Last Friday, after having 4 home inspections, I decided on the way home to St Petersburg from Ruskin/Apollo Beach area to take a 15 minute break in a very hectic week. In the last 3 months I have passed this fruit stand almost weekly but never have had the time to stop.
Oh, I am so glad that I did. As I pulled up there sat a John Deere tractor sporting its famous green & yellow paint. Good so far. The closer I walked to the building the stronger the citrus smell was-one of my absolutely favorite scents. It immediately took me back to when I lived in Northern California and when the Silicon Valley which was still called the Santa Clara Valley filled with orchards, fruit stands & small vineyards.
Did I mention that the temperature here in Florida on this sunny clear January afternoon was 72 degrees? The license plates in the parking lot read their cold winter names off to me-Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Iowa, Quebec, Ontario, Vermont, Maine-you get the idea. I thought how nice it is that I live just only about an hour away, but yet 50 years back in time.
I was greeted by several happy Dooley Grove employees with samples of orange & grapefruit juices only hours off the trees, one of which spoke German to me so I was able to practice a little bit of my German. There were also samples of various citrus fruits including grapefruit, pink Pomelos, tangerines, Ponderosa lemons, Orlando tangelos, Honeybells & oranges (of course, this is Florida after all). I was in citrus heaven!! You can buy the fruit individually (as I did) or by the pound or by the peck or the bushel. When was the last time you bought something by the bushel or a peck? So a bushel is equal to 8 dry gallons or 4 pecks, used for corns, oats, & various grains. I knew that one. Okay, so I had to look up a peck. A peck is equal to 2 dry gallons or 8 quarts or 16 pints OR 1/4 of a bushel. The other guests were buying bags or bushels full of fruit while I purchased my 5 Honeybells & Orlando tangelos. Some guests were waiting for their tour of the groves & then a turn at picking their own fruit. Everyday in January & February they have “u-pick” tours for groups of 6 to 24 people. Dooley Groves is a 3rd generation family owned & run business in Ruskin. Ruskin was founded in 1908 on the shores of the Little Manatee River.
So if you ever find yourself in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, you might want to stop by for some fresh citrus & take a step back in time.