Our Sunday was spent visiting the famous Showcase of Citrus with our church’s kids club. Our Adventurer club outings are always quite exciting and my daughters and their friends were looking forward to this for weeks. I had heard about this massive citrus farm and wildlife reserve but this was my first visit!
The club met at 11am that day and it was very easy to find the farm; it is located on a long stretch of Hwy 27 in Clermont, about 28 minutes from our home. The massive signage is easily noticed from the main road. The Showcase of Citrus features an extensive market of freshly made items, chlli (gator chili is featured here o_o), beverages and a bounty of citrus fruits.
The farm also has a swamp tour/eco tour of the 2500 acre estate. Our group boarded a ridiculously large 4×4 bus-truck hybrid with school bus-like seats for the tour.
Our tour guide was a humorous young man who worked hard to engage the children and make the event exciting. As we traversed the lush, green terrain on these enormous wheels I marveled at how relatively smooth the ride was. The kids were too excited…
Along the way we passed through blueberry fields and orange groves and received a shortened lesson on farming techniques and irrigation. He explained that blueberry picking season is April to May and that the oranges grown on this farm are processed as authentic Florida orange juice or packaged for selling as produce.
We passed through a swampy marsh and the kids marveled as the truck lumbered into what looked like a small river. The massive truck pushed through the standing water easily as the kids kept look out for alligators and other wildlife. The estate is reportedly home to several kinds of animals including snakes, coyotes, and alligators; on our tour we were able to spot wild turkeys running madly across a field.
In a clearing on the other side of the riverbed we rolled upon a herd of grazing cows. As the truck stopped the herd began to wander in our direction, clearly expecting something from us. The bus driver retrieved a large basket of oranges from the front of the vehicle and passed them out to all the riders. The kids had fun tossing the oranges down below to the cows who ate them whole.
We were able to repeat this treat when we stopped beside a smaller herd of water buffalo. As we cruised along we were able to observe Watusi cattle and learned about how their massive horns are highly vascular, allowing for their blood to be cooled throughout the day, serving as a mechanism of homeostasis. After an hour of exploring, the truck lumbered back to the place where we embarked and we all headed to the groves to pick oranges.
By this time most of the kids were tired, over exerted from excitement and from playing in the playground on the property earlier in the day. We set out in small groups to explore the orange groves but the pickings were slim.
To be fair, we were working in the same area we had seen other members of our large group working. It’s possible that all the prime oranges within arms reach were already picked by the time our late behinds made it over there. In any case, the kids enjoyed it for a few moments before announcing they were done and wanted to go and play some more.
We headed back to the store and purchased the oranges (our group was charged $3 per child’s bag) and other organically produced items (I purchased some AWESOME salad dressings and marinades).
Our adventure at the Showcase of Citrus was a total blast and I certainly plan to visit the farm store again to sample more of their homemade items. Have any of you been to the Showcase of Citrus or taken your family to an authentic Florida citrus farm?