Liquid Gold: The Rise and Fall of Florida Citrus

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If you’re from Florida, then you know how precious citrus is to our state.  I can’t remember a time where we didn’t have fresh orange juice or grapefruit available while growing up. I guess that’s also a perk of living in Fort Pierce – one of the founding areas of citrus in Florida.

And if you’re a Floridian, then you’re probably aware of the state our beloved citrus is in – if you’re not, it’s devastating. Due to the greening disease, our citrus is literally dying before our eyes. A cure hasn’t yet been found, but a lot of research is being done to try and stop it. Especially at the University of Florida, it seems like the IFAS center has dedicated a lot of time and hard work to figure out the disease.

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The Matheson History Museum recently displayed an exhibit titled “Liquid Gold: The Rise and Fall of Florida Citrus.” Kev and I visited the exhibit to learn more about the beautiful beginning of Florida citrus and unfortunately, it’s hideous decline.

The exhibit displayed the timeline of citrus’ start in Florida along with photographs of packing houses, groves and the men & women who helped start it all. They even have comic books of Captain Citrus with the story line of saving Florida’s citrus.

If you’re ever in the Gainesville area, I definitely recommend stopping by the museum. It seems they always have their exhibit on display – the history of Alachua and it’s role in Florida history. You can even take tours of the historical Matheson House that is behind the museum.


Southern Artist Spotlight on Brandon Peebles

I snapped this great picture of Brandon at UF

My first amateur photoshoot with Brandon turned out beautifully

One of my favorite parts of the South is the amazing influence that it seems to have on all aspects of life. From food and style to art and music, it is easy to see its rich influence. I love being able to uncover these hidden influences because it showcases how a culture I hold dear continues to progress throughout time.

I’m so happy to see our generation continue to uphold the traditions of our ancestors and continue the southern legacy. When I first met Brandon Peebles, he resembled the makings of a southern gentleman – kindness, style and manners. When I found out that he was an artist as well, I was thrilled to learn that his southern culture carried over.

Artist at Work

The Orange City native has been able to blend the old with the new – drawing on southern history and modern influences. Peebles takes time to browse through southern history books get a feel for the culture. Country music has also had an influence on his work – especially slow songs that give a peaceful mindset. Nowadays he’s finding that his art is a tribute to the South and the lifestyle that depicts him. “It’s more fun when you have something to draw that relates to a part of your life.”

Artist at work

The University of Florida and its environment have also inspired some of Peebles’ work. You can often find Peebles sitting outside under the oak trees and using the environment for inspiration.

Creativity flows under beautiful oak trees

Creativity flows under beautiful oak trees

Peebles’ hobby has transformed into an endeavor where he is able to give back to the community. He recently volunteered as a Project Makeover art coordinator where he created murals to beautify local schools. These murals provide students with a dynamic and fun environment in which they can better learn.

Brandon sketching an outline for a mural. Photo taken from Project Makeover's Facebook

Brandon sketching an outline for a mural. Photo taken from Project Makeover’s Facebook

The 21-year-old industrial and systems engineer hopes to pursue a job in engineering. But there’s always the thought of doing more that keeps him motivated – “In the back of my mind is the question of what if I did decide to pursue a career in art,” Peebles said.

Sample of Brandon's work

Sample of Brandon’s work

Brandon is such a humble artist who genuinely enjoys exploring his background and incorporating it into art. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for him and his artwork. He has some exciting news coming soon about an upcoming project he’s been working on. His story will continue in a Part 2 post sometime in April.