“Just less than one month ago, temperatures were projected to reach their lowest in years throughout Florida. Since my family has only been actively farming at Wonderfield Farm for the past four years, this was one of closest brushes to a “hard freeze” we’ve had. In Florida farming terms, a hard freeze is when temps are projected go under 28 degree Fahrenheit for more than 3 hours – which can cause significant frost damage to plants and trees. We were a little more worried than usual, as we’ve been getting confident with our climate and planted a substantial amount of tropicals, in addition to hundreds of new citrus varieties, in the past two years. We’ve put mangoes, avocados, and guavas in the ground – just to name a few. In our USDA plant hardiness zone, 9a, none of these species are supposed to survive a winter. But, we like to push the envelope and experiment and we have a very special reason to…
When we acquired the property that now comprises Wonderfield Farm and Grove from our good family friends, The Banes, we were made privy to a very special element of the land. The Banes, while tending to their acres of citrus for generations, made good use of a spring fed canal onsite. Knowing the risks of a hard freeze for their crop, they extended the reach of the spring by digging a canal that borders the entire property so that the spring fills this entire canal full of fresh, aquifer water. If you’re not familiar, Florida’s aquifers are about 72 degrees, naturally, year-round. That means they’re cool in the summer and warm in the winter! This spring-fed canal that borders Wonderfield creates a spectacular microclimate for us to enjoy. Those brutal, hot Florida summers are temperate and sweet down by the canal under the canopy of an ancient oak. And those bitter cold winters are made just a little more toasty down by the canal. And our plants are here to tell this story.
During the hard freeze that happened just a few weeks ago we were shocked and humbled by the devastation. Just in our area of Citrus County, Florida – fields that were green, turned brown from just a few hours of too-low temps. Trees absolutely crisped to brown, crunchy, dead leaves. Gardens, groves, and livelihoods devastated.
But down by the swamp, warmed by a little canal thought of and created by our predecessors, Wonderfield was spared!
We had a bit of frost damage in our more high, unprotected areas, but our citrus, mangoes, avocados, bananas and even our jackfruit tree persevered! Green leaves, no severe damage, un-phased. It was actually surprising – it worked! Our microclimate prevailed, and helped keep us warm through the coldest night of the year.
Farming continues to be such humbling work. We are so thankful for our land, the opportunity to steward it, and the chance to learn from the wisdom of nature.”