Most folks love an unseasonally warm winter. Not so for local strawberry farmers.
The record-breaking warm winter prevented the strawberry plants from setting flowers and future fruit. However, the return of cold weather helped stimulate with eventual new flowers for fruit. Now the warm weather and sunshine is helping to produce plentiful berries with peak season rapidly approaching. Better late than never.
Oak Haven Farms & Winery, a family-owned, local U-Pick strawberry farm, has seven acres of their twenty-acre farm available for picking. Priced at $2.75 a pound, visitors can pick rows of berries, then head inside where fresh strawberry milkshakes and shortcake are made on weekends.
Karen & Harry Stauderman, along with their daughter Lynn, have owned the farm and for twenty years. Strawberries have been available for nineteen years, and six years ago they added a vineyard for making local wines.
The farm is family-friendly and features an obstacle course, playground, short zip line, as well as a hayride on weekends.
Vistiors should call 352-735-1996 in advance of U-pick days due to varying availability. Oak Haven Farms is located at 32418 Avington Road. Weekend hours are Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 11-5.
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Paddles in! A guided paddle trip offering unparalleled views of Lake County’s hidden natural treasures is being hosted byThe Lake County Water Authority and Lake County Parks & Trails
The paddle adventure is scheduled for Friday, March 18 at 9 a.m. along the Stagger Mud Run, one of Lake County’s nine Blueway Trails. Launching from Powell’s Campground, 25716 Powell Drive, Astor, this guided trip will take paddlers into the portion of the run that leads into Lake Dexter and Stagger Mud Lake.
The shorelines offer scenic vistas and opportunities to view wetland animals as well as the occasional manatee.
The paddle trip is free, however, each vehicle will be charged $3 to park at the end of Alco Road in Astor. Participants should bring water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat and comfortable shoes for either of the paddle trips.
A limited number of kayaks and canoes are provided, free for use. Reservations are required by contacting the LCWA at 352-324-6141, ext. 0.
Get out the gardening gloves. Just in time for Spring planting, Lake County’s Landscape & Garden Fair, a will be held April 16-17 at Discovery Gardens.
The family-friendly event is an indoor/outdoor botanical festival providing visitors the opportunity to browse and purchase landscaping products, native plants, roses and fruit trees.
The weekend event will feature expert guest speakers on a variety of topics including butterfly gardening, unusual edibles, shade gardening and hydroponics. Children's activities include the Children’s Passport, a butterfly release scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, and a Maze Scavenger Hunt in the gardens.
Discovery Gardens is nestled on over four acres behind the Lake County Agricultural Center in Tavares and features 24 themed gardens, including a string of lush courtyards and five specially designed children’s gardens.
The festival runs Saturday, April 16 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and on Sunday, April 17 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Lake County Extension Center's Discovery Gardens is located at 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares.
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Wildlife photographers have many tales about how they got the perfect shot. Nature photographer, Greg Jowers, will share his tales and knowledge of the wildlife he “shot” at the upcoming naturalist program "Wild Tails"
Jowers captures gators, black bears, Florida panthers and other Florida wildlife in photos. He also photographs the smaller creatures, by zooming in to show the jeweled eyes of insects, small hairs on spiders and other details not easy to see with the naked eye.
The photographer's sense of adventure and his love of nature is clearly expressed in his images. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than taking a photo that leaves its viewers wondering how he got the shot.
Attendees of the free program can learn how to take a great photograph and capture the essence of wildlife on February 19, at 6 PM at the Trout Lake Nature Center, 520 East CR 44, Eustis. Although this program is free to the public, donations are appreciated and used to fund future education programs. For more information, call 352-357-7536.
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A big shout-out goes to Mount Dora High School athletes that signed to colleges on National Signing Day today! Your hard work paid off and your community wishes you big success!
SOFTBALL: Kyra Gipson - Seminole State College (Raiders) Alysha Bolling - Savannah State University (D1) (Tigers) Delanie Chestnut - Indian River State College (Pioneers) Hailey Dobbs - Lake Sumter State College (Hawks) Ryann Frazier - Lake Sumter State College (Hawks)
FOOTBALL: Brett Heggie – University of Florida Drew Davis – FAMU
VOLLEYBALL: Courtney Randazzo _ University of Tampa
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