COMMUNITY

"'ORANGE' YOU COMING BACK?" LAST GROVES IN SOUTHWEST ORANGE COUNTY?

May 5, 2020

Time moves so quickly that on occasion we lose track. Over the years with the increase in the development, Orange County's namesake, Oranges, vanished from the scene at lightning speed. While most welcome the development (albeit with the obvious traffic issues as a major negative), some old timers feel as if things moved a little too fast and that history disappeared along with the groves. Teenagers once upon a time drove back into many of the groves for a bit of adventure in their new pickup trucks. Families took hikes among the groves to pick the Oranges which were in such number that the owners didn't seem to mind.

 

Development is key to the future of Florida. When the pandemic is over with, some experts suggest we may remain in this so-called new normal, although their opponents reject this idea. If the latter is right and development returns to normal after the pandemic, what will become of the last one or two remaining Orange groves in our area? Driving around on a Sunday drive from the Sand Lake area to Windermere, one might find a few remnants of this lost Florida past stamped out almost entirely by theme parks, houses and developments everywhere.

 

The last Orange grove in Dr. Phillips disappeared around 2016-17 as the construction of a new health center began to take place adjacent to the Southwest Public Library. The picture at the top right of this piece is in Windermere where only two Orange groves exist. The property obviously holds more value than the groves produce. Likely in both cases the reason for their existence has less to do with nostalgic sentiments and more with tax breaks for agricultural property. The same situation exists off Sand Lake near Darrell Carter Parkway. Undoubtedly these will disappear too.

 

Property with a value as high as these need not be wasted on sentimentality. However, residents should be encouraged to keep the tradition alive by planted their own Oranges. In the age of social distancing and Coronavirus, self sustenance is key to economic preservation. What better way to start than by planting your own Orange tree, in the neighborhood or the county?

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