Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County

Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County
Farm tours in Sarasota County

Take a Local Farm Tour

Learn about the “Eat Local” movement by taking a tour and finding out what’s happening at some Sarasota County farms!

As a kid, my mom regularly took me and my brother to farms to buy (or pick) vegetables, see newborn calves, feed little goats, collect warm eggs, milk cows, and maybe, just maybe, get an ice cream cone made with that milk. It made her so happy to place fresh products into her basket, like pristine heads of broccoli, just-picked tomatoes, lettuces bigger than our heads, corn bursting with sweetness, and beautiful brown eggs, which she couldn’t wait to cook for breakfast. 

Local farms, especially those that are owned by families, are a wonderful way to connect with the land and all that it provides. Farmers are stewards of that land — it’s in their blood. It’s a job filled with hard work, worry, planning and pride, and they keep going because that’s what they do. From my experience, these folks aren’t usually in it for the glory or the money (although, I’m sure that would be nice), they seem to do it because they’re passionate about providing good food and healthy options to their neighbors. 

On the consumer side, the list is long as to reasons for buying from local farms. One of the biggest is that it supports the local economy, where dollars spent stay in the local community, creating jobs and supporting families who are our neighbors. Buying from local farms also ensures that the food we’re getting is fresh, tastes good, and has more nutrients in it because it has traveled a shorter distance to get to our tables. Further, when we buy from a local farmer, we actually know where our food comes from — if you’re lucky enough, you might even meet that guy or gal at the farm or the market, and isn’t that just awesome?

In Sarasota County alone, we’re fortunate to have more than 20 growers harvesting items like citrus, honey, poultry, strawberries, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, native plants and more. Many sell products at farmers markets, or to local restaurants or businesses, and some even offer tours in order to share their farms with the community. Below are a few that offer tours so, go ahead, book a tour and maybe even keep a pair of galoshes in the car, just in case you have the opportunity to roam through a field, pick some berries, or milk a cow.

  1. The “Eat Local Farm Tour” on March 18 is a chance to tour several farms in one day, including Blumenberry Farms, Seneca Farms, Grove Ladder Farms and Florida Native Plant Nursery. Planners of the event, Transition Sarasota and University of Florida/Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, are showcasing these few as a sampling of what makes our community great. Board a bus with other food-lovers, see a school garden in action, enjoy a box lunch by Zildjian Catering, learn about local efforts to curb food waste, taste something made with in-season produce (courtesy of My Delicious Blog), and even hear about residential composting. A great way to spend the day, all for the ticket price of $36.99. Check out Transition Sarasota for details and be sure to get your tickets by March 9
  2. If you like milk, or cows, or farms, or taking tours, then Dakin Dairy Farms is the place for you. On their ‘Dairy Tour’ hayride you’ll roam through barns to see the cows in action, get a chance to bottle-feed baby goats, calves and sheep, and even see pig races. Pig races! You’ll also get a chance to milk a cow, learn how the milk is processed at the farm, and even taste that milk. Schedules vary, so be sure to check out their site for details.
  3. Mixon Fruit Farm offers group tours that adults and children alike will enjoy. Ride the ‘Orange Blossom Express,’ have a group birthday party, tour the grove in a tram, and stop in for an ice cream.
  4. Sarasota Honey Company offers a “Honey Bee” tour, a free opportunity to walk through the facility, see hives in their bee-friendly garden, learn about beekeeping, hear about their method for keeping bees healthy, and sample the honey. The 2-hour “Beekeeper Experience” is a hands-on chance to feel what it’s like to be a beekeeper by wearing the gear, inspecting the hives, seeing the harvesting in action, and more. Check out their site for schedules.
  5. Sweetsong Groves is a 2-acre farm in a residential area of northern Sarasota. Their specialty is tropical and subtropical fruit, including bananas, avocados, papayas, Surinam cherry, lichees, plus a variety of pollinator-friendly plants and more, all grown in an environment utilizing permaculture principles. Owner Darryl McCullough offers tours of the groves.

###

Nicole Coudal is a writer and home-chef based in southwest Florida, where she fishes and cooks using local ingredients. When not on the water, she visits farms, farmer’s markets, and other food-related venues to highlight what’s in-season and to create tasty recipes. Read more at www.MyDeliciousBlog.com.