Marianna, Fla.—Farmer Mack J. Glass’s satsuma citrus feeds school children. His fruit are full of nutrients because they are tree ripened and are only three days old when they get into North Florida School District lunches.
They are ideal for children because they peel easily, have no seeds and come in half-cup portion sizes. He supplies many Farm-to-School programs in North Florida.
You won’t see satsuma (also known as satsuma mandarin) growing in South Florida anytime soon, “They need a cold snap. It shuts the tree down so the fruit can ripen,” said Glass. The season is very short from November to December.
There are only three farms including his growing satsuma citrus in North Florida, “We’d like to see more satsuma farmers so the growing season could be longer.”
Back in the early 1900s there were more Satsuma farmers according to Glass. There were even Satsuma Festivals in 1928, 1929 that attracted over 34,000 visitors. But a freeze in 1935 wiped out 3000 acres of fruit and destroyed the industry.
Glass would like to see the festivals return to the Panhandle.
Glass started his seven-acre Cherokee Satsumas farm back in 2001. He decided satsumas were a better crop to grow than the traditional ones for the area of peanuts, soybeans or corn. At the time a new federal farm program had lowered the price of these crops a lot.
Today, he sometimes finds satsuma farming does not pay enough but he persists, “I do it because I love it. I wake up every morning and see the challenge of it,” said Glass.
Along with supplying fruit to schoolchildren Cherokee Satsumas farm also supplies fruit to Winn Dixie stores around Florida.
To find out more about Cherokee Satsumas farm call (850) 579-4641. But be aware the farm is on Central Time.