Dr. Karl Benjamin Albritton

/Dr. Karl Benjamin Albritton

Dr. Karl Benjamin Albritton (1900-2002)

Inducted 1995

Highlights

In 1947, Albritton designed and built the packinghouse system and designed the layout for the Albritton Fruit Company, which as of this writing, is still in operation. Albritton originated the idea of opening specialty shops to sell fruit, honey, and fudge, eventually opening seven stores in Sarasota, Venice, Englewood, and Port Charlotte. He worked closely with the local Sarasota Extension Service Office to enhance citrus programs, 4-H and Future Farmers of America and was a key member in the Citrus Growers Inc., which was the forerunner to the Florida Farm Bureau, and worked diligently in chartering the present-day organization.

Albritton Fruit Company

Mediterranean Fruit Fly

Lake Alfred Citrus Research and Education Center

Florida Gift Fruit Company

Bio

Karl Benjamin Albritton was born October 19, 1900. When he was still an infant, his family moved to Sarasota after a devastating freeze destroyed his family’s Polk County citrus groves. There the family began cultivating a twenty-acre tract. Twenty years earlier the Albritton Fruit Company was founded in 1880 by Karl’s grandfather Tom Albritton, a Civil War veteran. At a young age, Albritton worked on the family crop. One of his tasks was to chop the weeds from between the citrus trees. He never graduated from high school, but was admitted to the University of Florida, because of his hands-on knowledge and experience with citrus. Albritten studied agriculture and citrus from 1921 to 1923, and this education and along with his practical farming experience contributed to his efforts in working toward eradicating the Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the 1930s. He worked with researchers in Lake Alfred to monitor and study the fruit fly.

In 1921 Albritton married and he and his wife Edith had three children, John, Robert and Gloria. In 1947, he designed and built the packinghouse system and designed the layout for the Albritton Fruit Company, which as of this writing, is still in operation.

Albritton also designed some of the equipment for the company including the first citrus hedgers. This hedger could be hoisted into trees to cut away branches so that the fruit could be harvested easier. He never got a patent for this popular device, and it is still stored in one of the Albritton barns.

Albritton originated the idea of opening specialty shops to sell fruit, honey, and fudge, eventually opening seven stores in Sarasota, Venice, Englewood, and Port Charlotte. He helped in the organization of the Florida Gift Fruit Shippers Association, eventually serving on its board of directors. The Albritton Fruit Company blossomed from the original twenty-acres into more than 1,600 acres of grove land through his efforts. He served as the president and chairman of the board for many years. The business also owns its own juicing plant and four cattle farms. They grow, pick, process, juice, gift wrap, ship and sell oranges, and use the left over pulp and rinds to feed their cattle. As of 1995 they employed 50 year-round employees in addition to 200 employees during the height of citrus season.

Albritton also devoted himself to numerous public service and philanthropic causes. He was founder and past president of the Sarasota Bay Rotary Club, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow, a member donating $1,000. He was a trustee of the Gillespie School, and a member of Bee Ridge Presbyterian Church. He shared his vast knowledge and experience with many growers and worked closely with the fruit crops department at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

He worked closely with the local Sarasota Extension Service Office to enhance citrus programs, 4-H and Future Farmers of America. He was a key member in the Citrus Growers Inc., which was the forerunner to the Florida Farm Bureau, and worked diligently in chartering the present-day organization. His son, Robert, passed away in 1982. His wife of 67 years died in 1988. He is a member of the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame. Governor Jeb Bush dubbed October 19, 1999, Karl Albritton Day in honor of his 99th birthday. Karl passed away April 13, 2002 at the age of 101.