Our Growers

We work hard to make the best-tasting fruit juices possible. The same pure, natural way our grandparents did.

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Edwin Friedlander

Lake Wales Citrus Growers Association

Alluding to Lake Wales’ claim of being “The Jewel of the Ridge,” the label shown here is the oldest known version of this brand. The association has been growing Florida citrus since 1919.

Edwin continues to grow citrus on the family farm. He walks or drives his groves on a daily basis.

He also attends classes and seminars on the subject of better stewardship of his groves because he knows his fruit will end up on the tables of other families.


Talk about sentimental… you actually picked up your family home and moved it?
Yes, it’s a 100-year-old ranch. When Dad bought it years ago, it sat across from his department store in downtown Lake Wales. Now it’s out here, looking out over all this land where he bought his first orange groves in the ‘30s.

The whole thing?
Well, a couple of fireplaces didn’t make the trip! But the interior’s intact, and so is the outside.

Tell me about the landscape of your family citrus business. Big changes there?
Oh, yes. Growing costs are up, and the competitive global market is on an unlevel playing field. It’s different every year. You just have to work accordingly, and be resilient.

You spend a lot of time out in the groves.
I do. Always have. I remember applying fertilizer out of my old Volkswagen convertibles! I’m committed to finding eco-friendly solutions to keeping the fruit healthy and fresh. Lots of other growers are, too.

Following in your dad’s footsteps was no guarantee of success.
You know, I was quite pleased with what my father did as a citrus grower. So it was important to continue what he’d started. But a freeze in 1989 damaged every one of our groves. We had to decide—start over, or let it go? I decided to replant more modestly sized groves and see what happened. New trees grew. And now they produce oranges and grapefruit that we market through the Florida's Natural Growers co-op.

How did your family decide to join the cooperative?
When my dad had oranges to sell, in the '30s and '40s, buyers would come to him, make an offer and put our fruit in with others, characteristically purchased at the lowest cost to the buyer. This fruit was mixed and delivered to a packer or a canner. Later, we began to watch the development of new products such as concentrated orange juice, and later, high-quality not-from-concentrate. Some of this development was going on right here in our area through Florida Citrus Canners Cooperative, one of the pioneers that today is known as Florida's Natural Growers.

Producing high-quality juice was always important to your family?
We liked the fact that this fruit was collected from the growers and the juice facility was developed over time under the leadership of grower members who actually owned the trees. This created the pride and teamwork needed to make our product the best. This committee of leaders, being the actual growers, was being very careful and progressive with our product. I have watched these growers who direct the destiny of our fruit with pride.

The citrus industry changes. What doesn’t?
Well, our family legacy, for one. And see Bandit, our dog? She’s from a long line of house dogs we’ve had lounging around our driveway. And, of course, there are the groves. Still standing! And still producing some of Florida’s best citrus, that’s for sure.


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