Southern Hill Farms is a family owned commercial blueberry farm situated on 120 acres in Clermont. Located just southwest of Orlando, the farm is one of many bustling crops being grown in Lake County. Farming in Central Florida has been a family tradition for 4 generations.
Atwood Family Farms LLC is a 23 acre blueberry farm on 55 acres of property and was established outside of Umatilla, Fl in 2014. The farm consists of two southern high bush varieties, Emerald and Flicker. It is operated by Ryan Atwood who first became involved in Florida blueberry production as a fruit crops extension agent for the University of Florida. Ryan is a consultant for many blueberry farms in the state of Florida. Ryan helped to develop a specialty fertilizer for blueberries and worked with blueberry growers in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Ryan has been married to Alison Atwood for twenty years and they have two children Lillian (age 12) and Elijah (age 11). The Atwood’s are proud to be first generation farmers. The Atwood’s when not hard at work enjoy camping, relaxing at the beach and taking family ski vacations.
Far Reach Ranch is a family owned blueberry farm that has been in the blueberry industry for 20 years, situated on 43 acres of mature highbush blueberries, half of which is covered by sky-high netting.
Far Reach Ranch was established in 1947 by Edwin Budge Mead. This 1,400 acre plot land is located on the south side of Lake Dora in Tavares, Florida.
The land was initially used for cattle and orange groves. But, because of the freezes affecting the orange groves the family decided to look for another means to sustain the farm.
In 1994, seven and a half acres of blueberries were planted. Far Reach Ranch first harvest was the following year. Since then this family farm has continued to plant more acres of blueberries.
Blueberries are one of the healthiest snacks in the world. Below, you will find some helpful tips on choosing the freshet and sweetest blueberries.
Look for large firm berries free of green unripe patches on their skins. Quality blueberries are firm to the touch, but not hard, and have a nice even color. The tiny blue petals protruding from around the crown of the berries should ideally be crisp and perky-looking instead of crushed and collapsed. Fresh picked blueberries will always have a light dusty coating called a “bloom.” This dusty layer is entirely harmless and acts as a natural waterproofing that protects the berries from the sun during the growing season. After blueberries have been handled too many times during transportation, they will be missing their bloom.
Avoid blueberries lacking this hazy white coating, as they will not be as fresh. Lastly, look at the shape of the berries. A plump, curvy contour is an indication of sweetness.
Avoid blueberries that are shriveled, mushy, bruised, and show signs of mold or leakage.