Agritourism Planted and Prospering
Ocala/Marion County, in North Central Florida just a short drive from either coast and the Orlando theme parks, is home to 700 horse farms, including 450 thoroughbred farms, totaling 30,000 acres and is often referred to as “The Horse Capital of the World’.
While Ocala/Marion County has been attracting equestrian businessmen and tourists for years, another sector is now gaining in interest among tourists; it is agritourism.
The most recent economic impact study conducted by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Services at the University of Florida reports that there are 28,000 jobs in agriculture in Ocala/Marion County that account for 1.17 billion in revenues for agricultural-related businesses. Here is a list of agriculture-based activities at some of the county’s most-popular agritourism destinations the entire family can enjoy.
Farmers Markets and Specialized Shops
The Ocala Farm Market is one of the biggest farmers markets in the county. It is held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. across from the Downtown Square in Ocala, Florida. Each week, you can visit with more than 60 vendors selling their produce that includes: seasonal fruits and vegetables, garden and houseplants, meats, dairy, seafood, and handmade crafts.
Circle Square Farmer’s Market was recently named one of the best farmers markets in the country by livability.com. Circle Square is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Circle Square Commons located at 8405 SW 80th Street in Ocala, Florida. They provide a wonderful selection of fresh seasonal produce from over 30 local growers as well as baked goods, plants, hand-made soaps.
The Orange Shop open since 1936, grows, picks, hand-packs and sells a multitude of citrus including: Citra Navel Oranges, Temples and Honey Tangerines, Temple Oranges, Valencia Oranges, Tangy Tangerine Tangos and Ruby Red Grapefruit. The Orange Shop also sells honey, jelly, sweets, and pecans. Shop hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, October 15th through June 1st. The Orange Shop is located at 18545 US Highway 301 in Citra, Florida.
Berry picking may not be common in other parts of the U.S., but in Ocala/Marion County, berry picking is so abundant there are more than a dozen popular dozen berry-picking locations, including B&G Blueberries and Blues Brothers Farm.
B&G Blueberries offers two seasons to pick your own blueberries, early season and normal season. Early season begins in April and ends mid-May. From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. you pay $3.50 per round. Normal season begins in June and ends in early July. Rounds become less expensive, dropping to $2.50 per round. B&G sells plants (Blueberry, Thornless Blackberry and Persimmon), fertilizer and pine bark. B&G Blueberries is located at 10203 North East 100th Street in Fort McCoy, Florida.
Blues Brothers Farm is a farm that specializes in producing blackberries, blueberries, grapes and peaches. Located at 4290 NE 97th Street Road in Anthony, Florida, Blues Brothers Farm is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Blues Brothers Farm specializes in different fruits each month. From April to May, you can pick blueberries. From June to July, you can pick blackberries, and August to September, you can pick peaches and grapes. For more berry-picking opportunities visit: http://www.ocalamarion.com/play/agritourism/.
Christmas Tree Cutting
There are not many places in Florida where you can select and cut your own Christmas tree. Ocala/Marion County is home to multiple locations to experience this special opportunity.
Nicholas’ Christmas Tree Farm offers four types of trees for you to choose and cut, Sand Pine, Red Cedar, Leyland Cypress and Arizona Cypress. Nicholas’ also sells fresh vegetables, raw honey, pure bees wax and candles. Nicholas’ is located at 14260 SE 80th Ave. in Summerfield, Florida.
Gibbs Christmas Tree Farm offers more than just tree cutting at their farm, they also have hayrides and a petting zoo. Gibbs has four different trees to choose and cut from, Sand Pine, Red Cedar, Arizona Cypress and Northern Fraser Firs. Gibbs is located at 9740 E. Hwy 318 in Citra, Florida.
Wagyu and American-Kobe Beef
Artisan Cattle, a ranch located in Ocala, produces Wagyu as well as American-Kobe Beef at their farm that covers hundreds of acres. Wagyu Beef is known for its delicious culinary properties, while American-Kobe Beef is produced similarly to the highly coveted Kobe Beef of Japan. This unique and rare Florida farm sells a combination of both that are produced and sold locally at a great value. You can learn more by visiting their website here.
Groves and Vineyards
Century Oaks Nursery & Grove is an extraordinary farm serving Ocala/Marion with fresh, wholesome locally grown oranges and peaches. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, Century Oaks also offers fresh flowers, including daylilies. Century Oaks Nursery & Grove is located at 5375 Northwest 219th Street Road in McIntosh, Florida.
The Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau is the official branding, sales, and marketing organization for Marion County responsible for generating brand awareness, increasing travel to the area and booking sporting events, conventions and meetings. For more information, contact us here.