From left: Michelle and her daughter Harmony, Jennifer, Edith, Steve, Charlotte, Matt
Shady Oak Butterfly Farm is located near Brooker, a small rural town in North Central Florida. Surrounded by woods, creeks, and fields, it is cushioned from the busy hustle of modern life. The quiet atmosphere is an ideal place to raise butterflies and moths for shipping all around the country for others to enjoy.
Shady Oak Butterfly Farm was founded in 1999 by Stephen and Edith Smith. Stephen, a graduate of the University of Florida, is a retired pharmacist with a background in biology. Edith attended Santa Fe Community College to further her knowledge of a lifelong passion, horticulture. They started Shady Oak Farm in the 1990’s, at first specializing in over 600 species of herbs. The love of butterflies began when Edith watched Black Swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on Parsley in the garden. The interest in butterflies soon took over, and the farm slowly made the transition from growing herbs to raising butterflies and their host and nectar plants!
Over the years, some of Edith and Steve's five children have at times joined them working at the farm. Their son David and his wife, Michelle, help out with web design and maintenance. Michelle works in the office part-time. Daughters Ester and Rachel also have worked for the farm at times. Their daughter Charlotte has worked for the farm, and is now busy managing as she takes over running the farm so that Edith and Steve can relax and enjoy a semi-retirement, Edith working on butterfly books and other projects.
The Smith’s 12 grandchildren can often be found at the farm both playing and working as they learn the family business. The farm has grown to employ several non-family team members as well. During the busiest time of the year, the farm raises over 5,000 butterflies per week. Shady Oak sells butterflies and moths in several stages of metamorphosis: larvae, pupa, and adults. Butterfly and moth host and nectar plants are available as well. The farm is approved to ship plants and/or butterflies to all 48 contiguous states.