For South Florida marine science teacher Carla Fernandez, 28, the Deering Estate at Cutler means more than just a recreational place. It’s a piece of South Florida history.
“It’s unfortunate that some people don’t even know who Charles Deering was,” said Fernandez. “I feel that the Deering Estate is very much underappreciated.”
That may change.
On Sunday, the historic Deering Estate at Cutler will host its inagural “Deering Harvester Day,” featuring family activities, such as bocce ball, croquet and photo shootings, as well as tours of the historic place, which was owned by Charles Deering and his family. Deering, the former chairman of International Harvester Company, died in 1927. His heirs lived at the estate until they died in the 1980s.
In 1985, the state of Florida and the county bought the property and turned it into a museum, consisting of the original wooden Richmond Cottage, the Mediterranean, three-story Deering mansion and 444 acres along Biscayne Bay.
Fernandez, who regularly attends Miami-Dade County recreational events, looks forward to taking her newly born baby old daughter to experience her first fall season there.
“As a parent, I always try to be involved with events like these,” said Fernandez, who used to work for Miami-Dade County parks and recreational services as an interpretive naturalist. “The Deering Estate is definitely one of South Florida’s gems.”
The “Deering Harvester Day” event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tours of the historic homes will take place at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., while a nature tour will be at 12:30 p.m.
“It’s an opportunity for the family to do fun activities like taking pictures and decorating pumpkins, just in time for Halloween,” said Catherine Guerra, Deering Estate marketing and communications manager.
Children will be able to make crafts out of dried leaves and corn cobs.
Karen Solms, visitor services coordinator at the Deering Estate, said making corn husk dolls will be an all-day activity.
“We have been fortunate to get donations of corn husks from the local Publix grocery stores in the area,” said Solms. “We are drying out the corn husks and laying them flat, so that they will be ready to use on the day of the event.”
The event will also feature the “1950 International Harvester Truck,” which was owned by the Deering family for decades.
The Deering Estate is managed by the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department, in conjunction with The Deering Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps fund the site’s preservation.
“We planned this as an event for the family to enjoy and learn a bit about the history of the Deering Estate,” said Guerra.
Fernandez said students can learn a lot by the tours, which explore the ecosystems in South Florida.
“I'm all for hands-on learning,” she said. “I think that getting kids to learn science by going out to the field is the best way to do it.”
If you go
What: Deering Harvester Day
Where: The Deering Estate at Cutler, 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $12 for adults and $7 for children ages 4-14.
For more information: visit http://deeringestate.org or call 305-235-1668