Individuals seeking a family-friendly, socially distanced activity should visit Dooley Groves in Ruskin, which reopened on November 19 for its 53rd citrus season. Diane Houghtaling and her husband, Mike Houghtaling, own the 40-acre orange grove offering U-pick and fruit sales.
Mike is a fifth-generation Florida farmer who loves the business, which was first started 53 years ago by Mike’s grandparents and parents and has been handed down for three generations.
Dooley Groves grows fresh, premium citrus fruits and is the largest U-pick Honeybell grove in Florida, and it offers several other citrus varieties throughout the citrus season too.
To help keep everyone comfortable while at Dooley Groves, the family made some adjustments with the U-pick procedures, how it takes shipping orders and much more.
“We feel that one of the best ideas people can do right now is to be outside in the wide-open spaces, getting vitamin D while getting vitamin C,” Diane said.
This month, people can U-pick Sugarbelles, which is a cross between a clementine, a tangerine and a Honeybell.
Dooley Groves has more than 6,500 Honeybell trees open for U-pick from January through April. For the U-pick, Dooley Groves supplies baskets and clippers. Once the produce gets picked, guests are charged by the pound. During the season, U-pick is open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
In addition to the U-pick citrus, Dooley Groves offers a retail store with local items such as unfiltered orange blossom honey, fruit jams and more. It also makes freshly squeezed orange juice and other products. Furthermore, it can ship fruit all over the United States and Canada.
“There are not many old-time citrus groves and markets left in Florida, none in Hillsborough County quite like Dooley Groves,” Diane said. “For example, we offer fresh picked citrus varieties that most places do not have, like the pink pomelos and more,” she added.
For more information, visit www.dooleygroves.com. It is located at 1651 Stephens Rd. in Ruskin. Call 645-3256.