Memories flow as community says farewell to beloved farm after 8 decades

Closure of Mixon’s Fruit Farms in Bradenton, Florida will end quite an era

Mixon's Fruit Farms in Bradenton, Florida. Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

These days, patrons visit Mixon Fruit Farms for more than just the products they like.

Sure, they still want to get a tour of the orange and grapefruit trees, enjoy orange-flavored ice cream, dine at the cafe or buy any souvenir at the general store on the property.

But more so, many who have recently visited Mixon’s— a family business that has been around since 1939— comes to say thank you and goodbye, all while sharing a memory of some sort.

“Everyone who comes in here has a story to share,” said co-owner Janet Mixon. “It’s really great to see we’ve had an impact on so many lives in a positive way.”

Pretty soon though, memories will be just about all there is left for those who love to visit.

The business will be closing on July 29, as Janet Mixon and her husband and fellow co-owner Dean Mixon have decided to sell after 84 years.

The price tag for the 39-acre farm is listed at $15.8 million.

There are several reasons why the Mixons have decided now is the time to move on, according to an article on Patch.

  • The farm used to have 350 acres of trees, but are now down to 40 acres. Janet Mixon said in the article that a combination of hurricane damage and disease are big culprits. The Mixons said the North American Free Trade Agreement enacted in 1994 proved to be harmful because it resulted in viruses and disease from imports to come in and infiltrate the farm and destroy supply. “One of the problems with NAFTA is that with the importing of fruits and vegetables, also came every insect and bug that could attack our farms,” she said.
  • The couple also cites high insurance costs that have been increasingly difficult to keep up with. Dean Mixon said in the article that it cost roughly $350,000 for insurance at the farm.
  • Like other industries and businesses, the couple is having trouble finding reliable staffing to help with daily tasks.
  • Both Dean and Janet Mixon are in their 70s and simply want to enjoy some more free time.
Mixon's Fruit Farms in Bradenton, Florida first opened in 1939. Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

The closure also brings into light a sad trend for citrus farms in Florida.

Janet Mixon said the state of Florida used to have 350 small citrus farms.

“Now, there are less than 20,” she said in the article.

Over the years, the property has become more than just a haven for people who want to tour a genuine orange/grapefruit farm and enjoy some fresh juice or fruit.

Knowing the farm was declining in size due to the destruction of trees, the Mixons eventually expanded the attractions to lure more customers.

Spots for weddings and birthday parties and a playground for kids were created, tram tours that included animal exhibitions were started, and the store that features a cafe, souvenirs and ice cream was opened.

All of it worked, as customers and families from around the area and country poured in.

The property has been in the family since 1849 when Dean Mixon’s grandfather bought it, but what will happen to it going forward remains uncertain.

Events that were booked at the complex through January 2024 will still take place as scheduled. There also might be a food truck opening up that will serve popular items from the store’s cafe menu, including the signature ice cream.

But no doubt, it won’t be the same with the farm and its everyday activities gone.

Many assume the land will be simply gobbled up by developers who will turn the space into some sort of housing unit, but there has been serious interest from Manatee County to buy the land and turn it into a park.

One thing for sure is that those who have made Mixon’s a staple of family activities are running short on time to enjoy the farm before it all ends on July 29.

“We’ve been a part of this community for so long and we love it,” Janet Mixon said to Patch. “We love this area and the memories we’ve made here. It feels like we’re doing really good about this (sale) but when it comes time to do this, it’s going to be really hard.”

A cup of the signature orange-flavored ice cream at Mixon's Fruit Farms. Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.