Best Places For You-Pick Produce Near Tampa Bay

September 3, 2014 8:00 AM

As temperatures begin to cool and the days grow shorter, we approach the best season for picking fresh fruits and vegetables in Florida. Fortunately, several farms from around Tampa Bay offer a wide variety of produce ideal for picking. In addition, some boast organic options or grow their produce using innovative hydroponic methods. Here we explore some of the best “you-pick” farms around Tampa Bay.
Hunsander Farms
5500 CR 675
Bradenton, FL 34211
(941) 331-1212
www.hunsaderfarms.com

Open since 1967, Hunsader Farms has been a family enterprise ever since. Originally dairy farmers from Wisconsin, the Hunsanders adapted to the sunshine and warmer climate of the South by choosing to grow vegetables. Their venture has evolved considerably, from a plot dedicated to tomatoes to a diversified and bustling business complete with farmers’ market, petting zoo and a craft and antique store that has since become an ice cream and gift shop. Hunsander can also welcome private parties in a converted barn it calls The Country Club. For pick-your-own season, customers are welcome to head straight to the fields for delicious fruits and vegetables, including apples. Otherwise, a variety of the farm’s finest produce is available in the market, along with homemade jelly, jam, honey and other specialties. The farm is open from mid September through mid June, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day from Monday to Saturday.
English Lake Farm
7288 S.W. Lime Drive
Ft. Ogden, FL 34269
(863) 990-6164
www.englishlakefarm.com

Nestled in the small town of Ft. Ogden, in between Arcadia and Punta Gorda off of Highway 17, English Lake Farm is the perfect place to pick your own produce. With a wide variety, including peaches, blueberries, persimmons, citrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, tangerines and more), mangoes and avocados, there’s something for everybody, depending on the season. The blueberries are famous for their size and juiciness. Other crops available in the farmers’ market include apples, watermelons and even some varieties of trees. English Lake is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Thursday, and starting at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Ergle Tree Farm
3325 Treiman Blvd.
Ridge Manor, FL 33523
(352) 583-3647
www.ergletrees.com

Ergle Farm specializes in trees, but also offers a variety of delicious fruit for visitors to enjoy. The you-pick section includes blueberries and raspberries, ripe off the bush and ready to be eaten. With a meager price of $2.50 per pound, the blueberries are a real steal in late May and early June, but be sure to arrive in the morning because the farm only stays open until 1:30 p.m., or until the last picker leaves. Ergle also sells a variety of trees, including Gala and Beverly Hills apples, two delicious varieties that self-pollinate and are resistant to chill. Also among the tree varieties, pear and plum fans will love the Shinseiki Asian Pears and Nubiana Plums. The farm also sells a variety of Christmas trees, wreaths and Christmas cacti.

Related: Best Places For Picking Fresh Fruit In Tampa Bay

Parke Family HydroFarms
3715 Tanner Road
Dover, FL 33527
(813) 927-4049
www.parkehydro.com

The Parkes have a legacy of farming since 1924, with the family’s immigration from Ireland to Pennsylvania. In 1956, they relocated to Plant City, with the creation of a 10-acre strawberry farm. As time passed, the farm expanded to hundreds of acres and diversified to include vegetables, citrus and other winter fruit. Starting in 2005, Gary and his wife, Terri, created the Parke Family HydroFarms, with its ‘pick your own’ focus, in Dover. Completely hydroponic and free of insecticides and pesticides, the Parkes bring a new philosophy to traditional agricultural practices. Crop choices include a wide varietey of vegetables (such as peppers, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, zucchini and more), in addition to blackberries and strawberries, as well as fresh herbs. Other crops can be available seasonally, and customers may also join the “Produce Club” that comes with a monthly supply of fresh produce. In addition, the Parkes often visit neighborhood farmers’ markets in Ybor, Madeira Beach, Gulfport and Celebration.

D&S Blueberry Farm
19125 Phillips Road
Brooksville, FL 34604
(352) 796-1049
www.naturallyhernando.org

To the immediate east of Spring Hill and not far from the famous Weeki Wachee Preserve, the family-owned D&S offers some delicious fresh fruit in “u-pick” format during the month of May and in the fall. Some of its most popular varieties include blueberries, blackberries, pears, peaches and plums. Sometimes vegetables are also available, depending on the season. Visitors are advised to call in advance to confirm specific types of produce. Open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in fall and spring, D&S is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

Related: Best Year Round Fresh Farmer’s Markets In Tampa Bay

Aaron Phillips has experience in marketing and journalism. Recently back to his hometown, he’s excited to discover and share what Tampa has to offer. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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