Friday, April 13, 2012

End of the season

One of my favorite bits of Old Florida still hanging on is the roadside citrus stand. While not in the great numbers as they used to be in the pre-interstate era, there are still some businesses selling the bounty from Florida groves, and stepping into these shops is like stepping back in time. This season I stumbled across a couple old businesses that sell Indian River Citrus, which is the "brand" known for high quality and great tasting fruit.

The first place I stumbled across earlier in the year was Davidson Brothers Citrus in downtown Daytona. The owner told me that Davidson's was Daytona's oldest business going back to 1922 and the shop, located near the Halifax Historical Museum, is full of great citrus memorabilia. The packing house is in the back and as I talked to the owner I got a quick lesson on Indian River Citrus and how many growers claimed to be from that region but actually weren't. We left with some delicious Honeybells or Tangelos – a blend of tangerine and grapefruit that are as sweet as candy. I must admit that for years I've not taken much interest in the types and varieties of citrus, and the more I learn, the more I appreciate the different tastes available every year.

When I visited Harvey's Groves in Rockledge last year it was not quite citrus season. This time, Harvey's was open, but just barely as this is the end of the season. Much larger than Davidson's, this roadside mecca on US 1, seemed to be full of snowbirds stocking up before they returned to the north. It was Easter weekend and for many of the folks who come down to sunny Florida for the winter, that marks the end of their stay. So I saw folks filling shopping carts full of the last fresh grapefruits and oranges grown in Florida this year.

Next season my goal is to frequent more of these great establishments and better understand the nuances and subtlety of different varieties of citrus. My recommendation for you is if you see one of these roadside institutions on your travels, by all means stop and get some citrus and enjoy the trip back in time!


  1. Thanks for this post. I miss Harvey's Groves. Growing up in Melbourne, my mom always went out of her way to make sure we had Harvey's Groves OJ in the fridge. They best I can find here (living in the UK is Tropicana)...

  2. When we visit our pals on the West Coast of Florida one of our must stops is Nokomis Groves.

    I'm almost embarrassed to admit that prior to going to the grove it never Really occurred to me that oranges and grapefruits grew somewhere - they're in the stores year 'round, and are just "there". After going to the grove I had a new appreciation for not only the citrus fruits themselves - and the different tastes, but also thought of when an orange was a real special treat, at Christmas or some other major event.

    Now I know why people load up on the fresh local citrus - its hands down better than the stuff trucked into the stores up here in the north!

    I look forward to the Citrus Reports for next year!