Are you ready for a road trip? Well buckle up! We're going on a roadtrip of the Florida gulf coast, what I like to call the "Old Florida" roadtrip. I want to rediscover those old tourist dives that were once the hotspots back in the 40's- 60's. These were THE places to vacation before "the mouse" moved into Florida. Today these hotspots are charming little seaside villages, small on crowds but big on fun and adventure. So come along with me and my family as we explore Old Florida (and vow NOT to eat at a single chain restaurant along the way....its all local!)
After leaving Crystal River, Homosassa & Weekie Watchee, we traveled further south. In planning my trip of "Old Florida" I really wanted my children to KNOW "Old Florida". Besides beaches and theme parks, what do you relate to Florida? I put some thought into it and of course, I think of the oranges. It was really the basis of this trip. My husband and I used to live in Sarasota with my oldest son, Bama, sixteen years ago. Bama has found memories of climbing the fruit trees in his great grandfathers yard and gathering fruits of many kinds....oranges, lemons, grapefruit.
(My son, "Bama" cira 1996)
I wanted my younger two children to have those same experiences. And oranges fell into our theme of "Old Florida".
Thus...a trip to an orange grove!!!!
The Orange Grove is part of "Fort Lonesome, Vineyard and Veggies". I found the Orange Grove by doing a google search of "you pick fruits and vegetables" in the state & county we were going to be in. I always like to go and explore and visit farming communities in an area. It's something I want my children to appreciate as well. Thus the trips to area farms....even at the beach!
They do not use pesticides on the crops. Everything is all natural!
But the best thing about a fruit grove to me, aside from the fresh fruit.....is the smell of the blossoms.
It was something I wanted my children to experience. To remember.
Aside from the fruit we picked, my children harvested onions. Some HUGE organic onions.
The owner of the grove is naturalist, he was wonderful in giving us a tour of his garden, and really wanted my children to learn something, something they could take home with them, besides the fruit and vegetables.
It was about being kind to "Mother Earth" and understanding what differnt herbs can do. I only thought I knew alot about herbs, I learned much too. The owner wanted us to taste the herbs as we went. After pulling the onions, my children complained abotu their hands smelling like onion. "I have just the thing for that!", he excitedly proclaimed. He went and grabbed a plant I was familiar with, although my children we not. He gave each child a strand of the grass and asked them to run it on their hands and count to twenty. The did. "Now smell!"
"Lemony!" said J Smooth.
"You can't smell the onions at all!". Sister Sledge announced.
I love little lessons like that. Lessons that my Great Uncle Dick used to teach me in his gigantic garden when I was a child. Lessons that my "city" children miss out on.
I highly suggest that you check out your local farms. And if you are on a trip, do a few minutes of research and then take a couple hours to visit a farm in the area. You will probably end up bring home more than just market fresh product, but also a bit of knowledge.
And knowledge is power! (I learned that from School House Rocks)
Tomorrow we are back on the road...and headed further south. So join me for more of our Old Florida roadtrip, won't you?
For more stops along the way of our family trip to "Old Florida", click here.
The Grove Information:
The Orange Grove
15433 County Road 39 South, Lithia, FL 33547.
Directions: 15 minutes from Brandon, Sun City Center or Plant City. Crossroads are CR 672 and CR39, Lithia Florida (aka, Fort Lonesome) 2 miles South of Lithia State Park campgrounds, on CR 39, 1200 feet South of CR672. Call for updates, do not email. Click here for a map and directions.
Open: November 1st through April, Saturday, Sunday and ALL Holidays, 10am till 6pm. Payment: Cash, only. Please bring change, 1s, 5s, 10s. Always bring change to u-pics