Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lake Meadow Naturals

I recently had the opportunity to visit Lake Meadow Naturals Farm in Ocoee, Florida and I have to tell you it was an amazing experience.  For those of you who know me, you know I was raised in a very rural part of the country. Laurel Fork, Virginia to be exact. It's beautiful there. Very lush and green with lots of dairy farms and cabbage crops that are worked by some of the hardest working people I've ever known.  It's a slower pace of life along the Blue Ridge but one I yearn to return to. I felt that same comfortable easiness from back home when I pulled into this beautiful farm nestled in a quaint rural part of Ocoee.

Lake Meadow Farm isn't huge by any means but it's plenty big enough to leave an impact on our area. I fell in love with the way this farm is ran. It's well organized with friendly hands that aren't to busy to stop, say hi, chat a bit and proud to show you around.  Dale, the owner of Lake Meadow Naturals, was kind enough to give us a tour of his farm and teach us a little about what he does and why he does it.
You can tell Dale really loves his work and cares a lot about animals, our environment as well as our next generation of farmers/consumers.

"I want children to know where their food comes from and not think that it just comes from a store." -Dale

It's comments like these that make it easy to see that Dale cares.
Today this valuable life lesson can be learned via the Pick-Your-Own area where your children can come and select eggs straight from the hens nests. I love this idea and I will be taking my kiddos over there very soon to do just that!

If you visit the farm you'll see several types of chickens, the ever popular Rhode Island Red, the beautiful Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island White, with the Rhode Island Red being the most popular egg laying fowl on property. But this isn't a popularity contest. Everyone and everything here is equally important and each has a job to do.

What the Chickens do!
This farm has 3000 chickens that spend their mornings laying eggs. Then around lunch time the doors to the chicken coops open and they are released into the farms court yard to bask in the sun, stretch their legs and socialize with one another in the fresh air. As night time falls they then make their way back to the safety of their coops where they roost and bed down for the night. 

What the Farmers do!
Dale and his crew collect eggs several times throughout the day. After the eggs are collected they go into  a bath for about 15 minutes and then inspected and graded.

 I never knew how inspection and grading worked but it's a very simple process.
 Each egg passes in front of a light that reveals any cracks in the shell. See that egg above? It will be placed aside due to fractures revealed by the light. However, if the egg is free of cracks it is then weighed and dispensed in a trough with eggs of the same size and weight for packaging. The eggs are then placed into cartons and refrigerated.
Oh, and do you remember when all eggs came in those grey or off white paper cartons? Not those shiny pastel colored Styrofoam containers you see in your local grocery store or super markets today.
I'm talking the real paper egg cartons of yesterday.
 Well these lovely eggs are packaged in those same paper cartons. 
And these cartons have a wonderful twist.
 They are made from 100% recycled Orlando Sentinel Newspapers! 
And when you have used all your eggs you can return your carton to the farm where it will be broken down and recycled once more. I totally loved this! 
After the eggs are placed in their cartons
then it's off to the cooler for chilling where these eggs will briefly sit until delivered.

Where will these eggs end up?
Well for starters you won't find them at Publix.
But if you're a local and you want to get your hands on these just visit your local farmers market!
Don't have a farmers market near you? No worries.
These beauties can be found in health food stores such as Chamberlain's as well as other popular health food stores. Call your local health food store and inquire.
Don't live in Orlando and reside in Kissimmee/St. Cloud? Then hit up The Green Place.
It's no lie. 
These eggs are popular and 
hitting the the mixing bowls of some of Orlando's Top Chef's and are served to patrons of the most prized hotels in the City Beautiful.

If you get a chance you really should go for a hormone and antibiotic free egg that you know comes from a healthy happy hen. :)

Like I said earlier, I learned a lot during our visit and some of the facts were just amazing!

For example..
Did you know???
Lake Meadow Naturals chicken feed is ground in New Smyrna and doesn't contain any fillers, antibiotics or hormones. 
It's 100% CORN!
Imagine that!
They have a Pick-Your-Own area for children to hand select eggs straight from the hens nest for purchase. Keep in mind this is First Come -First Served and is a wonderful way to teach your children where their food comes from.

 The also have a country store on property where you can get wonderful heritage meats, cheeses and
 seasonal heirloom fruits and vegetables along with lovely canned jellies, jerky, and even some delicious GLUTEN FREE SPAGHETTI SAUCES!
{Ill be reviewing this lovely find in a separate post!}

Lake Meadow Naturals also raise Turkey. 
Now you can purchase your holiday turkey with none of the bad extras you get with a regular store bought turkey. 
Say bye-bye to the genetically modified turkey in your local store and hello to a beautiful bird free of antibiotics and hormones from Lake Meadow Naturals.

You'll also find lots of different cuts of Heritage Meats in their freezers as well!
Have no idea what Heritage meat is? Well neither did I!
I had however heard of Heirloom Seeds and Dale explained to me that Heritage means the stock has not been bred to heighten or selectively change a breed and they have been the same for fifty years or more.
Basically Heritage is a NON-GMO livestock, where Heirloom is NON-GMO plants.
Pretty cool, eh?

Another beautiful fact is...
Pesticides are NOT used on property.
They use the age old technique that was used back in the 1950's, the Guinea Hen!
These hens are amazing and eat bugs and larvae keeping the farm clean of insects without the use of harmful pesticides. 
Yes folks this is how farms kept insect populations in check before Monsanto!

Lake Meadow Naturals is home to over a half a million honey bees!
Sitting close to Orange groves, these bees make wonderful local Orange Blossom Honey. And when the Orange trees aren't blooming they make a wonderful Wild Flower Honey.
{I'm almost out of honey so I'm super excited about this find!!}

Lake Meadow Naturals recycle 75% of everything they use!
So as you can see Dale's operation is very environmentally friendly and is a finely tuned machine that works harmoniously with mother earth. 

They also produce and sell Duck eggs!
Amazingly duck eggs have a higher nutritional value than regular chicken eggs!
So if your iron is low...try duck eggs.
Duck Egg 15% Iron - Chicken Egg 5% Iron
And did you know that most folks who have an allergy to eggs can consume Duck eggs?

I know this is a ton of information and I haven't shared everything I learned with you. 
If you get a chance to visit this farm please do. It's a great experience I promise.
I'll close with this.
Me on a farm with dogs = Pure Happiness.

All photo credits go to JCPJR Photography.
Please don't use with out permission.

If you would like to learn more about Dale and his lovely farm you can visit them online at


  1. What a truly beautiful post. I have heard about this place but how exactly do you get there? Do you have an address?

    1. 10000 Mark Adam Road, Ocoee, FL. Its really easy just plug this into your gps!