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The Importance of 4-H Youth Growing Citrus

By Kristie Popa – UF/IFAS Charlotte County 4-H Agent

OrangesCan you imagine the wonderful smell of the orange blossoms or the vivid orange fruit dangling off of the limbs of a citrus trees?  As you drive through various parts of Charlotte County, you will see some of the 2,179,000 citrus trees in the county.  On those trees which are found on 14,538 acres of Charlotte County land, you will find oranges, grapefruit and specialty citrus galore.  According to the Florida Department of Agriculture’s 2017 Florida Agriculture by Numbers publication, Charlotte County is the 10thlargest producer of citrus fruit in the state of Florida with 2,140,000 boxes of citrus picked in 2017.   With citrus being a large part of Charlotte County, it is important that we educate our youth about its importance.  From the growers to the pickers, processors, and the consumer, each person plays a part in the success of Florida’s citrus industry.

Florida’s citrus industry provides us with delicious fruit which again provides us with the Amazing 5. The Amazing 5 include:

-great taste; both juicy and refreshing

-Vitamin C; an antioxidant that helps keep skin, bones, gums and cartilage healthy and strong.

-Potassium; a nutrient that supports muscle function and maintains the body’s fluid.

-Folate which is important for cell division and supporting healthy red blood cells.

-No sugar added; the only sugar you get from an orange is the natural sugar that comes straight from the orange itself.

In order to celebrate National OJ Day, we would like to remind everyone that Charlotte County 4-H will be hosting a new 4-H Citrus Club this year.  This club will be a year-long club opportunity where youth ages 5-18 will attend educational, hands-on meetings approximately every other month. They will learn about various aspects of the citrus industry all while learning about and raising their own citrus tree.  Youth will be responsible for the care of their tree and the completion of a record book. In addition, youth will create an educational backboard on an aspect of the citrus industry and will write buyer’s letters as the market their project to be sold at the County Fair.

Happy National OJ day and we look forward to educating youth about where their OJ comes from!

Foundation of the Gator Nation – An Equal Opportunity Institution

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