Mixon Fruit Farms, an Iconic Bradenton Landmark, Is For Sale

After 84 years, the tourist attraction and beloved citrus farm's last 39 acres are on the market for $15.8 million.

By Kim Doleatto February 28, 2023

Mixon Fruit Farms at 2525 27 St. E., in Bradenton.

Mixon Fruit Farms at 2525 27 St. E., in Bradenton.

Image: Victor Guy

The juice topper in your mimosa is getting nearly as expensive as the bubbly beneath. 

Citrus greening and canker, hurricanes, a pandemic, increased costs for essentials like fertilizer and competing produce imports haven't made life easy for citrus growers.

That’s why, after 84 years, the almost 40 remaining acres that make up the family-owned Bradenton landmark Mixon Fruit Farms are on the market for $15.8 million. The 39-acre property includes a residence, storefront, warehouse, barn, pavilion and pastures. It’s located at 2525 27th Street E., between west Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch.

A farmhouse residence on the ground.

The sale includes this residence.

Image: Victor Guy

Janet Mixon, who co-owns the citrus farm with her husband Dean, says, “We feel like we've actually been pushed out. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) brought in disease that killed off everything. Some of our trees were planted in the 1800s. The family replaced 20,000 trees one year, then again another year. Once you plant a tree, it's seven years before you get crops from it."

"After Covid, it got harder to get people to work," she continues. "You can't keep going forward with all of that."

She adds that more recent challenges include insurance rates that have tripled in three years, and the effects of Hurricane Ian leading to the loss of 35 percent of Mixon's orange crop.

According to the USDA, Florida’s citrus production in 2020-2021 was down 21 percent from the previous season. And the forecast for the 2022-2023 season put the industry at roughly half of the production from the 2021-2022 growing season, which already reflected already decades-low numbers. 

“It was one thing after another. We figured God was letting us know it was time,” Mixon says.

Dean Mixon's grandparents, Willie and Rosa, started the farm in 1939 with a fruit stand on the corner of 26th Avenue and 27th Street—dirt roads at the time. Their home used to sit where the shop is today. Rosa would load up her six kids and fruit in the Mixons' truck, go to the Dixie Grande Hotel in Bradenton, "and get rich New Yorkers into delicious local fruit, which led to shipping it to them by train after they left," Janet says.

The couple’s six children all worked in the business, and over the years it grew to include 350 acres of citrus groves, a mail-order service, a processing plant and a retail store.

Aerial view of the almost 40 acres that make up Mixon Fruit Farms.

Image: Victor Guy

The Mixons have fought the changing times for years and gotten creative with their acreage beyond farming, adding a pavilion space for weddings and attractions like a wildlife refuge, a 14,000 square-foot gift shop, a children’s play space and a café. They also recently started growing bamboo, and the farm also produces its own wine and buttercream fudge, in addition to its iconic orange swirl ice cream. Visitors can also take a tram tour of the grounds, where annual family-focused events also take place.

the gazebo at mixon fruit farms in bradenton

The gazebo at Mixon Fruit Farms.

Image: Victor Guy

Over the years, the Mixons also sold off acreage. In 2006, they sold roughly 240 acres of groves on the west side of 27th Street East for $10.8 million to a firm that filled it with a housing development.

“Another 50 acres sold before that, and then 4.5 acres that's now a 7-11. Other than that, all of it is housing now," Janet says, suggesting that rezoning the land agricultural-light industrial use to allow for residential is easy enough.

In fact, national home builders D.R. Horton and Maronda homes are building a gated, master-planned community called Glen Creek across the street to the west of the farm, where homes start at $383,000. A little more than a mile east of the farm, D.R. Horton is spearheading master-planned communities Evergreen and Evergreen Estates, where homes start at $357,000.  

Although the Mixons wish the land could be used for a school or a church, the listing description is a come-hither to developers with an eye for adding more homes in a local market where inventory is still low, demand is still high, and dirt is always finite.

“Calling all developers! Welcome to your dream property, a 39-acre farm that's waiting for you to transform it into something truly special. The possibilities are endless–from residential housing to commercial development, the choice is yours,” the listing reads.

The land is also conveniently close to U.S. 301 and I-75 access and schools, making it all the more attractive. But all that nearby development has also taken a toll, Janet says.

“We were there first. Then you get a school nearby, and they don't want you spraying during the day and then you get a trailer park and they don't want you running the tractor at night," she says. "It's kind of like moving next to the airport and asking them to stop flying planes."

Realtor Selina Bradley, who once sold the Mixons' personal home, is representing them in the sale, and says not one farmer has expressed interest since it was listed. Rather, she's hearing exclusively from developers.

Bradley, a Bradenton native, says the sale is bittersweet. “My parents used to take us there for ice cream, and now I take my kids there to get ice cream or tour the little exhibits with the rescue animals," she says. "My 8-year-old daughter is already crying about the ice cream.”

But there’s good news. The food truck the Mixons are planning is going to carry on. 

The sale is just for the dirt, not the business, “so we’ll keep our name,” Janet says. She plans on opening a food truck, called The Swirl by Mixons, and taking their beloved ice cream on the road.

“It's not for a living. I want to have a good time—something we can do as we want to," she says. "People can check us out on Facebook to see where we are next.” 

The menu sounds ready to go, with comfort food staples like Cubans, BLTs and hot dogs, plus that famous ice cream.  

Janet says that there are now "14 or so" family-owned citrus farms that remain in Florida. "Twenty years ago, there were approximately 350 farmers like us. I’d like people to realize farms are struggling all over." She urges the public to buy from local farms because when consumers buy imported fruit, that means it’s not in season. "It used to be that people were excited for fall and spring because that's when citrus was in, but it's available all year round, so it doesn't matter."  

Until the sale for the farm closes, Janet says she wants to make its last year extra special, with a vow renewal event in January of 2024 for everyone who's been married at the farm. An Easter bunny is coming to paint Easter oranges with visiting kids this year, too.

The store is slated to close on July 29, but booked weddings will be honored through the end of next January. 

"We still want to make good memories while we can," Janet says. "I don’t think it’ll be long before it sells. As a farmer, you learn not to count your chickens before they hatch.”

Interested? Contact Selina Bradley of Coldwell Banker Realty at (941) 565-7233.

Show Comments