It's rapidly becoming a favorite season of the year. This year’s blueberry season kicked off the first week in April and is expected to continue through May.
The growing number of local u-pick farms currently has prices that range from $4 to $8 per pound for the sweet and nutritious treat. Eager blueberry lovers should pick to their heart’s content since blueberries are widely considered a ‘super food’ that’s low in calories and high in nutrients and antioxidants. Here's the list of local U-Pick blueberry farms and their current price per pound and u-pick hours:
Atwood Family Farm 25079 SE Hwy 450, Umatilla, 352-630-0145 $4 per pound u-pick, $5 per pound pre-picked. U-pick hours: Weekends 8:30-4. Weekdays as available.
Blue Bayou Farms (organic) 8222 CR 48, Yalaha, 352-267-5277 $5 per pound u-pick or $7 per pound pre-picked. U-pick Hours: 9-5pm daily, except Monday.
Far Reach Ranch Heavenly Blueberries 1255 South Dora Blvd., Tavares, 352-343-7389 $4 per pound u-pick, $5.50 per pound pre-picked. U-pick hours: Wed.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 10-4. Other offerings: A variety of blueberry jams, blueberry salsa and local honey.
King Grove Organic Farm 19741 CR 44A, Eustis, 352-589-2469 $8 per pound u-pick. U-pick hours are very limited, so call ahead.
Promise Farms 36777 CR 44A, Eustis, 352-408-1988 $5 per pound u-pick or $7 per pound pre-picked. U-pick hours: Mon.-Sat. 9-3. Closed on Sunday.
Sand Hill Blueberries 31614 Bottany Woods Dr., Eustis, 352-636-8204 $4 per pound u-pick or $6 per pound pre-picked. Other offerings: Picnic area, hamburgers and hotdogs on weekends, swings, horseshoes.
Due to weather, field and berry conditions, u-pick hours and pricing can change, so it's recommended pickers call the farm prior to visiting.
When professional anglers descended on the Harris Chain of Lakes on February 22 through 25 as part of the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Tour, they made a little pit stop. Patients at Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares were surprised with visits from some of the nation’s top FLW anglers, including Cody Kelley, Jimmy Reese, Joe Long, Billy Hines, and anesthesiologist Jay Kendrick, M.D., who was the 2015 Rayovac Champion.
The competitive fishermen towed their boats to the 269-bed Florida Hospital Waterman parking lot and signed autographs in the lobby during a public meet and greet.
“Lake County is world renowned for its gorgeous lakes and waterways,” says Florida Hospital Waterman CEO, Abel Biri. “We are proud to be located in this beautiful region and are happy to be involved in this community event in support of sports, health and nature. It was a blessing to our team members and patients to meet the FLW anglers and an honor to show them our campus.”
FLW conducts 274 bass-fishing tournaments throughout the country and gives anglers the chance to compete for millions in prize money. The competition can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show.
When Joanne Phillipp, of Mount Dora, went for her regular check-up with her primary care physician, she felt good with the exception of chronic acid reflux symptoms.
“My physician had been treating my GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease) for a while with medication,” explains Phillipp. “All of my lab tests were coming back normal and my blood pressure was perfect, but he referred me to a cardiologist to schedule a heart catheterization as the definitive test. A few days before my scheduled cath, I started to feel a little off. I was worried and felt like I should go to the ER.”
Phillipp listened to her instincts and went to the emergency department at Florida Hospital Waterman. An emergency heart catheterization showed multiple blockages in her coronary arteries and immediate surgery was recommended by cardiothoracic surgeon, Gary Allen, MD.
“Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgical option for people who have severe coronary artery disease, a condition in which plaque builds up in the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart muscle,” explained Allen.
Bypass surgery typically requires the chest to be opened surgically, and a heart-lung bypass machine is used to circulate the blood and add oxygen while the heart is stopped during the grafting procedure. For some patients, off pump surgery may be an option. With this less invasive technique, the heart muscle is slowed with medication but is still beating during the procedure, circulating blood and oxygen on its own without the need for a heart-lung bypass machine. Phillipp had off-pump coronary artery bypass grafting surgery in early October and today she is back to playing catch with her grandson and planning to run in an Easter 5K sponsored by her church every year.
“I feel fantastic and I am very grateful,” says Phillipp. “I now know that women experience very different symptoms of heart attacks. The sharp pains and discomfort that I was attributing to my GERD were in fact symptoms of an impending attack. I don’t care how foolish you think you are being, if you feel like things aren’t right then mention it to your doctor right away. My doctors saved my life.”
Sharon Simmons, of Tangerine, doesn’t remember the day she was rushed to the Emergency Department at Florida Hospital Waterman, but her family will never forget it. “Two days prior to my hospitalization, I had developed a fever and severe pain in both of my legs. I began throwing up and talking gibberish to my boyfriend,” explains Simmons. “What I thought was the flu or a stomach virus was obviously something much worse.”
By the time Simmons arrived at the emergency department, her legs were changing colors to varying degrees of red, black and blue. The medical staff immediately knew her condition was life-threatening. “The physicians put me in a medically induced coma and immediately took me to surgery,” says Simmons. “The physicians told my boyfriend to call my children because I had a 5% chance of living. My body had become septic and was shutting down.”
“Sepsis is the body’s over active and toxic response to an infection. Any bacterial or viral condition such as bronchitis, urinary tract infection or tonsillitis is considered a form of sepsis,” explains Simmons’ physician and Director of Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Louis Guzzi, M.D. “Early treatment of these conditions is important so that the infection does not progress to a life-threatening state.”
When Simmons woke up in the Intensive Care Unit, she couldn’t move her legs or arms and had what appeared to be burns on her hands and covering her lower legs.
Above: Dr. Louis Guzzi
“I was in the hospital a total of seven weeks and most of that time was spent doing physical therapy and healing my wounds,” says Simmons. “The discoloring of my legs that the physicians noticed was actually the infection spreading through my bloodstream. I was left with nerve damage in my legs and feet from the lack of oxygen to my extremities during the infection. At one point I was facing possibly amputation of several limbs but thankfully it never came to that point.” Today, she is passionate about sharing her story and educating others on the importance of recognizing early signs of sepsis. Until her diagnosis, Simmons had never heard of the condition. “I shouldn’t be here today. I was given a 5% chance of living and yet by the grace of God I am alive,” says Simmons. “I view life each day as a gift.” SYMPTOMS OF SEPSIS S Shivering, fever, or very cold E Extreme pain or general discomfort ("worst ever") P Pale or discolored skin S Sleepy, difficult to rouse, confused I "I feel like I might die." S Short of breath
Watch for a combination of these symptoms. If you suspect sepsis, see a doctor urgently, Call 911 or go to the hospital and say "I'm concerned about sepsis." Find a physician here.