The Strawberry Farm is a picturesque farm located in Milton, Fl. Happy bees pass by you as they pollinate the rows of strawberries that are ripening in the sun.This 10 acre field is surrounded by live oak trees, woods, cattle, and a sense of community. People from all over have made life long memories in these fields!
My first encounter with The Strawberry Field was back in 2017.
Colleen greeted me with a warm smile as she handed me a cardboard box. “Eat all that you can!” she exclaimed, noting that I am 7 months pregnant and toting a 6 and 1 year old along with me. Eat what I can and pay for what I want to bring home? Is she prepared for my kids to fully clear out an entire row of strawberries?! With such a welcoming and wholesome environment, I knew right away this place would be something I looked forward to returning to year after year.
Milton is a small town, housing under 10,000 people. Pensacola is the largest city outside of Milton, making it feel like a farm land extension of the city. A quick 45 minute drive from Pensacola will put you on Evers Road. The Live Oaks create a tunnel for the road, making the entrance to this farm and experience relaxing and beautiful.
The Strawberry Farm is at the end of this short road, and has road markers along the way. After parking along their strawberry field, you will be personally greeted and handed a cardboard box to collect your sun ripened strawberries in. The relaxed nature of the farm is a welcoming change from the normal hustle and bustle.
Meet The Farmers
Leonard and his wife, Colleen enjoy their strawberry farm and all the farm’s components. In 100 acres, they have cattle, 50 horses, chickens, corn, and strawberries. Seeing the memories being made amongst the families, and on a bigger picture, the community, is what they enjoy most about this life.
“Our’s took off like crazy! We never suspected in a hundred years people would drive out here to do this” Colleen said as she reflected on the beginnings of The Strawberry Field. While Leonard has grown strawberries for thirty years for Okaloosa County, this project was special. His cousin, Senator Greg Evers, did so well with his strawberry farm, he reached out to Leonard to encourage him to start a field in his own county. Unfortuatly, Senator Greg Evers was only able to enjoy the farm for one season, as he was later involved in a fatal car accident. What a beautiful legacy to leave behind- a place for the community to gather and enjoy some of Florida’s best strawberries!
Although their specialty crop is only two years old, they have gained popularity rather quickly. With a motto like “eat what you can,” how could they not?! Families are encouraged to eat however many strawberries they want, and pay for what they want to bring home. Colleen’s favorite part of the business is the kids. “It’s a fun place for a child.” With Wine makers, out of staters, families, elderly…people from all walks of life gather here to enjoy the simplest pleasures: fresh air, sun ripened strawberries, and quality time.
What’s more, they love their soil! Using mushroom compost, they feed their soil in their off season. Once all the strawberries are picked, they remove the plastic from the soil, and haul in 18 wheelers full of mushroom compost. They do not use sprays, as they rely on their customers to pick and eat their ripened strawberries. Allowing people to eat all they can reduces waste and the amount of rotten strawberries on their field. While waste is reduced, so is pests, like fruit flies! It’s a win- win!
Colleen’s favorite memories made on the farm have to do with spending time with her customers. “Learning our customer base- we have repeat customers, so I have made a lot of new friends doing this. I keep in contact with them throughout the season, they check on us ‘are you planting?'” With such an positive out pour from the community, she has met people from across the states. “We’re out in the middle of nowhere, we don’t have many people that live out here, but bringing in the masses I have met a million people. We have people who come from Mississippi, Gainseville, Tallahassee…they are coming from all over the place!” With the Pensacola Navy base so close, word (and memories) of The Strawberry Field has traveled with the Navy members to all their locations.
And just what would the farmer’s favorite strawberry recipe be?
Well Strawberry Daiquiris, of course! While Colleen enjoys her fresh drink, her husband knows a thing or two about a freshly made strawberry pie. Cream cheese, whipped cream, chocolate strawberries, and a gram cracker crust, Leonard has a sweet tooth! Sounds divine, doesn’t it?! After a busy strawberry picking season, the plastic covering the beds is ripped up, soil is turned over, and mushroom compost is added in preparation for a new season. This give Colleen time to enjoy her favorite animals, the cows.
After a fun afternoon on The Strawberry Farm, I returned home feeling refreshed. I soaked up all the sunshine and fresh air there was to be had, and my belly was so full. Season after season, this farm remains special. It is a sign that Spring has sprung here in Florida, and a welcoming place to reconnect.