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Peel a new opportunity

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  • | 11:00 a.m. October 28, 2016
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Third-generation Florida orange growers Dean and Janet Mixon seek to squeeze new revenue sources from an unusual source: organic bamboo.

The Mixons, owners of Bradenton-based Mixon Fruit Farms, are working with OnlyMoso, an Italian agricultural company with a U.S. headquarters on the east coast of Florida, in Sunrise. OnlyMoso, named for a type of bamboo, works with farmers and landowners in setting up organic bamboo farms. One of the areas the company targets is Florida, south of the Tampa area, where it says the year-round climate is ideal for its species of bamboo.

Mixon Fruit Farms is the first grove or farm in the Sarasota-Bradenton area to sign a partnership with OnlyMoso. Janet Mixon says OnlyMoso courted her at the right time, after another season of struggle in the orange grove, where citrus greening wrecked a sizable portion of the crop.

“The company came and looked at our land and said it would be perfect for this,” Mixon tells Coffee Talk. “I'm excited about this.”

Mixon Fruit Farms, on 50 acres, has carved out six acres for its burgeoning bamboo farm. OnlyMoso representatives are helping Mixon Fruit Farms with the planting procedures and startup process through an agreement where some of the sales proceeds will be split.

Mixon says there's a big learning curve in going from oranges to bamboo. So far she's learned that the OnlyMoso species of organic bamboo trees can grow as high as 65 feet and as rapidly as three feet a day; it's one of the most common species of bamboo used in the textile industry, with a breaking tenacity greater than cotton, wool or polyester; and it takes about a year to harvest.

And while Mixon isn't giving up on the orange, she hears OnlyMoso bamboo is quite tasty. Bamboo shoots, according to an OnlyMoso prospectus, are a common vegetable in Asian cuisine and culture and are high in antioxidants. “I hear it's really pliable,” Mixon says. “You can take a bite out of it like asparagus. I'm anxious to find out what it tastes like.”


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