What is in this article?:
• Any old-time citrus grower can tell you that there have been a lot of hills and valleys in this business.
• Anybody with a weak constitution, this isn’t the business for them. You have to live with your mistakes year after year. You have to keep an eye on the weather all the time.”
THIRD GENERATION Florida citrus grower Scott Young, based in Alturas, values his heritage. “We grow the best oranges in the world in this area and we’re proud of it,” he says.
Meet me at the barn,” says Scott Young — and just about everyone around Alturas, Fla., knows about his family’s barn.
It has hosted many a party for Polk County folks and been the setting for political benefits, Miss U.S.A. contestant practices, and serious discussions of citrus industry issues.
His father, Leland, built it three decades ago, never intending it to be the usual farm barn full of hay and cows. He quickly filled it with an eclectic collection of agricultural antiques, car tags, doodads of all sorts, family mementoes and autographed photos of governors, senators, members of Congress and other bigwigs, many pictured with Young family members.
Their office is inside, in a corner, but Scott pulls up an old wooden chair in the shade of the barn and sits looking straight at a grove of orange trees that he knows like a good rancher knows his cattle. He is the third generation of his family to grow citrus on this place.
“I’ve been doing this all my life,” he says. “I guess that’s like saying I’m a stumbling dinosaur — but we always make it. The ones who stay with it in this business are tough old nuts.
“We’re not like row crop farmers; we can’t plow our mistakes back underground. I love this business; I love seeing that first load of fruit go to the plant. It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t done it.”
The Youngs have an instinctive feel for all facets of the citrus business, he says.
His father and both grandfathers worked for Pasco Packing Co., in Dade City, growing fruit as well as harvesting and packing it. His mother says she learned to count at a young age by tallying credits for fruit pickers.
Scott’s parents, Leland and Wanda, are still active in the 400-acre business. He knows, however, that it is a much different business than when his father was a young man.