Fresh fruits and vegetables always seem to taste better when picked right off the plant. If having a garden at home is not possible, going to a u-pick farm is a good substitute. Many of the pick-your-own-produce farms are open late so picking can be done later in the day or early evening. U-pick farms generally supply the baskets for picking and most charge by the pound for both fruit and vegetables. Try one of these u-pick farms located right here in Tampa Bay!

Parke Family HydroFarms
3715 Tanner Road
Dover, FL 33527
(813) 927-4049
www.parkehydro.comParke Family HydroFarms has been in the farming business since 1956. The farm opened to the public as a ‘pick your own’ farm in 2005. Gary and Terri Parke and their four children operate the farm. The farm offers citrus, strawberries and fresh vegetables, depending on the season. All of the fruits and vegetables are grown using Integrated Pest Management, whereas good insects are used to combat detrimental insects. Produce is sold by weight and varies based on how much produce is purchased. At this farm, 10 pounds of produce will cost less per pound than five pounds of produce. The owners do request that anyone interested in visiting the farm call first as the farm is open Tuesday through Saturday by appointment only.


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Sweetfields Farm, Inc.
17250 Benes Roush Road
Masaryktown, FL 34604
(352) 279-0977
www.sweetfieldsfarm.comSweetfields Farm is one of the best-kept secrets of Masaryktown. At Sweetfields Farm, all produce is grown organically. Vegetables available now are tomatoes, kale, yellow squash, peppers, Japanese eggplant, watermelon and much more. Availability of produce depends upon how much was picked on previous days. Therefore, the owners suggest that visitors call before going out to the farm to find out what produce is available at the time of the planned visit. For those who are unable or prefer not to pick their own vegetables, Sweetfields Farm employees will pick the produce for you if you call ahead and place an order. The hours the farm is open for picking vary dependent upon the weather, so call ahead.


Fort Lonesome Farm
15433 County Road 39
Lithia, FL 33547
(813) 699-2058
www.fortlonesome.orgFort Lonesome Farm offers tangerines, oranges, grapefruit and other types of citrus available for picking in its citrus groves. Also available at Fort Lonesome Farm are various types of grapes. However, during the warm summer months, pesticide-free herbs can be picked at the herb section of the farm. This is one of the few farms where you can bring your leashed pet. While at the farm, visit the ‘Land Lost in Chimes,’ take a walk down to the creek or take in a game of Hillbilly Disc Golf or Hillbilly Putt Putt. Make this visit an enjoyable one for the whole family.


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Hydro Harvest Farms
1101 Shell Point Road E.
Ruskin, FL 33570
(813) 645-6574
www.hydroharvestfarms.comHydro Harvest Farms is a u-pick farm but also has a farm stand where visitors can purchase pre-picked produce. Although the main purpose of the farm is to offer fresh vegetables, the owners also sell local honey and canned foods that have been created using the vegetables at the farm. Some of the vegetables that are available are okra, eggplant, herbs, green onions, asparagus, lettuce, black-eyed peas, purple hull peas and much more. Hydro Harvest Farms now accepts EBT and SNAP. The farm hours for the summer are Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After Labor Day, the farm will be open seven days a week. However, Hydro Harvest Farms is closed on rainy days so the owners suggest calling ahead to ensure that the farm is open.


Big Bear Farms
7606 Kinard Road
Plant City, FL 33565
(813) 986-1152
www.bigbearfarms.mysite.comBig Bear Farms is a certified organic farm that uses no chemicals and only uses organic fertilizers approved by the USDA National Organic Program. This farm pre-picks produce for purchase or visitors can pick their own produce. Vegetables are available dependent upon weather and season. All vegetables are sold by the pound and are sold on a cash-only basis. Children are welcome at the farm but must be supervised by a family member. The owners of Big Bear Farms suggest calling ahead to ensure that that the farm is open.

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Katherine Bostick is a freelance writer covering all things Tampa Bay. Her work can be found on
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)-- The Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program will now be providing an increased dollar amount for fruits and vegetables through September 2021. The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County is encouraging families to sign up for WIC benefits as soon as possible. "Many people who think their families won't qualify are surprised to learn that they are, in fact, eligible for WIC," said Jennifer Parker, Public Health Nutrition Program Director for DOH-Pasco. "Others think they will be taking benefits away from those who may need it more, but that's not the case." Families who are already enrolled will not lose or receive reduced benefits if the number of enrolled families increases. Eligible families for WIC include women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or recently postpartum, and children under the age of five. According to reports, on March 12, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) authorized State WIC Agencies to enhance the WIC benefit for a period of four months, expanding the fruit and vegetable dollars from $9/month for children and $11/month for women to $35 per month, per participant. Florida will begin implementing the increase beginning June 1, 2021 and will go on until September 30, 2021. All women and children who participate in the WIC Program will receive an increase in their fruits and vegetables cash voucher to $35 per participant, per month. For more information on enrollment and eligibility for the WIC Program at the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County (DOH-Pasco) please call 1-877-BEBY (1-877-942-2329).