Since 1950, Schacht Groves has upheld Orchid Island's citrus-growing tradition

My dad grew up in Vero Beach.

His parents arrived in the 1950s and I grew up with stories of his childhood spent on this then-remote island off the coast of Florida. Machete (yes, machete) in hand, my dad hacked trough the jungle behind his parents’ house, which was just a couple of blocks from the ocean and as he got older, he’d hitchhike to school, knowing every person who gave him a lift. Things are very different now and “old Florida” is increasingly difficult to find.

Orchid Island, once planted with acres and acres of citrus, is now overtaken with high-end housing developments. But there are some glints of Florida’s rural past and one can be found at Schacht Groves, which as been a source for Indian River citrus since the 1950s.

Louis Schacht runs the farm with his mom and dad. The packing house still has its old, wooden sorters and bins. And why not? The vintage equipment works as well today as it did when the grove began. Oranges, grapefruit and Honeybells abound on the family’s farm and thanks to them, a bit of old Florida flavor can still be found on the Treasure Coast.

Louis and Orchid Island Brewery’s Alden Bing grew up together and the brewery reconnected the childhood friends. Alden pays homage to the region’s agricultural heritage by using Indian River citrus in is beers, bridging Vero Beach’s past and its present.

Catherine Neville