Thursday, April 5, 2012

710 U-Pick It Farm, Okeechobee, Fla: Sweet Tomatoes & More

Do you remember when tomatoes tasted like fruit? I do, and this past weekend I got to pick some fruity tasting tomatoes at 710 U-Pick Farm in Okeechobee, Florida.

Entrance to 710 U-Pick Farm, Okeechobee, Fla.
It was scorching hot when I turned into the colorfully flagged U-Pick Lane. A short dive down a dirt road brought me to an open-aired shack surrounded by cars. I walked in and saw bins filled with fresh vegetables. A man behind the counter was telling customers the best place to pick cucumbers. He suggested they drive their car into the field.

Open-aired shed at 710 U-Pick Farm, Okeechobee, Fla.
There were big buckets, about the size of industrial paint tubs, stacked near the register. I grabbed one, and said I was interested in u-pick vegetables, especially tomatoes and zucchinis.

The counter man said, "Well there's already a lot of people going down that road," pointing to a road near the entrance, "So you better go down that road," he said, pointing to another road at the back of the farm. He directed me to turn left at the end of it and go all the way down to a fence. "It'll be the best place to pick," he said, handling me a knife.

Zucchini fields at 710 U-Pick Farm, Okeechobee, Fla.
I thanked him, went back to my car, climbed in and drove to his suggested point. Then I took a big swig of water, slapped on some sunscreen, and climbed out onto the sun baked field near the zucchini plants. It was even hotter that it had been by the shed. I like small zucchinis because they're the sweetest tasting and I was happy to see there were many to pick.

Vine ripened tomatoes, 710 U Pick It Farm,
Okeechobee, Fla.
Copyright 2012 by A. G. James
Then I drove to the tomato fields. There were cherry, plum, and larger fruit. Unfortunately, not many of the cherry tomatoes were ripe. Still, I managed to pick close to three pounds of the other varieties.

I drove back to the shed, and was pleasantly surprised to find out the zucchini were just $0.69/lb and the tomatoes $0.89/lb.

When I got home, I had another pleasant surprise. The regular sized tomatoes had an incredibly sweet, floral flavor reminding me of my childhood. They were the best tomato I had eaten in years.

710 U-Pick Farm uses organic growing methods and is open most days during daylight hours from sunrise to sunset. The growing season is from November to May. Their address: 25801 Warfield Boulevard (also SR 710), Okeechobee, FL 34974

They grow many types of vegetables but you have to call to find out what's available: 772-597-4510.

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