111, facebook.com/gamblecreekfarm
Known for its award-winning organic produce, Worden Farm offers a co-op-style membership. Their sunflowers and baby arugula are outstanding and soon the farms will plow over for the summer, so enjoy boxes of produce dropped off at various locations or select your own at the downtown Sarasota Farmers Market from November through April. Or pro-book a farm tour and ask about their farm and gardening consulting services.
34900 Bermont Road, Punta Gorda, (941) 637-4874, wordenfarm.com
Mixon Fruit Farms is one of the oldest of the farms in our area, and it's a great stop before or after a spring training or summer league ballgame. Whether you're picking up a few bags of its celebrated oranges or a vanilla orange swirl cone, Mixon will give you a throwback Old Florida citrus experience, and the farm is one of the best wedding venues whether you're planning a down-home country event or an elegant farm chic affair.
2525 27th St. E., Bradenton, (800) 608-2525, mixon.com