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  • Writer's pictureSarah Gardiner

The History of Horizon West

It is so lovely to hear Horizon West on the lips of more and more people. What's fascinating is that the ball started rolling over 25 years and it continues to roll. From the adversity of local citrus farmers to the beautiful master planned group of villages we now lovingly call Horizon West. The history of Horizon West which can be found on the Horizon West Magazine website, is a wonderful story (please read below). Click for Sarah's Sunny Snippets.

The Roots of the Past Becomes Fruits for the Future

2020 saw many of us pivoting to new opportunities, but it wasn't the first time the people of Horizon West have adjusted to sudden changes. Thirty years earlier, the citrus growers who owned the land on which Horizon West now sits were dealing with a shocking freeze that devastated the local industry. It was the third of a succession of major freezes throughout the 1980s, leaving growers with no time to recover. Packinghouses and juice processors closed their doors permanently as the industry was forced to move further south. It was the end of an era, with many families having been in the industry for generations.

Jerry Chicone, Jr. had been a citrus grower in west Orange County all his life; his family owned grove land for 60 years by that time. He led the effort to replant after the 1985 freeze, and the 1989-90 crop was going to be the industry's savior. But following shocking, below-freezing temperatures on Christmas weekend in 1989, he told the Orlando Sentinel, "I don't need to prove my love for the citrus industry to anyone. I've invested too much money and effort into replanting after the last freeze... I'm not rushing out to develop my land, but after three freezes in seven years I'm going to take off my white hat and put on my developer's hat." After the 1989 freeze, he started talking about forming an association of west Orange County growers to unite them in a push for development so their land could still be fruitful for their families, but in a new way.

So I like to try and imagine what this area once looked like. I can almost taste the sun-ripened citrus in the air. I've seen groves and orchards in other places so I can imagine the neat rows of trees with oranges ready for juicing. When I read the story, I think of the people tied to that very Florida industry and the years of freezes that devastated a once successful business. Now it's been replaced by development, communities, villages. It's a place were many families call home. Like the neat rows of trees, we have neat rows of homes, filled with people who live, care, grow. I like that. It reminds me that change, while difficult, can be amazing. Maybe what comes after won't be what we had before, and that's fabulous. It not only adds diversity, but it also adds extra facets to our lives and who we are. It's cool to note then, that a lot of street names honor the orchards/groves that they are built on, and it's great to remember our community's roots! If you read through to the end... you are incredible! Keep it sunny everyone!

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