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April showers bring May flowers and now is sunflower U-pick season in Florida. Recently, I visited three Tampa Bay-area farms to soak up the sunshine and bask in the glory of stunning sunflowers. All three are an easy and nice drive from the Tampa area.
COVID-19 Note: While Florida is in Phase 1 of reopening, farms are considered an essential business.
Hunsader Farms in Bradenton
Located in Bradenton, opens in a new windowHunsader Farms includes a farmer’s market in a barn-like building, petting zoo, playground and picnic area, ice cream and gift shop, antique barn, old town, and u-pick field.
U-Pick Sunflowers at Hunsader Farms
When it comes to the u-pick sunflowers, walk up a hill (which may make it challenging for those with mobility issues, although I saw it done), pay the $2 admission, head down the other side of the hill then follow the signs to find the perfect golden bloom.
The sunflowers stalks were anywhere between mid-thigh to shoulder-tall and provided the perfect scenery for photo shoots. Many girls and women were dressed in pretty, flowing spring dresses, cowboy boots, and brimmed straw hats. They posed for selfies with bunches of flowers or had their gal pals or boyfriends (or Instagram husbands) snap the perfect picture.
I saw a photographer meet a family with and watched as they placed a metal tub in the field then placed the baby in the tub. I’m sure the final shot was adorable. There was also a photogapher with a tripod and ring light, snapping photos of her model.
Did I Snap a Sunflower Selfie at Hunsader Farms?
I thought maybe I could get some decent, artistic Instagram-worthy self-portrait shots. You know, the ones where the Instagrammer is looking away from the lens and off into nothingness while looking absolutely perfect with makeup and hair on point, like there’s nothing weird about being glammed up in a farm field. That’s just not me. I’m self conscious of others watching me, plus, I’m just not good at posing for photos. But still, using my selfie stick in one hand and grasping my small bouquet in the other, I snapped a few selfies.
5500 C.R. 675
Bradenton, Fla. 34211
opens in a new windowwww.hunsaderfarms.com
2020 fees: $2 to enter the u-pick sunflower field and $1 per cut flower. Cash only.
2020 hours: The sunflower u-pick hours are Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Hunsader Farms and 2020 COVID-19
Due to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, a sign advised of social distancing and some of the farm amenities were not available.
HarvestMoon Fun Farm in Masaryktown (Brooksville)
Driving to opens in a new windowHarvestMoon Fun Farm in Masaryktown near Brooksville, I thought maybe Google Maps had it wrong. I was driving through a residential area but then, I spotted the entrance to the farm.
HarvestMoon Fun Farm’s sunflower field was more of what I was expecting, a field lush with sunflower stalks taller than me. But, navigating through was a little bit overwhelming. I suppose that’s because it’s a big maze! (I’m told in the fall, they have an amazing corn field maze.)
After getting checked in, I was told where the entrances were, the cost of each flower, and that I had about an hour. Simple enough, right?
Stalking Through the Stalks
The sunflower stalks were tall and thin and it was easy to get lost in the field, although there was a clear path. But, since my visit was in the afternoon, the decent flowers seemed to be in the interior of the field which meant carefully walking between stalks to capture the most exquisit flowers. I knew I spotted a beauty when I looked behind me and a 30-something-year-old gal was close behind, telling me, “she won’t let me be alone.”
Umm, creepy! Especially when we’re suppose to be practicing social distancing. As a made a beeline for the flower I spied, I looked away, probably some distraction she caused, and went in for the cut and took the flower! Oh, well. There were hundreds of other suitable specimens.
Another Sunflower Selfie
Of course, I found a spot for setting up my tripod for a quick selfie. Oh, goodness. Am I THAT vain? But really, I recently turned 50 and who cares if I’m vain or not.
The visit was a nice, casual vibe and I appreciate the attention to social distancing. They also had an area where you can trim off the leaves from your prized flowers.
HarvestMoon Fun Farm
15990 Stur St, Masaryktown, FL 34604
Phone: (800) 373-4811
2020 fees: $10 minimum purchase. Cost of flowers are $2 per flower, $3 per colored flower (like black or orange), and wild flowers (zinnias) are two for $1.
2020 hours: Varies but open through May with reservation.
HarvestMoon Fun Farm and 2020 COVID-19
Because of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, timed reservations are required at HarvestMoon Fun Farm. This way, they can control how many people are on the property. There’s no fee to secure a spot but they have a $10 minimum purchase of flowers, which is easy to do. Practice social distancing (at least six feet from the next person), and groups should be no more than six people. They also ask when interacting with staff that face coverings be worn and maintain social distancing in the sunflower field. Cost of flowers are $2 per flower, $3 per colored flower (like black or orange), and wild flowers (zinnias) are two for $1.
Sweetfields Farm in Brooksville
My whole sunflower journey began because I learned about opens in a new windowSweetfields Farm in Brooksville on opens in a new windowFacebook. The farm uses organic methods and it seemed like a fairytale-type destination, something I would need to experience. I’m happy to say, it lived up to expectations and I had a wonderful experience.
After entering the farm, I made a beeline to the u-pick sunflower area where there was structure. One of the farm staff guided visitors down specific rows of sunflowers. She offered help when requested especially since the selection is overwhelming. After picking the flowers, head to an area and pay for them. If you do not have a vase or jar, now’s your time to purchase a nice opens in a new windowmason jar to place your flowers.
Perfect Sunflower Selfie Spot at Sweetfields Farm
Next, it was the sunflower maze where the stalks reached heights of at least eight – 10 feet tall. As I’ve blogged before, I have an opens in a new windowabnormal anxiety about getting lost and was comforted in knowing there were two emergency exits, which I was tempted in using.
I’m really glad I did not because it lead me to the perfect sunflower selfie spot, near the exit, which is the entrance. Set between two rows of sunflowers was a rectangular-shaped mirror with mosaic tiles framing it. It seemed like an odd location but it makes total sense. You can use the mirror to pose for your selfie! I’m not sure if that was the intention, but that’s what I used it for, except I did not catch a flake of mascara. Ugh!
Thinking about my itinerary at Sweetfields, I should have walked the maze first, then the u-pick sunflowers. The way I did it, I ended up carrying a half dozen sunflowers in an oversized mason jar for about 30 minutes.
Sweetfields also has a u-pick veggie area along with picnic area under big oak trees offering shade. If you’re not up for picking your own veggies, pick them up in the barn on your way out.
Sweetfields Farm Wall of Positivity
A beautiful Florida spring day kissed with a breeze made my Sweetfields Farm visit everything I thought it’d be. Bees cheerfully buzzed, hopping from flower to flower. The staff were lovely and so were the other visitors. The farm animals like pigs and goats were spry and cheery. A vendor sold delicious coal-fired pizza which hit the spot. To top off all the niceties of the farm is the Wall of Positivity. On it were uplifting messages of love, hope, and encouragement written by visitors.
17250 Benes Roush Rd.
Masaryktown, Fla. 34604
Tel: (352) 279-0977
opens in a new windowwww.sweetfieldsfarm.com
2020 fees: $8 admission – pre-purchased, $2 per sunflower.
2020 hours: varies through May. Visit their website.
Sweetfields Farm and 2020 COVID-19
Because of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, timed, pre-paid reservations are required at Sweetfields Farm. This way, they can control how many people are on the property at a time. The fee is $8 plus a service charge. Practice social distancing from others by at least six feet, and face coverings are encouraged. Stay at home if you have any symptoms or at high-risk, visit in smaller groups (no larger than 5 per group), and take advantage of the hand sanitizer and hand washing areas.
Stopping to Admire the Sunflowers
The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has been horrible on so many levels, but there have been some bright spots. One of which being I feel as though I have been gifted with more time. Because of Florida’s safer-at-home order, I have been working from home since mid-March. My evening and weekend activities have been reduced to almost none. Although I’m still working, I’m the president of a state-wide association and have some after hours responsibilities, but I can do them from home. In being gifted time, I feel as though I now have time to enjoy and experience life rather than taking a glimpse. Outside of work, most of my free time is for me.
Florida is heading toward Phase 2 of opening and soon, we will be in our new normal. When that happens, I plan to hold onto my precious time so I can stop and admire the sunflowers and other blooms more often.
Tips for Visiting U-Pick Sunflower Farms
- If you need a reservation, make a reservation. Do not show up without one if a reservation is required.
- Remember, if you pick (cut) it, you buy it! And CUT the flower from the stem, do not pull up the entire plant.
- Come prepared! Items I suggest bringing:
- Clippers (cut the stems at an angle)
- Closed-toed shoes.
- Long pants (you may be bushwacking through a field so save your legs the scratches, plus, bugs may be out.)
- Insect repellent. (If you get bit by bugs, you may want a opens in a new windowBug Bite Thing to reduce itchiness.)
- If you are allergic to bees, be careful! Bees love sunflowers.
- Containers to keep your sunflowers hydrated
- Water – for you and your sunflowers
- Cash – many farms are cash only and some have vendors selling food and beverages.
- opens in a new windowSelfie stick!
Thank a Pollinator
My T-shirt is from Raygun and I picked it up when I was in Iowa for the caucus earlier this year. You can order a “Thank a Pollinator” shirt through the opens in a new windowRaygun website. Look around their site and I’m sure you’ll find something else you love.
My mascara, although it flaked off in the Florida humidity, is Thrive Causmetics and I absolutely love it! It’s the first mascara that does not leave dark circles under my eyes and makes my lashes look long. Check out what opens in a new windowThrive Causemetics has on their website. Use that link to save $10 on your first order!