Orchid Island with Anne Michael
when we used to have grapefruit blossoms here they smelled like sheer heaven and money I am and NB Michael otherwise known as Mrs. Joe Michael I live on Orchid Island my husband and his family grew citrus we don't grow citrus any more since the 2004 double hurricane took it away killed it dead in two weeks living in Illinois is not very close to Florida but I have a cousin first cousin who lives in Vero Beach and he knew my husband Joe and his sister and I came down here to visit one winter and two winters later Joe and I were married and hence I am here in Indian River County since 1950 and I love it I plan on staying in 1887 my husband's grandmother was diagnosed with something that needed warmer climate they were from West Virginia so Joe's grandfather History Eske Michael bought land in Florida sight unseen and when he came down to see it not by plane but by wood-burning train it was under water and on the train there was a man named George King who lived in what is now Indian River County and he suggested that Indian in that area would be a good place to purchase lands and A.B. Michael bought his father's property I believe in nineteen two or nineteen three. A.B. not only took what his father had started and made it flourish but he had a few little odds and ends going on in between time. He was at the age of eighteen, captain of a trade boat that went up and down the Indian River, selling dry goods and flour and grits and sugar and so forth to the very very very few inhabitants along the river. There weren't roads there, weren't bridges across the river. A.B. started his his own first plantings of citrus in nineteen two when he came back to what is now Indian River County from the trade boat. Reason he had success here was mainly because of the soil which was little broken up teeny tiny pieces of seashells and a very very alkaline soil and it was just very warm and the same thing was true of Florida in general for citrus because of the soil which most most of the soil in Florida was better for oranges but this on orchid island was better for grapefruit because of the extreme alkalinity and the trees did not have to send down a taproot they could well they could have set it down but it would have been cut off by the high level of water the water table from the ocean between the ocean and the Indian River these Orchids teeny tiny orchids each flower that's about the size of my thumbnail are currently called Encyclia tampensis commonly known as butterfly orchid those orchids were grown almost entirely on live oak trees throughout orchid island. In the 1960s 70s 80s, probably not quite that early the developers not realizing that these orchids were growing in the live oak trees in clearing the property for their developments just eliminated of the oak trees. Shortly after we built this house in 1957 there were no oak trees here and we really wanted some oak trees so we planted about eight of them not all at once, they all died. When we we were able to get some oak leaves to use as mulch ha ha there were oak acorns in the oak leaves and we must have at least 10 live oaks now that's one reason why we didn't have any orchids growing here naturally the ones that when they were clearing things at the for the Grove if there were
orchids Joe brought them home and I kept them alive until storm surges and hurricanes and so forth took them out have you ever smelled grapefruit blossoms if you've never smelled grapefruit or orange blossoms you just haven't lived I'm trying to think I can't think of anything that
comes even close they're very sweet with a little tartness the fragrance has a little tartness to it but it's everywhere it's just everywhere if your when it doors and windows are open it's just there and it lasts for well not a full month but a strong three weeks because they don't all bloom the same day
Vero Heritage Center Events: Unveiling the Charms of Vero's Citrus History!
The story begins with Anne's serendipitous encounter with her husband's cousin in Vero Beach, leading to a beautiful love story that unfolds over the years. Set in Indian River County since 1950, the Michael family's citrus endeavors began with A.B. Michael, who took the reins from his father and nurtured the citrus groves, overcoming challenges with his entrepreneurial spirit.
Anne's account brings to life the historical backdrop of Florida's citrus industry, where the land's unique alkaline soil on Orchid Island proved ideal for growing grapefruit without taproots. As she describes the delicate Encyclia tampensis orchids that once adorned the island's live oak trees, we learn of the unfortunate fate they faced during property development in the 1960s.
The story delves into the deep love for the land and its bountiful citrus heritage passed down through generations. Anne recounts the sweet, tart fragrance of grapefruit and orange blossoms that filled the air, making the experience truly enchanting. Yet, the devastating hurricanes and storms took a toll on these cherished orchids, but their memories endure in Anne's heart.
Vero Heritage Center's events invite you to celebrate and appreciate the profound connection between Vero's past and present. With engaging workshops, enlightening exhibitions, and cultural celebrations, these events provide a unique opportunity to embrace the spirit of community while cherishing the region's vibrant citrus history.
Join us at the Vero Heritage Center and discover the beauty of Vero's citrus legacy through captivating stories like Anne Michael's. Step into the past and experience the charms that shaped the region's rich heritage, as we come together to honor the legacy of Vero's citrus pioneers. Don't miss out on the chance to be a part of this extraordinary journey into the heart of Vero's history!