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Although he technically is retired, Bill Mixon still works most days at Mixon Fruit Farms. “It’s my life; I enjoy being a farmer,” he says.
East County Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 9 years ago

Neighbors: Bill Mixon

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

As 83-year-old Bill Mixon glances out the window while sitting at his kitchen table, memories from his childhood flood back.

Mixon, who helped his parents start Mixon Fruit Farms in 1939, recently published his memoirs, titled “Believers in Action: Mixon Fruit Farms.” Mixon says his story is one about his vision to make Mixon Fruit Farms a thriving business, his personal and business struggles, he and his wife’s love for one another and how God guided his family over the years.

“I’ve written every bit of it,” Mixon says, noting he started by writing his stories on a legal pad, which a friend from church then typed for him.

He flips through a copy of the book, which is dedicated to his late wife, Mary.

“This is where it started,” he says, gesturing to a photograph of a fruit stand on one of the book’s earliest pages. “That was our first fruit stand.”

Mixon and his family moved to a home on a 56-acre citrus grove when he was 2 years old. He loved playing on the property, and by age 5, he knew he wanted to work the land for his living.

“I always wanted to be a farmer,” Mixon says, grinning. “My dad was a good man, and I followed him around. My dream was some day to have at least 150 acres of grove. I wanted to be able to market every box of fruit (we had). That’s how Mixon’s started. We bought 20 acres from the bank.”

Mixon would come home after school and pick fruit with his mother, Rosa. His father, William, continued working at Manatee Hammock Fruit Co. until 1941, when he decided to focus entirely on his own family’s grove.

“He saw the possibilities,” Mixon says. “He and I worked real close together.”

Mixon had vision of his own and bought a section of grove for himself in high school. He worked land for family and neighbors, as well, and eventually used earnings from his crops to pay for materials to build his own home. He and his childhood sweetheart, Mary, moved into the house shortly after the two were married in July 1949.

“There was no electricity (at first),” he says. “It was all done by hand. We lived in that house 58 years.”

The Mixons worked side by side with his parents over the years, expanding their small grove and a farm stand into a much larger grove with local sales, as well as a thriving mail-order business.

“Mary was one of the most wonderful women I would dream of having in my life,” Mixon says. “She developed so many things — (such as Mixon’s) first mail-order business. We worked hard, and we were very successful.”

Although Mixon has long been “retired,” he still offers his time and energy to help his son and daughter-in-law, Dean and Janet Mixon, with the grove. He never tires of the task, even placing the home he built for his wife several years ago on property, where it would be surrounded by citrus trees.

“Looking out the window and seeing what I’ve been a part of my whole life is very rewarding,” Mixon says. “I never tire of it. I spend a lot of my time helping them. I still work every day, several hours in the grove, or out around the packinghouse.

“It’s my life; I love being a farmer,” he says. “I love seeing things grow.”

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