From coast to coast, the state of Florida abounds scenic prairies, grasslands and farm county. It’s an agricultural hub, supplying many fruits, vegetables and livestock to citizens locally and nationally. North Florida counties like Madison County maintain a soil rich in nutrients and a climate ideal for harvesting plants and produce. Want to get a taste of true Florida agriculture? Below is a one-day trip guide that highlights one of Florida’s organically centered farms: O’Toole’s Herb Farm.
O’Toole’s Herb Farm
In the center of North Florida is Madison County’s certified herb grower, O’Toole’s Herb Farm. It’s an eclectic garden that opened in 1990 by Jim and Betty O’Toole, and is a haven for natural- and organic-food seekers. The herb farm is planted on Betty O’Toole’s family-owned land, which has been maintained by the family since the 1840s. It was built to practice simplistic living and promote overall well being. The garden is centered on the spiritual purification of the body inside and out, and even hosts weekly yoga sessions, property tours and other activities encouraging healthy living. The O’Toole Herb Farm is located in the town of Madison, which is just shy of an hour’s distance from Tallahassee. To visit the O’Toole’s Herb Garden, guests must make appointments.
On site, the herb farm has two greenhouses and one shade house. Combined, the houses grow more than 350 varieties of herbs and vegetables from organic seeds or existing plant cuttings. Items from the greenhouses, including four-inch, three-gallon pots, are available for purchase. Today, the garden is primarily a wholesale nursery, but retail guests are also welcomed to visit the garden’s gift shops.
The O’Toole’s main garden, often referred to as the Patch, is the farm’s main attraction. The garden features an assortment of herbs including lavender, sage, mint and flowers, and it’s situated next to a garden labyrinth. The labyrinth is a pathway of lush greenery, which is used as a spiritual tool to promote thinking, soul healing and to awaken rhythms of inner life. The main garden boasts a Secret Garden, which features a beautiful water garden, and a Butterfly-Hummingbird Garden that is alive with an assortment of flowers.
Visitors also have the opportunity to purchase seeds and plants from the herb farm to begin their own garden cultivation. Betty O’Toole hosts instructional gardening classes for beginners and intermediate gardeners, or for those converting to a completely organic garden. Guest instructors also teach classes on site, and each season they cover different gardening topics. Prices vary from class to class. For more information on classes and the O’Toole’s Herb Garden, please visit their website.
Madison County is equipped with various hotels and local restaurants. Visitors can stay in the Best Western Hotel, Days Inn or the Super 8, which are located a short distance away from the heart of county’s main city, Madison. Visitors can also choose from an assortment of different restaurants individually: