SHELFER FAMILY’S JOSHUA CITRUS INC. FEATURES GROVE STAND, TOURS AND ON-SITE EVENTS
Written by: Ava Grace
Joshua Citrus Inc. is located near Joshua Creek, a 26.9-mile stream that runs through DeSoto County, just outside Arcadia, Florida. It’s where orange trees have been growing since 1880—when James Shelfer, his wife and their three sons (and a herd of cattle) moved to the area from Texas and soon thereafter planted their very first orange tree.
As time went by, the Shelfers planted more trees, thus producing more oranges. They eventually started selling their harvest to packinghouses and canning plants. And while things have changed since James Shelfer placed that first orange tree into the ground, one thing that has not changed is that it remains an all-in-the-family operation.
Generations later, the owners are still Shelfers. Kevin Shelfer (great-great-grandson of James Shelfer), his wife, Lynn, and their two children, Olivia and Caleb, now own and operate Joshua Citrus. In 1989, the Shelfer family started the fresh fruit side of the business. That endeavor has led to growing more citrus varieties—including grapefruits, lemons, tangelos and tangerines—as well as offering a grove stand, grove tours and on-site events.
Joshua Citrus opens about the first week in October until around mid-May, Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can purchase fresh citrus, seasonal vegetables, fresh juices, delicious jams, local honey, Sunshine State gift items and homemade ice cream. Citrus lovers will be glad to know that it sells orange-flavored ice cream, orange-pineapple ice cream, and even orange juice and pineapple juice floats, along with other tasty treats.
“During season, on the first Saturday of the month, we have ‘Saturdays at the Grove Stand,’ where visitors can enjoy local music and a local food vendor,” explains Olivia Shelfer Meador, communications manager/general manager of Joshua Citrus Inc. Also during season, a food truck will be on site for “Food Truck Fridays.”
Other fun events feature wine and food pairing classes, in which delicious five-course meals are served. Upcoming dates in 2021 include “Saturdays at the Grove Stand” on Feb. 6 and March 6, and “Food Truck Fridays” on Feb. 26 and March 26. Check for details about events—and more—at facebook.com/joshuacitrus.
Tours of the groves, although scaled back a bit because of COVID-19, are still in operation for a per-person charge. Shelfer Meador says, “We are only offering tours for groups of 20 people who are together as a group. School groups, church groups, gardening clubs and others can enjoy a tour of the grove and factory where the citrus is prepared and juiced.” Joshua Citrus, a member of the Florida Agritourism Association, recommends that visitors wear masks.
When visiting Joshua Citrus during the months of February and March, you can pick up some fresh Murcotts, known as honey tangerines. Or choose some Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange.
Other offerings include Temple oranges, a cross between an orange and a tangerine, or Valencia oranges. They are sweet oranges that are perfect for juicing. And, of course, if you like ice cream, local honey and tasty jams, you pick up some of those, too.
Joshua Citrus Inc.
4135 SE County Road 760