‘Homegrown is best’

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‘Homegrown is best’

August 11, 2016 - 14:40

A small farm in Masaryktown is producing healthy foods - in a totally natural way.

Photography by Sue Quigley

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In an ideal world, our food would be organic, unspoiled and totally delicious. But these days, unfortunately, we don’t always know where our produce comes from.

However, that is changing as more and more people are looking to buy local, organically raised and grown foods rather than typical grocery-store produce.

“Homegrown meat, eggs and vegetables free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals are good for you and just taste better,” said Dee Blaha.

Dee Blaha, and her husband Mike, own Rabbits, Etc., a small farm located in Masaryktown. Mike Blaha was born and raised on the property he and his wife now farm together.

“My father had given me a small piece of farm land when Dee and I were to be married and then when he passed away, I inherited the rest,” he said.

The Blahas considered cattle, sheep and other farming avenues but decided that breeding rabbits was the way forward for them.

“They’re quiet, gentle and I can handle them easily,” said Dee.

“So it really did all begin with two rabbits,” she laughed. “Those two rabbits went to 30 and soon after it was 400 and we had to build another barn,” she said.

The couple’s Masaryktown farm presently has about 60 breeding females, or does.

“We sold a lot of our herd because we are looking to retire soon,” said Dee.

The couple also raises other animals: beef, chickens, turkeys and pigs but those fluffy herbivores are high in demand because of their low fat, low cholesterol and high quality white meat — not to mention their reproductive prowess.

“We know people can be emotional about eating rabbits because they’re cute and fuzzy and often raised as pets, but they are a healthy food source.,” said Dee.

The Blahas explained that rabbits grow and multiply quickly, and they convert calories into pounds more efficiently than other animals.

“Rabbit meat is very popular in most European countries.” said Dee.

“All of our produce here is free of antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals and pesticides,” said Dee.

The farm supplies fresh eggs, herbs and vegetables and offers a special farm membership, which is good for frequent customers as they get a discount with produce, meat, eggs and compost.

Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is designed to encourage relationships between consumers and growers and for consumers to become more knowledgeable about the way their food is grown.

“It’s become a popular way for people to buy locally grown food directly from us,” Dee said. “Our farm membership starts as low as $25 a week.”

CSA members pay a seasonal fee and receive a share of the weekly harvest. Each member’s share is bagged and ready to be picked up once a week.

Blahas’ farm also raises worms for composting. They specialize in African Nightcrawlers, Eisenia Foetidas (Red Wigglers), and Hybrid Red Wigglers (Alabama Jumpers).

“We raise them ourselves and we ship all over the world, all year round,” said Dee. “We have customers in Egypt, Japan, the United Arab Emirates.”.

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Dee Blaha’s Rabbit Recipe
Cut a whole rabbit into pieces. Lightly flour and then sauté it in garlic, olive oil, onions and mushrooms and a few green peppers. When brown, smother it in sour cream and white wine and let it simmer it for about an hour or so in a deep skillet. Serve over spinach egg noodles.

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IF YOU GO

Rabbits etc., is located at 16362 Wilson Blvd.
Masaryktown,
Florida 34604-7335.

Farm Hours
10 am to 5 pm

Call: 352.796.0459
Monday- Saturday
10 am to 7 pm
or send us an e-mail at:
info@bestbuyworms.com- or - info@rabbitsetc.us.

Visit: www.rabbitsetc.usfor the full range of vegetables and produce available