Where is Melrose Florida? This is a question that we are asked often. Well, there are a few different ways to answer that, halfway between Gainesville and Palatka, an hour south of Jacksonville or 45 mins north of Ocala. Now days though, a quick google search and map quest directions will bring you straight to our hometown. This is where you will find the best, sweetest, juiciest citrus around. Direct from our grove to your home.
Riddling Groves has been family operated since being established. The grove was first planted in the 70's with 34 Chinese Honey trees by Bill Riddling Sr. and his wife Pearl Riddling . When Sr. was growing up living between Waverly and Winterhaven Florida he spent many days before and after school as well as his summers working in the citrus packing houses, the groves, and delivering newspapers, whatever he could to earn his pay which was 15 to 25 cents per day. We are not certain if it was his early life experience in the citrus industry out of necessity. The memory's brought back by the scent of a grove in full citrus bloom. Or the motivation of his wife Pearl that made him so passionately in love with the Chinese Honeys and the grove that they planted. Whatever it was, it has been nothing less than inspiring. Many days while walking around or riding a tractor through the grove we can hear their whispers of wisdom on the breeze as they come through the trees. They are always missed and we are reminded of them daily here.
The next three generations of citrus growers (Bill Riddling Jr. and wife Stephanie ) along with (John and Cindy Riddling) and daughters fourth generation (Cheyenne Riddling and Laken Jones) have worked to expand the grove to nearly 1000 various citrus trees. During this process we have been very blessed to meet and work with many trustworthy, knowledgeable and genuinely good people. During our expansion and the addition of so many citrus trees it was important that we began to grow successful fast growing stable citrus. Our search through many years of other growers led us to Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery owned and operated by Nate and Anna Jameson . We have had the most success in growth rates and hardiness of stock with the top quality trees we plant from Brite Leaf. The Jameson's nursery is where anyone from small home growers to big commerical groves can go to purchase the best quality trees. Make sure to check them out at https://www.briteleaf.com. Once our tree from Brite Leaf is planted the next thing that gets done is the installation of the Tree T-Pee. We don't plant any new trees without a T-Pee. The Tree T-PEE is a product that has been designed by Johnny Georges (you might have seen him on Shark Tank) it not only protects the trees from frost it is also instrumental for water conservation, rapid tree growth, and minimizes fertilizer runoff, and helps keep effects of fertilizer on the trees and not harming the environment. Please go check out information on this amazing product at http://treetpee.com. As we continue to grow and expand there are two absolutes , we will always plant Brite Leaf trees with a tree T-PEE. Recently we have been working with Joe Pasco owner operator of Royal Manor Meadery and Winery to develop a mead and wine from our Chinese Honeys. We know in the future this will become a reality, but until then go visit them at http://www.royalmanorwinery.com and try the phenomenal selection they have.
We continue to grow and harvest juicy sweet citrus through out the year here at Riddling Groves. Everything we ship is grown, harvested and processed by us here in Melrose, Florida at the grove. We pick every day through the citrus season making certain that your order is always fresh. Harvesting of our Chinese Honeys requires great care, each one has to be individually cut from the tree by hand. This maintains the integrity of the fruit peel , ensuring the fruit inside will remain fresh. It also protects the health of the tree by not leaving a "plug" from the fruit on the end of a branch that could cause disease or pest problems. Since we hand pick all our entire citrus ourselves we are able to monitor the health of the trees individually as they are harvested. After harvest all the fruit is simply washed, and dried before made available for purchase. We do not chemically treat to enhance color or wax our fruit. Each order receives our personal attention so everyday we go through the process of hand harvesting, cleaning and drying ending with hand packing and shipping of your orders. Riddling Groves only sells citrus that has been grown in our groves and we are a USDA approved citrus packing house. We can ship citrus to the Continental US except California.
The Grove has also started a Facebook page to try to keep customers up to date on what we have going on with the different variety's of fruit coming into season and the daily workings of the grove through out the year. https://www.facebook.com/Riddling-Groves-294903064272290/