Here’s where to buy all of your ingredients from the Sunshine State’s local growers.
There’s nothing like finally laying eyes on a perfectly cooked, flawlessly assembled holiday feast that you’ve prepared with your loved ones, laid out in a sumptuous spread with no room left on the table. Yet, there’s another feeling, much earlier in the process, that can be just as joyous: finding and taking home the perfect ingredients.
Luckily for Floridians, they’re surrounded by local farms that grow quality fruits, vegetables, and legumes while raising healthy livestock perfect for this season’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa meals. If you’re shopping near Orlando, Tampa, or Miami, here are just a handful of Florida farms you can drop by to check holiday must-haves off your shopping list.
Orlando and Central Florida
On the northeast end of Orlando near the Baldwin Park neighborhood, Everoak Farm is a husband-and-wife-run operation that produces certified naturally grown fruits and vegetables as well as pastured hens and small-batch honey, all spread out over 3 acres. Everoak’s pasture-raised chickens could form the succulent centerpiece of your next Jamaican jerk chicken, a dish made with scotch bonnet peppers, ginger, cinnamon, and many more flavors in observance of Kwanzaa, the annual celebration of African-American history observed Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.
Looking for the prize turkey sure to wow your loved ones on Thanksgiving? This year’s holiday is sneaking up fast, as it lands on Nov. 23, so place your order for a Thanksgiving turkey now with A Poultry, a free-range poultry farm and slaughterhouse in Winter Park specializing in processing turkeys, chickens, quails, ducks, and more. A Poultry owner Mirza Ahmed recommends calling ahead before picking up your turkey if you’d prefer to avoid waiting for your order. When the big day comes around, leave traditional cooking methods in the past, and opt to use a pit-barrel cooker to achieve smoked Thanksgiving turkey perfection.
Southern Hill Farms in Clermont has a bounty of plump pumpkins ready to be made into pumpkin pie, a staple of both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, the latter is celebrated by Christians on Dec. 25 each year. According to Better Homes & Gardens, the flavor of pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkins may not completely remind you of the sweetened Publix variety, but it still expertly pairs with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and a drizzle of caramel.
Southern Hills Farms makes the 30-minute drive southwest from Orlando feel worthwhile when you spot the seemingly endless rows of enchanting sunflowers and zinnias—both of which you could take home to adorn your holiday dining table.
Miami and South Florida
Searching for the freshest produce in the Miami metropolitan area? Head southwest to Redland—Miami-Dade County’s last remaining agricultural region, located just northwest of Homestead. Farmers have been growing on these lands since the turn of the 20th century, and Redland remains unique in being the United States’ only agricultural region growing subtropical fruits.
Stop by Serendib Farms in Homestead to find those only-in-Miami fruits that add unexpected flavor to your ambrosia fruit salad—a dish that Kwanzaa Culinarians says echoes the spirit of Umoja, or unity, one of seven principles of Kwanzaa. Luckily, Serendib Farms harvests Barbados cherries through December, which add the perfect amount of sweetness and tartness to any ambrosia salad.
Tampa and West Central Florida
If you’re looking for locally sourced potatoes to craft the perfect latkes for Hanukkah—which begins this year on the evening of Dec. 7 and ends on Dec. 15—you won’t need to venture beyond Tampa’s bustling city center to find them. Meacham Urban Farm is an organic vegetable farm and produce store located in an unassuming block of downtown Tampa. Plan your visit, as Meacham’s farm store is only open Monday and Friday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings. As Niki Russ Federman, the fourth-generation owner of Russ & Daughters in New York City, told CBS News, the key to achieving optimal mouth-feel in a latke is straining out extra liquid before deep frying in oil.
Meacham Urban Farm sells seasonal produce they’ve grown themselves and gathers produce from other Florida farms to sell. This winter, Meacham is offering plump, purple eggplants from Florida’s Little Pond Farm. Use these to whip up a fried eggplant dish for Hanukkah. As reported by the Delaware Valley Italian-American Herald, this time-honored Italian-Jewish recipe “commemorates the miraculous oil that kept the sacred flame of the Temple alight for eight days following the victory of the Maccabeans over Antiochus of Syria,” much like the position that latkes and other beloved fried Hanukkah dishes hold in American traditions. All you’ll need are eggplants, garlic, parsley, kosher salt, and olive oil for frying.
For shoppers who relish in the rare pleasure of picking ripe produce off the vine, Upicktopia in Masaryktown, 40 minutes north of Tampa, is worth the effort. This winter, Upicktopia has strawberries and a bounty of vegetables available, including squash, zucchini, and green beans. This Thanksgiving, why not impress your loved ones with a healthier update on a classic Campbell’s soup recipe? Bon Appétit recommends using fresh green beans along with fresh cremini mushrooms in crafting the most flavorful green bean casserole.