It Might Not Be a Long Road Trip, but Southern Fresh Farms Is a Fantastic Family Day Trip Destination
While we might not have chilly fall temperatures in Southwest Florida, that shouldn’t stop anyone from celebrating the new season. One fantastic place to revel in the fun of fall is at Southern Fresh Farms in Fort Myers.
Owned by a multi-generation farming family, Robert and Shelly McMahon’s little farm paradise is open to the public to enjoy.
Four years ago they started their Fall Festival, which is every Saturday and Sunday in October. Admission to the festival is free. They offer hayrides ($2 per person), lots of pumpkins, farm-fresh produce, handcrafted food items, crafts, vendors and the kids can feed the animals at the petting farm or burn off some energy at the playground.
But, of course, most kids who visit the farm want just one thing: a pumpkin.
“We sell our pumpkins at really reasonable prices. We sell by the size, not by the pound,” Shelly says. “I want every little person to go home with a pumpkin of their own, so it’s very important to me to keep the prices affordable. We make sure to get a lot of smaller pumpkins so every little one gets to take one home. I’m a grandma, so I know what it means to them. I also love to see their faces light up.”
During festival days, Shelly is also busy cooking up a storm! They plan to offer a menu that includes pulled pork, pork tenderloin and fish tacos. Shelly also makes her own salsa—made completely from ingredients on the farm.
“She’s quite the cook!” Robert says.
Shelly estimates 800 to 900 people visit per day during the festival.
“It’s a lot, but the turnover is pretty fast, so it never feels too crowded,” she says. “We don’t charge admission or for parking because there are so few family-oriented activities or events that are free these days. We want everyone to feel welcome.”
Not only is Southern Fresh Farms a fun, family-friendly local destination, it’s truly a working farm. They grow lots of produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, beets radishes, strawberries, flowers and all sorts of peppers—even ghost peppers.
“We sell what comes directly from the farm, so we have lots of great produce available most of the year,” Shelly says. “We have quite a growing number of regular customers who love coming out here for their produce. We also have an open-field policy, so customers are welcome to stroll through the farm and see where it all comes from.”
“We haven’t changed our produce prices in five years. Most of our items are about $2 a pound,” Robert says. “We’re probably not going to get rich doing what we are doing, but we love what we are doing.”
The McMahons are longtime Floridians. While Shelly is originally from Illinois and moved to Florida as a young child, Robert was born in Fort Myers and so was his mother.
“There has been someone from Robert’s side of the family in Florida dating back to 1896,” Shelly says. “We really love it here, and we are really proud of our farm.”
Southern Fresh Farms is open to the public year-round, and they offer regular special events, including food trucks and live music on Fridays, children’s storytime and craft project once a month, $1 movie nights during Christmas break and a Gator Fest in March. They also sell Christmas trees during the holiday season.
There are certainly many reasons to take a “road trip” to Southern Fresh Farms this fall.
8500 Penzance Blvd., Fort Myers, Florida, 239.768.0309, SouthernFresh.farm