This week the St Johns Cultural Council explores the County’s still vibrant rural communities, where you can enjoy traditional harvest-themed activities and experience the Gullah Geechee culture that strongly influences our culinary scene. During the annual Rails to Trails Festival, the SEA Community of Spuds, Elkton, and Armstrong, celebrates their connection to the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor.
Agriculture is a vital part of St. Johns County’s heritage. On their blog, the Council has written an introduction to the town of Hastings, the Bull’s-Hit Ranch, and Railroad Park, where you can learn more about the customs and lives of the farmers and ranchers who developed western St Johns County.
“Before you’ve had your fill of St Augustine’s Nights of Lights, save room to visit the Sykes Family Farm Crop Maze in Hastings and make plans to attend Elkton’s Bright Nights of Drive-Thru Lights,” says Executive Director Christina Parrish Stone.
Visit the Potato Growers Association Building on Hastings’ Main Street and meet artist Albert Ernest Backus, who taught his impressionistic landscape style to many of Florida’s Highwaymen painters.
The first Spanish settlers of St. Augustine, those who traveled in galleons across the Atlantic Ocean with Pedro Menendez in 1565 and Menorcan families seeking a better life, were sustained by the crops harvested by Timucuan Indians on farmland located in what would become rural St Johns County.
As the county grew and developed during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, “farm-to-table” dining became an important part of Flagler Era hospitality. Today, Historic City News subscribers can find dozens of area restaurants who feature locally sourced products.
Finally, save time to stop by Norma D’s Kitchen in Hastings to enjoy guaranteed-to-please southern comfort food with the locals. You can always work off those calories with a walk or ride on the 19-mile long Palatka to St Augustine State Trail.