BY HENRY MAGENHEIM
Reed Travel Features
LOXAHATCHEE -- If agents have repeat Palm Beach County clients
seeking a change of scenery from the Worth Avenue shops, they
should consider contacting Palm Beach County Growing Tours.
The firm offers behind-the-scenes tours of the area's
agricultural industry as well as of environmentally interesting
Among the many things visitors can see up-close is how rice gets
from the paddies in the field into the cardboard boxes on shelves
How sugar cane from area fields eventually reaches consumers is
explained, as well.
The rice business is the full-time activity of the Sem-Chi Rice
Mill near Belle Glade, one of the many stops that the tour firm can
Palm Beach County Growing Tours, formed last December with
county government funding, so far has carried more than 1,000
visitors on its agricultural and ecological trolley tours,
according to Stanley Bronson, acting executive director.
Bronson is on loan to the tour operation from Callery-Judge
citrus groves, west of West Palm Beach, where he is the
In fact, the tour operation is based at the groves, and it is
from there that the trolley tours originate.
At the citrus groves, about two hours of the typical tour are
spent learning about the cultivation of oranges and grapefruit and
what happens to them after they are picked.
Typical rates for individuals age 13 and older are $10 for the
first stop, $8 for the second stop and $5 for each stop thereafter.
Children, ages 4 to 12, pay $7.50, $6 and $3, respectively.
There is a $6 fee per person for a trip to a restaurant -- not
including the cost of the meal.
Palm Beach County Growing Tours is group oriented.
If agents or operators refer a group of 15 or more, net group
rates are extended; they are 20% less than the cost to the
A group also can be picked up from area hotels and motels by one
of the two 27-seat trolleys the firm uses, Bronson said.
The net-rate group tours operate on demand, he said.
The 10 a.m. public tours leave from the grove, Bronson said.
These tours operate Wednesdays and Fridays; agents who refer
individuals will be compensated, Bronson said, adding that
inquiries are welcome.
Richard Howard, a former Sea World of Florida executive, is the
tourism consultant for the operation.
Other staffers consist of three guides who have specialized
knowledge of agriculture, ecology, wildlife and plants.
Another stop is the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve,
where birds and other animals can be viewed.
A visitors center there provides the orientation.
Bronson predicted that demand to see Wakodahathee, a similar
site, will gain as ecotourism grows more popular.
Here, visitors learn how water is reclaimed from a sewage plant
and then dispersed over a marshland thriving with wildlife.
In addition, tropical growers in Wellington and Boynton Beach
explain how gardeners' favorite plants and exotic flowers are
Historical sites will be added to the itinerary choices by May,
Bronson said, once access is arranged to such attractions.
Bronson said that a two-night tour eventually will be packaged
for special-interest groups.
Products from all tour sites can be purchased during the visit
to the groves.
For more information, contact Palm Beach County Growing Tours,
4001 Seminole-Praatt Whitney Road, Loxahatchee, 33470.
The number is (800) 754-7683.