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February 28, 2019

Spring bucket list: A day on the U-PICK farm in Tampa Bay! 

By Heather DeManche

Originally published in the March 2019 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

Spring is coming and that means sweet, juicy and memory-making fun U-picking at farms, orchards and groves in and around the Tampa Bay area. When I was a kid, my grandparents brought my brothers and I picking in Plant City and I still remember the sweet smell of those yummy ripe red berries and running the fields scooping them up and shoveling them into my mouth faster than we could put them in baskets. 

It’s a good idea to check the social media pages of these venues or to call before you plan your trip, as hours can change daily based on weather and crop availability. Many of these venues update their Facebook pages weekly with times, dates and prices.  

A few tips for first time pickers from a veteran picker with 3 boys: 

  • “The early bird catches the worm.The weather is more tolerable in the morning and you get the best selection for picking. 
  • Bring lots of H2O! Hydration is key while under the Florida sun. You might be picking for an hour or longer depending how much goes into your belly versus how much goes into your basket! 
  • Its Florida, so sunscreen is a must! Hat and sunglasses are highly recommend as well if youre picking later in the day. 
  • Sneakers and socks to protect from fire ant mounds are a strong suggestion with little ones running through the dirt fields. 
  • Most places provide baskets or buckets at no charge and place your harvest in a bag to take home. Picked fruits can bruise easily, so I suggest bringing a shallow container to place your harvest in for the drive home. 
  • If you are going with little ones, be prepared to have them covered in fruit juice. Picking is fun and they will probably eat more than they collect for consumption at home, so expect those cute picking outfits to get dirty. Its best to bring plenty of wipes and play clothes. 

upicktopia-tampa-u-pick-farm

Upicktopia 

This is truly a one-stop shop for year-round U-picking, and a great location for both newbies and veteran U-pickers! Upicktopia is a charming farm and winery that sits on 56 acres in Masaryktown, which is about 30 minutes north of Tampa.They offer strawberries, blueberries and blackberries when in season. 

Related: Early Strawberry U-Pick at Upicktopia! 

Throughout the fall, winter and spring, the farm offers between 15 to 30 types of produce such as bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and collard greens. 

Upicktopia updates its Facebook page weekly and offers U-picking throughout the week. 

They also regularly host events with food trucks and live entertainment, but you are welcome to pack a lunch and eat under shaded trees at the picnic tables. Families are encouraged to visit with the turtle and chickens, as well as enjoy some fun on the group swings. 

And since they are a winery, theres nothing wrong with a little fermented fruit juice for the adults! Visit their Facebook page here.

 

Tampa-bay-U-pick-Farms

Keel & Curley 

This popular winery located off I-4 offers U-pick peaches and blueberries in the spring, as well as U-pick vegetables during the winter and spring months. 

The U-pick blueberry season will kick off withtheir 12th annual Blueberry Festival, which takes place in early April over the course of two weekends. 

Cool down after picking at the full service restaurant while the kids enjoy the gated playground. (See above!) Visit their Facebook page here.

 

Tampa-bay-U-pick-Farm-Southern-Peach-CompanyThe Southern Peach Company  

This fifth generation family farm in Lithia has all the charm peach picking has to offer, including a photo opportunity with an old fashioned truck as you enter the orchard. The century old farm offers plenty of peaches to go around for everyone starting in late April. 

After picking, stop by Alafia River State Park which is just minutes away for some relaxation and fun under the trees. Visit their Facebook page here.

 

Tampa-u-pick-farmsFlorida Sweeties  

The friendly owners of Florida Sweeties will begin rotating between four orchards in the Dade City area staring in late April. Rotating orchards allows the pickers the best opportunity to go home with plenty of perfectly ripe peaches.

Related: Florida Sweeties U-Pick Open in February 2019 for U-Pick!

One of their orchards, Florida Sweeties Naturals Orchard, is considered organically grown. The orchard updates its Facebook page weekly with location, price and time. Visit their Facebook page here.

 

Tampa-Bay-U-Pick-Farms-Blueberry-Cottage

Blueberry Cottage Farms 

Blueberry Cottage Farms in Lithia is a quaint farm providing delicious home-grown blueberries in a small, picturesque and extremely peaceful setting. 

Blueberry Cottage Farm is open on weekends and some select weekdays through May. The farm accepts both cash and credit. Visit their Facebook page here.

 

Tampa-U-pick-Farms

Dooley Groves 

Located in Ruskin, Dooley Groves is open for juicy orange and tangerine picking from November through April. They are open rain or shine, seven days a week, with January and February being the best months for climbing the trees to pick Honeybells. Visit their Facebook page here.

 

Hancock Groves

This century old Florida farm located in Dade City offers a wide variety of citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines and grapefruit, as well as strawberry and peaches. Hancock Groves offers a great morning’s worth of entertainment for the whole family.  Visit their Facebook page here.

A Few More of Our Favorite U-Pick Farms in Tampa Bay:

O’brien Family Farm in Bradenton

Brookdale Blueberry Farm in Plant City

Spivey Farms in Plant City

Strawberry Passion/Passion Organics Farm in Thonotosassa

Be sure to follow their websites and Facebook pages for u-pick dates!

 


About the author: Heather DeManche is a fourth generation Tampanian and a graduate of the University of Tampa. She worked in news for ten years, from WFLA In Tampa to C-SPAN in Washington, DC. She left the fast paced news environment for an even crazier beast, taking on the roll of domestic engineer after having her second child. She now spends her days and nights planning fun and educational outings in and around the Tampa Bay area to keep her three boys busy and out of trouble.