Turning onto Citrus Road off Red Bug Lake Road, I started to notice parked cars–a lot of them. We thought we were on the way to the Good Neighbors Farmers Market in Oviedo. Surely all those cars aren’t here for that, I thought.
But they were. And after our visit to this well-organized, souped-up farmers market that opened late last year, it’s easy to see why the place was packed.
Honestly, fruit and veggie stands aren’t the main draw here. They’re great of course–fresh and mostly local (eggs too!). And the local artisan food booths were wonderful. We sampled tasty Belgian waffles and kettle corn, but there were offerings of breads (including some from Yalaha Bakery), honeys, jellies, spices, and more. A smattering of food trucks are in back if you forgot, like us, to eat lunch.
But with four kids in tow, we spent most of our time at what I see as the biggest thing that sets this farmers market above and beyond, as far as families go: the petting farm.
Stop one was the goat pen. There are plenty available for petting safely through a fence. We squealed more than once at the sight (and sound of) really, really cute bleating babies. We also got to see just how big cows are. (Somehow, you just don’t quite comprehend the size of these creatures when whizzing past them in the car.) The giant Brahman was the most impressive and intimidating, but she still ate gingerly from our hands. Goat and cow food is 50 cents a cup. We also got to pet a couple of month-old baby cows on the farm. So sweet!
Nearby are a couple of donkeys. The one named Valentine got our group laughing by braying loudly, “smiling” to show his teeth, and relieving himself. (“It looks like lemonade!”) The other little brown one, named Donkey, wasn’t nearly as entertaining.
Another nearby pen holds chickens, turkeys, geese, roosters, and a few peacocks. We were lucky to see a proud male peacock showing off his colors and to hear a turkey gobble. A farm employee held a baby chick and let the kids pet its soft downy feathers. A bunny house offers the chance to hold and cuddle a bunny for $2. The kids doing it seemed to be in heaven. (We waited till closing time, and an employee let the kids pet one she was holding for free.)
“Pig City,” a pen filled with a dozen pink mid-size pigs covered in black spots, may have been the favorite of everyone in our party. The little piggies enjoyed having their noses rubbed and backs scratched. There are really big hogs, but you can only view them from a raised bridge–no petting!
A cow-shaped bounce house and giant inflatable slide stand at the far end of the petting farm, and for $2, kids can jump and play all day.
The map showed an area for pony rides, but I overheard someone saying that its not open yet.
If you go: Good Neighbors Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays. We suggest arriving later in the day, around noon, as the crowds started to thin out around then. That also gives you time to eat lunch before you go. (The food trucks cater more toward adult tastes.) Bring cash: It costs $2 to get in, but kids under 3 are free. Also, read up about the history of this farm–the owners’ family has been on the land since the early 1900s! Address: 1101 Lloyds Lane, Oviedo. Email: email@example.com