Monday, July 23, 2012


"I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world."
~George Washington

Last Thursday I boarded one of three buses for the Annual Farm Tour of Santa Rosa County. Santa Rosa County has a total area of 1,173.57 square miles, of which 1,016.93 square miles is land and 156.65 square miles is water.

santa rosa county florida map
Santa Rosa County outlined in pink.

Santa Rosa County can be divided into three distinct sections: South Santa Rosa, which comprises the areas around the bays, the Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.  Central Santa Rosa is the area north of the bays and south of the extensive forests separating it from North Santa Rosa and North Santa Rosa is forest and farm country. It is in North Santa Rosa that we spent the day touring. The rich soil and long growing season make this area a perfect setting for farming. Cotton, peanuts, soybeans, blueberries and hay are some of the crops grown in this area.

We visited a Christmas Tree farm, met the Farm Family of the Year and learned about their farm and crops, met with numerous bee keepers, had lunch at the wonder Farmers Opry, visited the demonstration orchard at the Jay Research Center and ended our day at Holland Farms where we were treated to watermelon, canary melon and boiled peanuts. It was a wonderfully informative day the left me with a new appreciation for the farms and farmers and the incredibly hard work they do to  maintain their farms, tend their crops and raise their families. North Santa Rosa is so different from the sandy coastal area where I live. The coast offers its unique ecosystem of white beaches, sand soils and emerald waters. But North Santa Rosa has its own verdant beauty. Neat rows of crops growing acre after acre, the smells of rich soil, freshly mown hay and a landscape dotted with farmhouses, silos and livestock define this area of our county. 

Here are some of the places and sights we enjoyed on our tour.

 Matriarch of the family who own the Christmas Tree farm shares the story of the farm and the work required to grow quality trees. Hurricane Ivan devasted their trees and they are only now reaching saleable sizes. Before moving here and starting the farm, both she and  her husband worked for the Pentagon.

A well-shaped tree waiting for a holiday home.

 Smaller trees that were planted after Hurricane Ivan.

 Sign on the farm.

Pastoral scenes

 Commissioner Salter presenting the recognition plaque to the Farm Family of the Year.


We travelled in air-conditioned comfort.

 Some of the honey products from local hives.

 Honey "Bears"

 Vintage separator. Honey combs are placed in the basket, hand cranked to spin the basket which motion releases the honey from the combs.

Our visit to the demonstration orchard at the Jay Research Center was spoiled by heavy rain. We viewed the orchard through rain-soaked bus windows.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


"Just because you didn't put a name to something did not mean it wasn't there."
~Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

We've had a visitor to the yard lately. A lovely redheaded shorebird. I've taken its picture several times, but I'm at a lost what name to give it. I've called on birder friends for help and it turns out there is not a concensus. Some say Little Blue Heron, others Tri-colored heron juvenile. One even expanded on that and thought it a Tri-colored heron juvenile molting to adult plumage. Whatever name it deserves, I'm glad is stopped and visited for a few days. Haven't seen it the last couple of days. Perhaps it flew to place where everybody knows its name.