As I posted about on instagram a few weeks back, we visited a citrus grove when we were in Florida over the holidays. My grandma lives on a small island down near the Everglades and we’ve gone down to visit her at least once a year since I was a little kid. Most of our trips have always consisted of laying on the beach, seeing movies at the local diner-style movie theatre, and taking boardwalk adventures through the Everglades. All those activities were up there on my list this time around but I also wanted to try something new; this time I wanted to pick some legendary Florida citrus. The idea came after reading Forager: A Subjective Guide To Miami’s Edible Plants this fall. The book is filled with adventure photos of foraging in the tropics which was so different than the mushroom and apple picking I am used to here in the Midwest. I wanted to be able to forage in a sundress instead of a sweater and to walk away with my hands smelling of sweet orange.
I was able to pull my reluctant mother and boyfriend away from the beach one morning and convinced my grandma that there are things worth getting off the island for. We drove off the island and a good hour into the inland of Florida. I should let you know that driving in the ‘country’ of Florida is not like any other countryside I’ve been to in America. It doesn’t take long for the coastal mansions and condos to fade and before you know it, you’re on a small dirt road that is wedged between vibrant swamps. We drove through the swamps for an hour before we started to see citrus groves dotting the landscape a few acres at a time. Finally, right when I was starting to get to the point of being nervous that I dragged my family out into the very wild south, we came upon the citrus ranch I had mapped out. The farmer’s were similar to Midwest ones (in fact, they were originally from Michigan but had moved down to Florida to retreat from the winters) but the landscape could not have been more the opposite. This was the kind of place where they told stories of rattle snakes getting too close to your dogs and pesticides ruining your bodies; this was the kind of place you won’t find without really looking for it. This is the kind of place where you find real adventures and discover where your food comes from.