When the subject of blueberries arises, Maine and Michigan typically become part of the conversation. Few folks realize Florida's history growing blueberries began in the late 1800's. This sweet, tasty crop is likely one of the state's best kept, and most delicious secrets. To help celebrate Florida's blueberry season, Mount Dora will have it's inaugural Blueberry Festival on April 18 in Sunset Park downtown.
Although the berries have a lengthy history here, it wasn't until the 1970's that the current hybrid cultivar, the Southern Highbush blueberry, was introduced. By the mid 1980's mass plantings took root in north central and northwestern Florida and the industry has grown ten fold.
Although Michigan leads with the largest crop, hundreds of small blueberry farms have popped up in Florida over the last 30 years. Florida produces four to five pounds of berries per bush, compared to the northern plants that can yield up to twenty pounds per plant. Fortunately, Florida's blueberry season differs from Michigan's, which makes local blueberry farming a viable business. Florida's season can run from December through April, but the U-Pick season is typically only in April.
Here's a list of the nearby farms where you can pick fresh blueberries:
- Blue Bayou Farms, Yalaha, www.bluebayoufarms.com
- Green Acres Fernery, Blueberry & Peach Farm, Yalaha
- Lake Catherine Blueberries, Groveland
- Mark's U-Pick Blueberries, Clermont
Get more information on the Mount Dora Blueberry Festival at www.MountDoraBuzz.com/Calendar
For more local news and events always available at www.MountDoraBuzz.com
Not everyone has the good fortune of calling Mount Dora and its neighboring communities home, but those that do are spoiled in so many ways. It would be easy to take it for granted, except eyes are continually opened to ubiquitous reminders.
The strong sense of community in Mount Dora comes wrapped up in a quaint, picturesque package. Residents are typically kind and caring of each other. They make meals for each other when in need, keep a watchful eye as each other's children grow, show support to local causes and are always ready to lend a hand. This is a place where folks make eye-contact with strangers, flash a genuine smile and are happy to help them find their way. It's a community in which most residents embrace diversity and all the richness and vibrancy it brings.
Mount Dora is a rare place that harmoniously combines those lucky enough to stumble upon it with those who have lived here for generations. The result is a warm mosaic of people that create a rare gem of a community. Maybe that's one reason I'm feelin' lucky today. Why are you?