Discover some of the many ways to enjoy Florida's home-grown produce
Farms all along Florida’s West Coast grow vegetables, melons, berries, olives and wine grapes that promise delicious and locally grown culinary adventures. Follow these five tips to celebrate wild berries, take in a concert amid an olive grove and sample award-winning wine in Hernando County.
1. Bountiful blueberries
These brilliant blue orbs are big business in Hernando County, where nearly half a dozen local farms are members of the statewide Florida Blueberry Growers Association. Over the years, farmers have discovered heat-resistant strains that thrive under the Florida sunshine. When you’re planning your visit, consider the annual Brooksville Blueberry Festival in April to celebrate the berry through food and drink (there’s live music, too). And notice how area restaurants find inventive ways to feature the berries on their menus — imagine a blueberry reduction, among other delights.
Festival goers shop for local goods at the Brooksville Blueberry Festival
Roll up your sleeves and grab a bucket: Hernando County is studded with U-pick farms, some of which are certified organic. Enjoy a day in the sun and take home the freshest possible blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. (Some farms even plant thornless varieties to protect pickers’ arms.) Most farms charge by the pound, and do-it-yourself berry-picking can be a bargain. Not big on berries? No problem. Hernando County's U-pick farms also offer rows of delectable local vegetables and stunning sunflowers for you to collect.
Local farmers invite culinary adventurers for festivals and do-it-yourself fruit picking
3. Little Rock Cannery
Preserve those fresh-picked treasures at this beloved community cannery in Brooksville, which has provided space, equipment and advice to home canners for decades. Bring your produce here and experienced canners will guide you through the preserving process. Visitors can use the facility for a small daily fee.
Visitors enjoy canning their own produce at Little Rock Cannery in Brooksville
4. The Olive Grove
Learn about olive farming with a visit to The Olive Grove, an organic olive orchard with more than 200 trees. Olives have been cultivated in Florida since the 1700s, though this Brooksville treasure is one of the few orchards in the state. The Olive Grove hosts concerts, as well as workshops on crafts such as soap-making and infusing olive oil. The orchard is also home to a farm store that sells raw olives, olive oil, vinegars, soaps and jams, though the orchard’s lush scenery alone is worth the visit.
The Olive Grove in Brooksville is known for its artisan condiments, like olive oils and pickles
5. Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards
Sip Florida-grown and produced wine at beautiful Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards in the historic city of Brooksville. Situated 83 meters above sea level, this local gem is located on the highest elevation in the state of Florida – meaning visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the vineyard while sipping bespoke whites, reds and blends. The winery grows both native Muscadine grapes and a number of hybrid varieties, making this spot's diversity of offerings as exciting as the view.