Short But Sweet
Vero Beach’s brief but fruitful history in the pineapple industry
Workers harvest pineapples in the Indian River region.
Early settlers who pioneered Vero Beach were homesteaders in search of a better life in its warm and healthful climate. Among these homesteaders were a number of Scandinavian immigrant families who claimed land along the high and dry, white sand ridge paralleling Old Dixie Highway south of Vero Beach to what is now Oslo Road.
They found this particular spot to be ideal for growing pineapples — so ideal that it soon became known as Pineapple Ridge and was the hub of an agricultural industry that, for a period of time, overshadowed the citrus crop in the Indian River area.
Established pineapple plantations located in South Florida provided the initial pineapple slips — the tiny plants that grow at the base of a pineapple — that took root in this sandy soil in the early 1900s. Within just 18 months the pineapples were ready to harvest, while the orange and grapefruit trees planted nearby were still several years away from producing a marketable crop. And so the growers sped their faster growing pineapples to the welcoming markets in the north, enabling the families along the ridge to flourish along with the tropical fruit, but only for a short time.