There’s just something about driving slowly along a clay road – no tall buildings or stop lights in sight – and rounding the final turn into Southern Hill Farms. You can see the bustle of the farm in the distance on your way in. Then, once you step foot into the gate, you’re welcomed with open arms into a community that was built not only on agriculture and respect for the land, but also on family.
Southern Hill Farms is a family owned and operated farm in Lake County that began as a commercial business before opening to the community in 2014. According to the website, Southern Hill Farms was started after the closure of Billy and Bobbie Hill’s Central Florida vegetable farm due to the Lake Apopka Restoration Act. Their son in law and daughter, David and Lisa, farmed ornamental trees first then began planting blueberry fields in 2010 to utilize all the available farmland. The blueberries were harvested commercially for several years before the family turned their farm into a destination for the Clermont and Greater Orlando communities.
Now, the third and fourth generation of Hill family farmers work together, along with a team of people they consider part of their family, to educate visitors about their work while allowing them to savor the harvest each season.
A day at the farm is all about community. Whether you gather with loved ones to make lasting memories or meet new friends in line for a Blueberry Lemon Torte Ale (brewed by Big Storm Brewing Co. with blueberries fresh from the farm) or out in the fields, the experience that the Hill family created is what brought you together. And the events sprinkled throughout the seasons make the experience even more special.
The Southern Hill Farms calendar is packed with U-Pick events for the crops as they come into season. This includes blueberries, strawberries, peaches, sunflowers and zinnias. There are also Yoga on the Farm events from time to time, which include a 60-minute yoga class and a blueberry mimosa. On certain evenings, the farm stays open late for guests to watch the sun set over the fields as they enjoy live music, food trucks and adult beverages.
A high-end event that you will want to keep an eye out for is the Farmer’s Harvest Dinner Series. The last series ran from February through April and featured sunset views during a cocktail hour as well as a three-course dinner with locally sourced ingredients, including some straight from Southern Hill Farms.
The largest event of the year is the Fall Festival, complete with sunflower picking, a corn maze and a pumpkin patch in addition to a kid’s zone with festival rides and a petting zoo. This time of year, apple cider donuts (my personal favorite) are available for indulging in a variety of ways, including as an ice cream sandwich for those not-so-cool Florida fall days.
Though Southern Hill Farms is located in Clermont, its spirit embodies that of The Orlando Life. The Hill family has created a place that brings people together over food, fun and a shared experience in support of a small family business.
The farm is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the fall, winter and spring seasons. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as during the summer months.