After a couple of years of struggling, Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton — which has been in operation for nearly 85 years— might look a little different in 2024.
The owners of the farm, in a statement kicking off its 84th season, cite citrus tree diseases, COVID-19 closures, staffing issues and Hurricane Ian destruction as some of the challenges the farm has been overcoming. “We have dealt with so much,” says Dean Mixon, president of the farm, in the release.
The Florida citrus industry has been grappling with citrus greening disease huanglongbing, which has led to a decline in orange output for growers across Florida.
With all that to overcome, Dean and his wife and co-owner Janet Mixon now say they are starting to consider making changes. “We get several offers every year from people that would like to buy the property and we never really gave it a second thought,” Janet Mixon says.
This isn't the first time the Mixon's would be selling the land, or at least some of it. According to a 2005 Business Observer article, the Mixons sold 280 acres between 15th and 27th Streets East to the Metro Development Group, which had planned about 1,400 homes in a community named North Park. The developer later sold the property to New York City real estate investment firm GTIS Partners in 2013, citing the real estate market crash as to why the site wasn't developed.
In a déjà vu moment, the Mixon’s are now taking a “serious look” at some of the offers they’ve been getting.
“We don’t have a signed contract, at this time,” Dean says, “however we are in the process of seeing what can be done on our land.”
The original sale in 2005 consisted of 280 acres, leaving the Mixons roughly 40-50 acres for a grove, gift shop, packinghouse and café.
The statement stresses that nothing is expected to change until at least 2024. Currently, the farm is being prepared for the Taste of Mixons event on Nov. 5, a chili cook-off put on by Bradenton-based Southeast High School culinary arts students. On Nov. 11, the farm will celebrate veterans and first responders with a free ice cream and $10 to spend toward lunch.
The following day will feature a Harvest Festival with more than 50 crafters and entertainment, including a concert by Jack Hartmann in the children pavilion. The Christmas Craft Fair will take place on Dec. 10 and include a visit from Santa Claus.
“Dean and I want to continue making Mixon memories as long as possible,” Janet says, “so we hope everyone comes out for a fun time.”