I feel pretty fortunate to be a foodie living in Florida. With average temperatures in the 80s and a tropical climate with the highest precipitation in the United States, we pretty much have fresh locally-grown produce available all year long. Florida is the second highest producing state for fresh vegetable production and while you’ve probably tasted our luscious tomatoes, sweet sugar cane, and zesty oranges, you might be surprised to know we also grow mushrooms, peanuts, sweet corn, celery, strawberries, and avocados too. And that’s just to name a few! << I like to brag on my home state 😉 >>
Our beaches and attractions certainly get a lot more attention then our 9.25 million acres of farmland. And rightly so. But the next time you’re visiting, if you’d like to have a real farm-to-table experience, I know just the place and its located in my hometown of Orlando.
Amid majestic oaks and tall scrub pines is a 7,000 square foot organic culinary garden, Whisper Creek Farm. Located at JW Marriott Grande Lakes, this rustic dining event space is a working farm that grows a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables including cucumbers, collard greens, sweet potatoes, mango, and citrus. There’s even 120 pineapple plants surrounding the perimeter as a spiky natural barrier fence.
While this rather large enchanting garden provides most of the fresh produce for the hotel’s six restaurants, it’s also available for group dining under the stars. Imagine the chirp of crickets at twilight, the sweet scent of hay barrels, market lights strung low in a glowing zigzag pattern over rustic table settings covered in gingham with mason jars holding fresh cut flowers. It’s the kind of ambiance that would capture any foodie’s heart, and I have not yet even mentioned the menu.
The beauty of dining on open land is that there can be an outdoor fire pit roasting meats in an Argentinian and Uruguayan barbecue grilling style. Another open-fire creation you might find on their menu are some cast iron skillet creations such as cornbread served with hand churned butter and raspberry chipotle jam. A sample dinner might be wood roasted Guinea hen with grilled Florida peach relish, bulgur wheat salad, and warm donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for dessert.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if you want a true Florida-style plant-to-plate immersive dining experience, Whisper Creek Farm is the place. I had the opportunity to tour it recently and I can’t wait to go back for an event!
Want to find out more about all the great culinary offerings in Florida? I write regularly for the Food & Dining section of Visit Florida and recently also teamed up with Florida Buzz Report! Check ’em out!
Full disclosure – I am receiving compensation for my work with VISIT FLORIDA and Florida Buzz Report, but I never work with companies that I don’t like or trust. I honestly do love this farm! I’ve lunched there several times and enjoy seeing the veggies in the ground each time I go. 🙂