This working farm hosts school field trips to see what life was like in the farming community of Florida from the 1850’s to the 1940’s. The Dudley family worked the farm for three generations before donating it to the state. It serves as a teaching tool for the state park services to the school children of Florida. But anyone is welcome to Dudley Farm Historic State Park.
Located in the north central part of Florida, in a town called Newberry, this near to Gainesville state park is home to a living museum. Each year, students, organizations and groups are invited to watch state park rangers and volunteers perform in period costumes, the tasks of taking care of a working farm. Chicken and free ranging turkeys roam the property. A working sugar cane mill is set into motion producing cane syrup. Crops are planted using horse and plow in the working fields.
Tour groups of no more than forty people can call in advance to reserve an interpretive state park ranger guided tour as workers dressed in costume perform the daily duties of farm life in at the turn of the century. Guides take you through each of the eighteen buildings, explaining their uses. The farm house is filled with period piece furniture.
But don’t worry if you’re without a group. You can still enjoy a self guided tour around the park. Two hiking trails are available at Dudley Farm Historic State Park. The short “Pause and Ponder” trail is a 1/3 mile loop nature trail takes you to high ground overlooking a scenic pasture. A hand hewn wooden log bench is at the end of the trail so you can “Pause and Ponder”.
The old homestead trail is only available from January through June. A reservation is required and a ranger will guide you through the working farm and pastures for a behind the scenes look at how a working farm actually works. The trail skirts along the edge of 150 year old pasture land with a 100 year old hand hewn split wood rail fence that is politely shaded with stately ancient Spanish moss covered oaks.
When you’re done with your hike, picnic tables are available on the west side of the park. It has six picnic tables and three grills, perfect for a lunch time cookout. Watch the cows graze while you eat and enjoy the scenery on the farm.
For more information on driving directions, fees and reservations, call the visitor center at (352)472-1142 or visit the website here.