Just about 25 miles East of Tampa, Florida sits the hub for the Strawberry Growing Capital of Florida – Plant City. You’ll find it just off I-4, the main route between Tampa and Orlando. It’s a small but vibrant city in an agricultural region and probably best known for the annual Strawberry Festival.
Among the special places to visit in the area we know of two that are well worth the trip.
The Toufayan Bakeries plant, established in 2005, is just East of Town at 2615 E US Highway 92. It’s a modern factory that employs more than 100 local residents. Among the many things they bake are items in the “Sophia’s Cookies” line that you find in your local grocery stores.
Now what do you suppose they do with the overruns, extras, and remnants from a successful day of baking? Well, suppose no longer for they have the “Toufayan Cookie Cottage” located right beside the plant!
There you may find on any given day, boxes or bags of Pecan Shorts (shortbread cookies), Vanilla Cremes, Chocolate Chocolate Chips, or Vanilla, Lemon, or Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies and others. All fresh and all at a greatly reduced price.
If you like cookies, this is the place for you.
It is Parkesdale Farm Market and was started in 1969 by daughter Cheryl and son-in-law Jim Meeks of Parkesdale Farms Founder R.E. (Roy) Parke, Jr. who started a farm with just 10 acres of strawberry plants in 1956. The farm has expanded over the years into hundreds of acres of the finest strawberries, citrus, and vegetables available anywhere in the country. Parkesdale also added their own plant nurseries, with four extensive greenhouses, where they produce over a million vegetables and flowering plants annually.
Parkesdale Farm Market is the place to find citrus, fruit, and all manner of vegetables. They have a gift shop and they will also mail fresh fruit to anyplace in the Country.
The main draw for most visitors from around the World who visit the area is the fresh strawberry shortcake prepared while you watch during the local strawberry growing Season, which is January through mid-April.
“Every winter, people flock to Parkesdale Farm Market from across the United States, even as far as Europe and Asia, just for a bowl of our World Famous Strawberry Shortcake! Served fresh from the fields, sweet sliced berries sit atop a bed of shortcake with a healthy dollop of whipped cream as garnish.
“Our shortcake has been an ever improving recipe to combine the tastes of the south with the appeal of the north for the perfect shortcake. A little like a biscuit with a touch of cake, our shortcake is just sweet enough to compliment the juicy strawberries and moist enough to soak up all the sugary flavored berry juices.”
Niki and Jack will attest to the fact that once you try a Parkesdale Strawberry Shortcake your mouth will water just thinking about it and you will soon be planning your next visit. (We have heard that even President Obama likes a Parkesdale Strawberry Shortcake.)
There is a large, enclosed and comfortable, greenhouse-like area with picnic tables set among the various potted flowering and hanging plants and palm trees they have for sale, which makes it a unique place to sit and enjoy your shortcake.
What began as a small farm market has continued to grow and expand into the largest Strawberry, Citrus, and Produce Market in Florida!
Parkesdale Farm Market is located at 3702 West Baker Street, Plant City, Florida 33563 (813) 754-2704 or (888) 311-1701 Toll Free