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FEB 2014


An Industry of Rich History

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February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine


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Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

Bioplex® and Sel-Plex® are registered trademarks of Alltech. Bioplex® and Sel-Plex® are registered trademarks of Alltech.

February 2014

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine


FEB 2014

Departments 16

46 Cover photo submitted by Wish Farms

February Features 24








Moreno Ranches: Investing in Heartland’s Youth Eagle Island Farms By Robbi Sumner






From a Long Line of Farmers: Brian Turner By Dixie Thomas

Florida Row Crops By Ron Lambert and Levi Lambert

Florida Cattlewomen’s Association President Denise Colgan By Robbi Sumner Riding High: Lindsey John By Dixie Thomas

40 52


Heartland’s Fishing Report By Capt. Mark King SW Florida Gulf Coast Fishing Report By Capt. Chris O’Neill February Hunting Spotlight Lyke’s Ranch Youth Dove Hunt Citrus Update: Weathering the Storm By Justin Smith Florida Farming: Strawberry School By Levi Lambert Woman In Ag: Denise Muir By Cindy Cutright Farmer & Rancher: Gary Reeder By Levi Lambert Health Corner: Farm-ecology vs. Pharm-acology By Dr. D. Keatley Waldron Contributions by Beckie Halaska Florida CattleWomen’s Association Recipe: Five-Way Mini Meatloaves

The Annual Cracker Trail Cross-State Ride Article and Photos by Kathy Gregg

100 Years Young and Still Clowning Around By Kathy Gregg

A Series on Literature: Joel Chandler Harris By Brady Vogt


Happenings in the Heartland


Ag Calendar

Look out next month for

Florida Blueberries 6


Travel Feature: Trendy Travel Destinations for 2014 By The Getaway Girl® Casey Wohl

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine


February 2014

Save $2.00 on Adult & $1.00 on Youth General Admission Tickets at Publix Super Markets!



Florida’s Best Family Recipe!

Artists Appearing on the

FEB. 27 - MAR. 9, 2014 • PLANT CITY, FLORIDA


Jimmy Sturr

Thu. Feb. 27, 10:30 FREE

Love and Theft Sat. Mar. 1, 3:30 $15 & $20

Shoji Tabuchi


Thu. Feb. 27, 3:30 $15 & $20

Ronnie Milsap

Thu. Feb. 27, 7:30 $25 & $30

Little Big Town

Thompson Square Sun. Mar. 2, 3:30 $25

Sat. Mar. 1, 7:30 $40

Charley Pride Mon. Mar. 3, 3:30 $15 & $20

Josh Turner Mon. Mar. 3, 7:30 $20 & $25

Lee Brice Wed. Mar. 5, 7:30 $20 & $25

Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Thu. Mar. 6, 10:30 FREE

Brenda Lee Tue. Mar. 4, 3:30 $15 & $20

Fri. Feb. 28, 3:30 $15 & $20

Colt Ford

Fri. Feb. 28, 7:30 $15 & $20

Rascal Flatts “LIVE & LOUD” Tour 2014 Sun. Mar. 2, 7:30 $55

Kellie Pickler Tue. Mar. 4, 7:30 $15 & $20

Oak Ridge Boys 40th Anniversary Tour Thu. Mar. 6, 3:30 $15 & $20

Crystal Gayle Wed. Mar. 5, 3:30 $15 & $20

Third Day Thu. Mar. 6, 7:30 $15 & $20

John Anderson Fri. Mar. 7, 3:30 $15 & $20

Mobile App


Free Grandstand Boyz II Men Fri. Mar. 7, 7:30 $20 & $25

Caroline Kole Sat. Mar. 8, 1:00 FREE

Dustin Lynch Sat. Mar. 8, 3:30 $15 & $20

Jerrod Niemann Sat. Mar. 8, 7:30 $20 & $25

Easton Corbin Sun. Mar. 9, 3:30 $15 & $20

The Band Perry Sun. Mar. 9, 7:30 $40

Seating at 3:30 & 7:30pm is on a first come, first seated basis. Concert dates and times are subject to change

Visit or call 813-754-1996 and get your tickets for the best seats available! While online, check out the Free Entertainment, Midway Specials, Discounted Days, and Full Schedule of Festival Events.

Alessi Bakery • Verizon Wireless • Florida’s Best • Images Everywhere! • CF Industries • Bionic Band AMSCOT • TECO • Stingray Chevrolet • Carolina Carports • Good Health Saunas • Netterfield’s Concessions HERSHEY’S ® • Southern Ford Dealers • Astin Farms • Candyland Warehouse • Florida Blue • 5-hour ENERGY

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine


Publisher Rhonda Glisson Karen Berry Executive Editor Morgan Taylor Norris Business Manager Nadine Glisson Lizette Sarria Art Directors Carrie Evans Olivia Fryer Staff Writers Cindy Cutright Ron Lambert Levi Lambert Brian Norris Justin Smith Robbi Sumner Contributing Writers Capt. Mark King Rusty Hartline Brady Vogt Matt Warren Lindsey Wiggins Kathy Gregg Dr. D. Keatley Waldron, D.C. Casey Wohl Capt. Chris O’Neill Tina Yoder Dixie Thomas Social Media Director Brian Norris Photography Sharon Glisson Kathy Gregg Russell Hancock Nell McAuley Brian Norris Lauren Taylor Holly Taylor Regina Blackman Sydney Yoder Karen Berry


Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

Editor’s Note Last year, Florida celebrated the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of our state. Florida’s agricultural history is just as rich dating back to those first years and we are looking forward to celebrating the impact of Florida Row Crops to the Sunshine State. Did you know that the 2012 value of Florida production for the seven major vegetable crops, berries and watermelons totaled $1.41 billion and Florida was the second leading fresh market vegetable state in the US? This month is all about Florida Row Crops: from strawberries, tomatoes, corn and more. We are featuring some growers from across our area that are making an impact on the industry. Our Farmer & Rancher, Gary Reeder, hails from Manatee County and is a fresh market tomato producer, Brian Turner of Utopia Farms is a fourth-generation farmer in Manatee County and a little unconventional to ‘row crops’ is our Woman in Ag, Denise Muir of Rabbit Run Farms. We have enjoyed spotlighting the variety of crops in just our ten counties and hope you will remember to buy local and thank a farmer for their hard work and food on your table!

We are excited to feature the Florida Cattlewomen this month that do so much for beef and the entire agricultural industry. Manatee County’s Lindsey John was named the Outstanding Cattlewoman of 2013, you can read all about Lindsey’s involvement in the Florida Cattlewomen and in her community on page 58. We are also introducing the new Florida Cattlewomen’s President, Denise Colgan of Okeechobee on page 56. We are so proud of these Heartland women and the outreach and education by the Cattlewomen. If you are visiting the Florida State Fair, stop by their booth, they will be giving out beef samples and nutritional information to fairgoers. On February 16th, the Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen will be taking the cooking stage to demonstrate a beef entrée recipe as well. You won’t want to miss that; all their recipes are delicious! Be sure to visit our Facebook page as we still have giveaways going on for fair tickets including a prize package to see John Anderson at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Enter today at Magazine As always, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a story idea or an event you think we should be covering, please let us know! E-mail me at or give me a call 863.381.8014 We’ll see y’all In the Field,

Heartland in the Field Magazine is published monthly and is available through local businesses, restaurants and other local venues within Hardee, Highlands, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Okeechobee, Lee, Manatee and St. Lucie Counties. Letters, comments and questions can be sent to Heartland In the Field Magazine, P.O. Box 3183 Plant City, FL. 33563 or you are welcome to e-mail them to or call 813-708-3661. Advertisers warrant & represent the description of their products advertised are true in all respects. Heartland In the Field Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by their advertisers. All views expressed in all articles are those of the authors and not necessarily those of G Five Publications, Inc. Any use or duplication of material used in Heartland In the Field Magazine is prohibited without written consent from Berry Publications and G Five. All contents Copyright 2014. No part of this work may be copied, transmitted, reproduced or reprinted without the express written consent of the publisher. Annual subscriptions to receive Heartland A Way of Life at your home or business is $25 annually. For advertising, subscriptions or editorial questions please call 813-708-3661 or email Heartland® A Way Of Life In The Field publication has been in print since 2008.

February 2014

Fresh From Florida: Nurturing Success. Growing the Future.

Spivey Family Farm Stephen, Zachary, and David 2013 Fresh From Florida Members The Florida Strawberry Growers Association joined the Fresh From Florida program on behalf of all of its members. “We joined Fresh From Florida because the program supports our best interests and the interests of all producers in the state. We’re proud to be Florida strawberry growers.” – David Spivey

For more information on member benefits visit or call (850) 617-7399.

FEB 2014

Index of Advertisers 55

Agro Culture

53 Griffin’s Carpet Mart

62 Quality Liquid Feed


Arcadia Rodeo

21 Hardee County Fair

67 Quality Liquid Feed


Arcadia Stockyard

31 Helena Chemical

23 Quail Creek Plantation


Bankers South

70 Hicks Oil Company

55 River Pasture Metal Art


Big T Tire

45 Higgenbotham Auctioneers

71 Seedway


Big ‘O’ Birding Fest

53 Highlands County Fair

82 Seminole Tribe of Florida


Cattlemen’s Livestock

13 Highlands County Farm Bureau

50 Southern Excavation


Center State Bank

27 Howard Fertilizer

80 Spring Lake Hardware


Central States Enterprises

26 Joshua Citrus

22 Spurlows Outdoor


Chalo Nitka Festival

11 Keyplex

26 St. Lucie County Fair


Creel Tractor

80 Labelle Feed

15 Stoller USA


Cross Ties

66 Labelle Rodeo

80 Superior Muffler


David Clark Shoe Repair

38 Lee & Associates

51 Taylor Oil Company


Desoto Machine Shop

39 Lee County Fair

71 The Andersons


Duke Citrus

51 Marmer Construction

85 Tree T Pee


Everglades Farm Equipment

80 Michael G. Kirsch

38 Trinkle Redman Coton


Farm Credit


41 Wallenstein of Florida


Florida Dept of Ag

59 Moreno Ranches

71 Walpole Feed

31 Florida Fence Post

26 Mosaic

19 Walt Bethel Real Estate

83 Florida Hospital Foundation

39 Newton Crouch

88 Watering Hole



30 Wauchula State Bank

Florida Strawberry Festival

Moreno Ranches

Pathway Agriculture

78 Glades Electric

81 Peace River Bees

71 Wicks, Brown, Williams CPA

30 Glade and Grove Supply

28 Peace River Citrus

80 Winfield Solutions

86 Glisson’s Animal Supply

31 Petteway Citrus and Cattle

19 Yetti Outfitters

Sales Team Highlands

Morgan Norris


Tina Yoder

Hardee & Desoto


Robbi Sumner

Levi Lambert

10 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

Morgan Norris

Ron Brown

Lee and Hendry

Cindy Cutright

Okeechobee, Glades & St. Lucie

Robbi Sumner

February 2014

Corporate, Polk & Hillsborough

Danny Crampton

Morgan Norris

Rhonda Glisson

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 11



1278 SE US HIGHWAY 31 • ARCADIA, FL 34266

1017 US HIGHWAY 17 N • WAUCHULA, FL. 33873

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 863.494.3636 Charlotte Line: 941.624.3981 • Fax: 863.494.4332

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 863. 773. 3117 Fax: 863. 773. 2369




President…………....Jim Selph Vice President……….Jeffrey Adams Sec./Treasurer...... Matt Harrison

DIRECTORS FOR 2012-2013 Jim Brewer John Burtscher Mike Carter Steve Fussell

Lindsay Harrington Richard E. Harvin Ann H. Ryals Mac Turner

Bryan K. Beswick Ken Harrison


President……David B. Royal Vice President…Greg L. Shackelford Sec./Treasurer……..Bo Rich

DIRECTORS FOR 2012-2013 Joseph B. Cherry Corey Lambert Daniel H. Smith

Steve A. Johnson Bill Hodge David B. Royal

Greg L. Shackelford Bo Rich Scott Henderson

Federation Secretary Mary Jo Spicer

Federation Secretary Rhonda Willis





6419 US HIGHWAY 27 S. • SEBRING, FL 33876

5620 TARA BLVD, STE 101 • BRADENTON, FL 34203

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 863. 385. 5141 • Fax: 863. 385. 5356 Website:

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 941-746-6161 • Fax: 941-739-7846 Website:



Agency Manager: Cameron N. Jolly Agents: Dawn A. Hines, Clint Brown


President………Scott Kirouac Vice President…Doug Miller Secretary………..Carey Howerton Treasurer……..Frank Youngman

DIRECTORS FOR 2012-2013 Sam Bronson Steve Farr Charles Guerndt

Charles Lanfier Mike Milicevic Emma Reynolds

Trey Whitehurst Jeff Williams Marty Wohl

Agency Manager: N. Jay Bryan Agents: George L. Wadsworth, Jr.


President……Gary Reeder Vice President…Jim Parks Secretary……..Ben King Treasurer……..Robert Zeliff

DIRECTORS FOR 2012-2013 Carlos Blanco Gary Bradshaw Jerry Dakin Ralph Garrison

Ken Hawkins Alan Jones Vick Keen Bruce Shackelford

Jim Strickland Hugh Taylor Dan West

Federation Secretary Janet Menges

Federation Secretary Christie Hinson



Agency Manager: Chad D. McWaters Agents: Joseph W. Bullington

12 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

Agency Manager: Branden Bunch Agents: Doug Dierdorf, Mike Shannon

February 2014


District 6 Update From the Desk of Andy Neuhofer

Thank You... To Highlands County Farm Bureu’s Heritage Sponsors

This past month, the American Farm Bureau Federation held their 95th annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Florida was well represented with all of the voting delegates and many more members attending the convention.

Young Farmers and Ranchers Jacob and Danielle Larson of Okeechobee County placed as a runner-up in the Achievement Award. Kylie and Nick Larsen (no relation) of Western Palm Beach County placed in the top 10 for the Excellence in Agriculture Award. Amanda James of Union County participated in the Discussion Meet.

There were many seminars regarding the current state of American agriculture and future predictions of various commodity markets were made. The women of Farm Bureau held their annual committee meeting as well.

Reports were given, two keynote speakers gave presentations, fundraising for the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture took place and awards were presented. Florida Farm Bureau Federation received six Excellence in Agriculture awards and the Pinnacle award. The Pinnacle award is the culmination of work throughout the year by many members across our state and demonstrates we are one of the best Farm Bureaus in the nation.

More than 5,000 people from across the country attended as did some international guests. The trade show highlighted various county Farm Bureau programs and products used by agriculturalists. Information regarding trade with Canada and Europe was available.

The voting delegates reviewed, discussed and voted on hundreds of policy resolutions to determine Farm Bureau policy for 2014.

After the meetings and seminars, the Board of Directors met to discuss and approve a strategic plan to implement policy for this year. The plan highlights the issues where success is obtainable this year. The points include agricultural labor reform, support for renewable fuel, support for biotechnology, protecting farmer’s interest in regards to technology and data compilation, opposition to expanded regulatory authority by the EPA, protecting farmer and rancher interest regarding policy and tax issues. The convention was educational and provided opportunities for producers to visit with each other throughout the event.

February 2014

Please support these businesses! Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 13

Achievement in Agriculture runners-up Jacob and Danielle Larson (far left) with AFBF President Bob Stallman, Zack Hetterick of Case IH and Roger Phelps of STIHL.


Okeechobee County’s Jacob and Danielle Larson were among the top finalists in the nation at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Meeting this week when they were named runnersup in the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award competition in San Antonio.

The award program recognizes young farmers and ranchers from across the country who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on their farm operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau participation and community leadership.

The Larsons are third generation dairy farmers responsible for the management of a 2,700-acre cow dairy farm and a 1,350-acre beef cattle ranch operation. As the runners-up of this national competition, Jacob and Danielle will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STHIL.

14 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State’s largest general agricultural organization with more than 147,000 member-families representing Farm Bureaus in 60 counties. Membership provides a multitude of benefits and you don’t have to be a farmer to be a member of Florida Farm Bureau. For information on Florida Farm Bureau, visit www. February 2014

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Unleashing the Power of Plants



By The Getaway Girl® Casey Wohl

Every year, The Getaway Girl® Casey Wohl provides a sneak peek of the trendiest destinations for travel. And 2014 has some interesting picks. Here are her top three places to go this year.


Louisville, Kentucky is a hot spot any year, but with recent growth, 2014 will be the best yet! With it being centrally located, Louisville is easy to get to for most Americans. As always, the Kentucky Derby is a must! Where else can you enjoy a day of great fashion, Mint Juleps and fun during the most exciting two minutes in sports? Due to the city’s talented chefs, inspired culinary culture and farm-to-table movement, Louisville has received several food recognitions and awards, including: • “Best Foodie Getaways Around the World” by Zagat, the only North America city included • “The South’s Tastiest Towns” (Southern Living in 2012 and 2013) • “Best American Small Towns for Foodies” (BootsnAll)

16 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

• “10 Best College Towns for True Foodies” ( • “Top 5 Foodiest Small Towns” by Bon Apetit (2008 & 2010)

Bourbon is hot right now, but Kentucky bourbon is on fire! With a recent article in Vanity Fair, it’s worth a trip to experience the real deal in bourbon. Choose the city route with the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville’s trendy bars and restaurants, or travel through history with the Bourbon Trail, which features historic distilleries, like Buffalo Trace, which produces the famously elusive Pappy Van Winkle. And the Distilled Spirits Epicenter lets aspiring entrepreneurs learn how to open a distillery, and enthusiasts can take fun classes on bourbon, moonshine and more. The educational February 2014

facility opened in Spring 2012 to satisfy the need for training as up and coming bourbon makers put their plans into action. The center is the educational partner of the Kentucky Distillers Association, and new distillers Peerless. The Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners have both trained there.

the white quartz sand beaches--Riga is right on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Where is Latvia, you ask? In Northern Europe bordered by Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Belarus and the Baltic Sea. It is the least populated European country, and the country does use the Euro, which makes currency exchange very easy, especially if you take the time to visit other European countries while you are across the pond.


For the Person Who Has Traveled Everywhere


For the Culture Lovers

See this European Capital of Culture before everyone else gets hip to it. Now is the time to immerse yourself in culture in Riga, Latvia, where theater thrives and Art Nouveau buildings are abundant. In 2014, the European Union will officially dub the city the European Capital of Culture. It’s a well-earned title: The city’s Art Nouveau buildings, concentrated in the city’s center, have garnered Riga UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Old Riga is ideal for architecturescouting: The spires of numerous churches reach into the sky, such as the landmark medieval Riga Cathedral (famous for its 6,718-pipe organ) and St. Peter’s Church, which combines Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque styles. Consider popping into the Latvian National Opera building for a ballet, choral performance, or, yes, an opera. For something totally different, spend time on February 2014

Visiting Antarctica is not for the faint of heart. But if you have traveled everywhere and are still itching to see new places, Antarctica should be on your list for 2014. Why will it be a 2014 trendy destination? For a few reasons, first Prince Harry is visiting Antarctica this year, so there will be lots of buzz surrounding his visit to the seventh continent. Where else can you see up to seven species of penguins, five species of seals and three species of whales in their natural habitat? 
In honor of the expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott to explore Antarctica, Quark Expeditions will recreate these trips with descendants of these two notable explorers.

The best time to visit Antarctica is November – March. Expect to pay around $5,000 for your trip. Most people travel by ship from Argentina. There are some flights available but they tend to be quite pricey. Shore visits are three hours or less and no more than 100 people at one time. The warmest of cold weather clothing is strongly advised.

Wohl is the Travel Correspondent for the nationally-syndicated TV show, Daytime. She also owns and manages Gray Dog Communications, a strategic marketing, public relations and branding company with clients in industries such as travel, non-profit, agriculture, economic development and real estate. For more information, visit

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 17



Captian Mark King

ebruary is going to be another awesome month here on Lake Okeechobee for fishing. The fishing the past month has been great even with the cold fronts coming through the area one after another dropping the temperature in to the thirties a couple times. I know that doesn’t sound cold to the rest of the country, but here in south Florida it is cold. We have been catching a lot of bass, some really nice ones up to ten pounds.

The fishing on live bait has been much better then artificial lures, but as this weather stabilizes in February and on into March, the artificial lure bite will get much better. For now, catching up to fifty bass a day has been common as long as the cold fronts leave us alone. I have been fishing a lot of areas from the Monkey Box down to Kramer Island with the wind being the deciding factor as to where I go. The area from Cochran’s Pass to Uncle Joe’s has been pretty good, but should get really good soon as more and more bait and bass are moving in from offshore to the grass.

We are seeing spawning beds back in a lot of areas and if the water doesn’t go down too quick, we should have a good spawn back in areas where the water is clean and you can see the beds to fish. If the water continues to drop, the bass will be spawning on the outside grass line like they did last year. Areas I have been targeting with artificial lures have been the North Shore area in the scattered hydrilla and peppergrass patches, East Wall, and around Uncle Joe’s Cut at the lake end. I have been throwing a variety of lures like Gambler’s new Burner Worm, Big EZ, and Aces. But I have also caught some bass on spinnerbaits and swim jigs along the outside grass line when the wind isn’t blowing too hard.

The fishing has been improving almost daily and I can hardly wait till the next day to see how good the fishing is going to be. February and March are two of the best months to fish here on Lake Okeechobee for both numbers and big fish. If you have ever wanted to experience Lake Okeechobee at its best, then now is the time to get on down here out of the cold and warm your bones and catch some monster bass. The crappie bite has also been pretty good out of the Clewiston area with both jigs and minnows working well. I will be on the lake guiding through April and then I switch gears and head down to the Florida Keys to guide for the monster tarpon in May and June. Now is the time to get a trip for either Lake Okeechobee trophy bass or monster tarpon in the Florida Keys booked. Good luck, tight lines, and hope to see everyone on the water soon.

Captain Mark King

is a full time guide and tournament angler guiding out of the world famous Roland Martin’s Marina and Resort in Clewiston Florida and also in the Florida Keys out of Marathon area. Mark is an IGFA Certified Captain, active member of the Florida Guide Association and the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Captain Mark is sponsored by Bass Pro Shops, Evinrude Outboards, Roland Martin’s Marine Center, Power-Pole, Minn Kota Trolling Motors, Gambler Lures, 13Fishing Rods, Hoffmann’s Lures, Mojo Sportsfishing, Smartshield Sun Protection Products, Moon Shine Attitude Attire, TFO Fly Rods, and Yeti coolers. Mark can be contacted to book a guide trip, seminars, personal appearances, test rides in his Evinrude powered Ranger or to fish a tournament with him at 863-677-0983 or at and www.

Roland Martin Marine Center is a full service marina including boat, motor, and tackle sales and boat and motor service by one of the top service crews in South Florida. Are you looking for a new or used Ranger boat or maybe you just need a new outboard to put on a boat you already have well than a new Evinrude E-Tec would put you right back out on the water. They have the hottest tackle on the market in the story with names like Gambler, Reaction Innovation, Charlie’s Worms, Duckett rods, Lews Reels, and Live Target Kopper. They also have all your boating needs from oils to anchors and everything in between. With two full time mechanics and a fully stocked parts room getting your boat back out on the water will be no problem. They also have minnows, worms, crickets, sodas, beer, and ice at all times. If you are looking for a one stop marina than Roland Martin Marine Center is the place to go. They are conveniently located just before the ramp in Clewiston on world famous Lake Okeechobee. Stop in and see my wife Diane in the parts department and she just might give away a few of my fishing spots.

18 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

February 2014

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 19



By Captain Chris O’Neill


inter fishing season has changed not only what species we are targeting on our daily charters, but also the strategies in catching them. Gulf of Mexico and inshore bay and river water temperatures have plummeted toward the 60-degree mark and below and will remain consistently in that area until March, when our next seasonal climate and migrational changes will occur. Until then, we need to slow our bait presentation and downsize our tackle for maximum results both inshore and offshore.

Inshore anglers should put watching the weather and wind direction as a top priority for choosing their bay and backwater fishing locations. The typical wind pattern during the winter solstice is a north or northeasterly blow, which is a natural phenomenon that pushes the already weaker predicted winter tide ranges to sometimes unsafe depths and it should be a major consideration when fishing certain areas that you may be accustomed too. In other words, at certain times during winter cold fronts and associated higher northerly/northeasterly winds, it will push water out or actually prevent the predicted inflow from ever reaching the predicted depths on the west coast of Florida. Nothing is worse than heading out for your favorite backcountry honey hole and find it high and dry or inaccessible due to low water. Sometimes all of the mentioned can be used to your advantage. When water pours out of any estuary, so goes the available bait supplies and the predator fish will not be far behind. I like to target troughs, creekmouths, and deeper areas that are near or adjacent to shallow areas. Generally, the water temperature will be a degree or two warmer and will attract bait and fish in search of a warmer area to occupy.

Nearshore fishing has been our go-to choice when “grocery fishing”. Anglers in search of a fresh fish dinner can easily go to your nearest reef or bottom structure and harvest their limit of sheepshead. Sheepshead are fun to catch and relatively easy to score for any skill level angler. My technique when targeting “sheepies” is very simple. I like to use a chartreuse 1 ounce stout

20 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

jig head with a fresh half cut piece of shrimp tail threaded onto the hook. I use this method because sheepshead are what I describe as professionally trained bait thieves that will rob your offering if you give them too much to pull on. If properly baited, the fish must go through the baited hook portion to feed and you’re less likely to lose your bait. Flounder will also begin showing up this month as they begin to spawn. Working a knocker-style rig or a jig head slowly on the bottom with a live shrimp or baitfish will get you hooked up to a flatty almost every time.

Offshore fishing has been excellent this winter. We have done extremely well over the past few weeks on red grouper. Working natural hard bottom areas is always the key for finding reds this time of year. They typically huddle up in the limestone bottom holes and drifting with cut baitfish like jacks, mullet, sardines and others is your best choice. Covering as much bottom as possible will maximize your results. Mangrove and snapper species, as well as sheepshead are also a consideration when anchoring over your favorite man made reef or wreck. Heavy chumming will do the trick, as well as using smaller terminal tackle to prevent spooking. Drifting back live free-lined shrimp into the chum slick will almost always ensure positive results with this style of fishing.

Booking a charter this time of year is a great opportunity to spend the day “catching”. My company offers inshore and offshore charters with a team of world-class guides to satisfy your private or corporate fishing needs. All of my guests receive complementary Tail Chaser t-shirts as well as the best service in the business.

Captain Chris O’Neill

is a full time fishing guide and host of The Reel Saltwater Outdoors radio show. Captain Chris is regularly seen on TV shows like Big Water Adventures, Florida Sportsman, Mark Sosin’s Saltwater Journal and others. As a retired U.S. Army hovercraft pilot, he has accrued over 25 years of saltwater experience and has targeted gamefish around the globe. His Reel Saltwater Outdoors Seminar Series has become the largest in the state and he speaks to thousands of anglers annually. His passion for fishing is contagious and you can always expect to have a great adventure when fishing onboard the Tail Chaser. To book a charter visit www.tailchasercharters. com or for more information. You can listen to his FISH ON FRIDAY radio show via www.wengradio. com or the WENG app from 4-6pm weekly. Capt. Chris operates out of the world-class Gasparilla Marina in Placida, FL, just minutes from Boca Grande Pass (the tarpon capital of the world) and Charlotte Harbor.

February 2014

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 21

February’s Hunting Spotlight brought to you by Spurlow’s Outdoor Outfitters 1 East Wall Street Frostproof, FL 33843 863-635-0240

Lykes Ranch Hosts Youth Dove Shoot January 11, 2014

Photos by Linda McCarthy, Lykes Bros., Inc.

Submit your children’s hunting pictures for the Monthly Hunting Spotlight to


setting at its finest!

Whether it’s just for fun or mixing a little business with pleasure, Quail Creek Plantation awards the prize when it comes to an outdoor paradise for hunting and fishing. Shoot some sporting clays to warm up before finding the covey on a guided hunt for upland birds. Finish the day with a pole and go angling for that big fish to talk about later. Kick back and enjoy the Quail Creek Lodge and dine on fried quail for lunch, or have our gourmet chefs help you plan a special dinner for a fundraiser or private event at Quail Creek Plantation. WEDDINGS || CONFERENCES || FUNDRAISERS/BANQUETS || SPORTING CLAYS 12399 Northeast 224th Street • Okeechobee, Florida 34972 • 863-763-2529 •

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 23


Investing in the Heartland’s Youth


he Moreno family roots begin in early Spain and their genealogy can be traced as far back as 1100 A.D. During the 1800s, like many restless European settlers, the Moreno family placed their hopes and dreams on Cuba. Enamored with the culture and tradition of their new homeland, they were quickly able to cultivate a passion for the agriculture industry. The family invested hard work into sugar cane and tobacco plantations, as well as honey bee farms, and began thriving cattle operations at Moreno Ranches. Three generations of cattlemen and women rose from this Cuban paradise.

The Moreno family had always respected and admired the American agriculture industry. Inspired by the American Dream and the opportunities they knew would result from their value of discipline, ambition, and hard work, they set their eyes and hearts on the United States. In 1992, the family moved their enterprise to the neighboring United States, settling in Miami. In Florida, the Moreno family found a growing, family-driven industry that shared many of their own core values and beliefs regarding cattle management using the latest technologies.

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Much has changed since Old Cuba for the Moreno family. Today, the Moreno family has a grand vision for the future of the American cattle industry that stems from the basic work ethic, traditions, and disciplines of their first Cuban generations.

Currently, Moreno Ranches runs registered Brahman seedstock and cow/calf operations in Highlands County, Florida. The ranch is home to the only full-service genetics center in the Southeast, which specializes in in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfers, and artificial inseminations. Moreno Ranches and its divisions are accredited by the American Brahman Breeders Association and the American Embryo Transfer Association. Recently, Moreno Ranches has seen an importance to really invest in the youth in this industry. When it comes to junior showmen, there are few as dedicated as Moreno Ranches. They feel that junior exhibitors are truly the future of the Brahman breed and are committed to assisting them in any way possible. The ranch has three programs in place to help juniors to be successful in the breed including a scholarship program, a breed back program and a sell back program. February 2014


If a junior exhibitor buys a heifer from Moreno Ranches, they are committed to assist the junior in breeding the heifer when she is of age. Heifers can be brought back to the ranch and they will A.I. or naturally breed the heifer to one of their herd sires at no cost to the junior. To qualify for this program, the cattle must be insured.

The two-day event hosted showmanship on Friday night including a Pee Wee showmanship class. Eight little ones participated, with help in the ring, and they all ‘won’ a Pee Wee buckle to show off.

The Heartland Classic will be an annual show on the first weekend in December and is a great practice before show season kicks off. If you have a junior showman, it is a must to attend! Be sure to mark your calendar for the 2014 event!

Through these youth programs along with many other ventures on the ranch, Kelvin Moreno, passionate advocate for the American cattle industry, is proud to continue his family’s traditions and carry the family name into a new generation of American agriculturalists and cattlemen and women. For more information on Moreno Ranches, visit www. or call 305-218-1238.


This program gives juniors an opportunity to sell their heifer when she is 2-3 years old in Moreno Ranches’ annual production sale. In order to qualify for this program, heifers must be bred or have a calf at side at the time of the sale. The sale management team must approve consignment prior to the sale and Moreno Ranches is responsible for all marketing.


The Moreno Ranches Junior Scholarship Program is designed to help America’s youth to continue their education by enrolling in undergraduate courses of studies at an accredited two or four year college, university or vocational-technical school. This is a great program for the juniors to earn money for college just by excelling in shows and the more shows they are in, the bigger the scholarships that are available. This is a perfect example of Moreno Ranches giving back to the youth and encouraging them to excel in this industry.


In December of 2013, Moreno Ranches hosted their first Heartland Classic show at their ranch in Venus. Kelvin Moreno said they wanted to create a show that would help provide an opportunity for the youth to practice and have an outlet other than the annual county fair. The Classic was quite a success for the first year with a full barn hosting 51 junior showman and 76 head of cattle. There were several classes including Commercial Heifer, Commercial Steer, Commercial Bull, Brahman Influence Steer and Brahman. “We wanted this to not just be for kids buying and showing our genetics, but a show for everyone,” said Kelvin.

February 2014

“Kelvin Moreno and Moreno Ranches run a first class operation. Their attention to every detail has made all of our experiences with them a pleasure.” -Stacey Panero, Indiantown, Florida

“I’ve known Mr. Moreno for two years and in this short time, he has taught me many things about the commercial and purebred Brahman industries. He is the head of our Jr. Brahman Association and time after time has gone out of his way to help not only myself, but also many of his juniors. If it wasn’t for his help, myself as well as a few of the other juniors, would not have had the opportunity to have gone to the national show in Lufkin, Texas. I know that any time I need advice on my cattle herd, Mr. Moreno is the first person I will call!” -Cole Newman, Lake Wales, Florida

“As a veterinarian, I can testify to the quality of cattle Moreno Ranches is putting in the Brahman marketplace. I have found the breeding quality is superior as well as the temperament and the bloodlines of the cattle they select to be magnificent. It is like they are bred to know what to do. They do well at sale, at shows and at home; “Dorito” [1,800 pound big red bull] is part of our family. Kylie is only 75 pounds and ten years old, but can handle “Dorito” without a problem. Because of that, she enjoys showing and wants to stay involved. Kelvin is very supportive of the youth in the cattle industry as whole and has a genuine interest in seeing the youth succeed.” -Wendy Perra, Labelle, Florida

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 25

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26 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

February 2014

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 27

by Justin Smith


Weathering the Storm For the Florida Citrus Industry, this season is shaping up to be just as perplexing as ever. The harvest time is nearing its halfway point for the 2013-2014 period and the totals are falling dramatically short of expectations. As of January, the USDA had dropped the citrus estimate by almost 15 million

boxes. Most growers are experiencing a 20 to 30% reduction in their average crop size. At this point, the total Florida Crop is estimated to be 115 million boxes. Florida citrus growers have not seen numbers this low in a quarter of a century.

The last time production fell to such low numbers there was a freeze to blame. The 1989 freeze was one of the worst for the industry and many growers were out of business in one night. This time, there is no weather event or one time reason but rather, a state wide pandemic. Yes, it is that very ugly little word that no one likes to hear, greening. This seemingly unstoppable foe continues to pound the industry over and over again. For a few years, growers had been able to keep trees in production by spraying increased nutritional concoctions. The theory has been to provide everything the tree needs in an attempt to keep stress down. This practice has been buying some time to allow researchers to develop longer-term solutions. However, the nutritional therapy may be showing signs that its effectiveness is decreasing.

Last year, the 2012-2013 season, there was an unanticipated and sudden fruit drop. This year, that same drop is occurring and many are starting to believe it is the sign of a trend and not an isolated event. Also, much of the lower production is due to fruit size and not the lack of fruit pieces. The possibility that this too could be “the new norm” is very disturbing. This fruit is not only smaller, but also not quite to the same quality, which is a key component of Florida Citrus.

28 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

So, is there any silver lining or is the industry just doomed at this point? The short answer, and it is very short, is that it’s not time to completely give up. The one good thing for growers February 2014

Loans to fit your lifestyle.

is the return price is up from last year. This is due to the lack of total harvest, thereby making the fruit more valuable. Another hopeful prospect is funding. The State began recognizing the need for research and added budgeted money to the endeavor last year, and this year the Federal government has done the same. Thanks to Congressman Rooney, there is another $20 million on its way.

Many are beginning to see, and feel, the damaging effects of an industry in trouble. As Florida’s second largest economic producer it could be completely devastating to the state if the citrus industry just simply disappeared. There are many businesses and families who rely on it and therefore is not something that can simply fall by the wayside quietly, and not cause any repercussions. One thing is for sure, the history of the industry has shown real resilience. There have been many times the industry has overcome some extreme odds and there is no doubt this is the biggest yet. The generational drive and determination is showing through as this storm is being weathered by the best.

February 2014

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Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 29

30 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

February 2014



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February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 31


Strawberry School Starts Tomorrow By Levi Lambert

Sounds and smells filled the house. Crackles and pops put the smell of a country breakfast in the air as the bacon from the smokehouse cooked on the wood stove. Tom Jr. opened his eyes in the early morning as usual. Knowing a fine meal will soon be on the table next to a glass of milk from the cow he was under the day before. He rolled out of bed a bit easier this morning, since there will be fresh baked biscuits steaming and ready to be dipped into some of the cane syrup Pa brought home after helping Mr. Williams grind sugar cane last week. Besides, if he didn’t start to move around he knew his bossy sister would sure tell him to get up soon.

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One thing Tom Jr. didn’t like was the feel of the icy cold chill from his bare feet on the wood floor. The morning chill seemed to fill the empty room even more after his older brother left to go overseas with the Army, and since his room is so far away from the fireplace. He let out a groan of disappointment because next Monday would be the first day of Strawberry School. His two sisters and him would be out in the strawberry patch every morning after their chores: feed the mule and chickens, milk the cows.

February 2014

Tom Jr. grew up around the farm. His father was a farmer who had never wanted to do anything else. Tom was too young to remember anything about their home in Alabama. His parents left to move down to Florida due to the bad times during the depression. Tom Jr. was only one year old when they moved. His sister was three and his older brother was eight. His little sister was born right at home in the farmhouse on the Florida countryside.

Tom’s father was a tall thin man who seemed to have a knack for making a crop grow as well or better than most of the other truck farmers in the community. He was the best when it came to handling a mule pulled plow. As far back as Tom Jr. could remember there was a big garden growing in the spring and fall, a patch of strawberries in the winter and a field of watermelons in the summer. Tom and his sisters started to attend the country school known as Tangerine Creek. Every December, the school would close so that the kids would be able to help pick strawberries. A good crop of strawberries meant a real good bit of money would come from the northern market. This year, Tom Sr. had a fine strawberry patch. The weather has been favorable and the robins didn’t get too bad. Some years, the varmints would peck any sign of the color red along the row.

This is a brief account of the life of a family in rural Hardee County in the 1940s. It is founded on fact-based stories related to me from my father’s father. Truck farming began in Florida, and was the basis for supplying the majority of winter vegetables to the northern markets. Many rural schools in Florida adopted a schedule that allowed farm children to be out of school in December and January during the peak of strawberry season. They were needed to help with the harvest of this important, often vital crop to their family’s income. The schools would then be open throughout the summer months. The strawberry school schedule started in 1928 and continued until 1954. This had a part in the early days of development of Florida’s agriculture in row crop farming.

On this particular Saturday morning, Tom Sr. told Tom Jr. and his sisters that the berry field needed to be picked as soon as they could. Mr. Ferguson had sent word that he would buy every pint of strawberries delivered to his packinghouse by 2:00pm Saturday. Even more attractive was the word that the price was the highest he had seen in three years. Tom’s father told them that after the berries were on the truck they could pick tangerines to take to the highway, and sell them to soldiers going by in trucks to the training fields in Avon Park or Sebring.

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Wish Farms, the largest grower and shipper of strawberries in Florida, will be hosting the first annual Bright House Networks Strawberry Picking Challenge, February 7 and 8 in Plant City, FL.

During the Bright House Networks Strawberry Picking Challenge, corporate sponsored teams will participate in a relay-style race as they compete to win the title of “Best Harvest Crew.” The event will kick off Friday evening with drinks, dinner and dancing at the TPepin Hospitality Centre in Tampa. Saturday’s family-friendly event will be held at Futch Farms in Plant City and is open to the general public. In addition, Radio Disney of Tampa Bay will be onsite leading games and activities for children. Families can enjoy fresh strawberries and strawberry shortcake. As with prior Wish Farms fundraisers, this event will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association, a Florida nonprofit that provides quality childcare and early education for children of migrant farm workers and rural low-income families.


Bright House Networks Strawberry Picking Challenge Event Details WHO:

For the past eight years, Wish Farms has held a charity tennis tournament, which last year raised over $86,000. This year, the action shifts from the tennis courts to the strawberry fields for a more farm-focused event open to the public. “By bringing this event to the farm, we hope to bring awareness and education to the hard work of our farm workers, while also making it a family-friendly event,” said Gary Wishnatzki, owner of Wish Farms.

Tickets will be sold onsite Saturday, February 8; however, purchasing tickets in advance is recommended, as space is limited. Those interested in attending should visit for online ticket orders.

Bright House Networks, Wish Farms and Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA)

WHAT: Wish Farms is hosting the Bright House Networks Strawberry Picking Challenge, to benefit RCMA WHERE: Futch Farms: 3536 Futch Loop, Plant City, FL 33566 WHEN: Saturday, February 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. COST:

$25 per adult and $8 per child 12 & under (ages 3 & under are free) This includes lunch, strawberry shortcake and a gift bag. Advanced tickets can be purchased online at

Sponsorship opportunities at various levels are still available. For details please contact Amber Kosinsky, Wish Farms’ Director of Marketing (813) 758-9027 or

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February 2014

Florida strawberries on the menu at Smokey Bones restaurants The Florida Strawberry Growers Association, as part of its continuing campaign to educate consumers about its unique winter strawberry crop, has partnered with Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill to spread the message that Fresh From Florida berries are on the menu in a special promotion that runs Feb. 10-March 2.

Florida is the dominant domestic supplier of winter strawberries, harvested between Thanksgiving and mid-March, and are shipped to locations east of the Mississippi and along the entire East Coast. This market is ideally suited to the Smokey Bones brand, which includes 65 locations in 17 states, most of which are in the same geographic area targeted by Florida winter strawberries.

Smokey Bones’ vice president of culinary Jason R. Gronlund, also a founding member of the FSGA Chefs Advisory Board, wanted to further promote Florida-grown strawberries, and suggested the restaurant could boost the berries’ brand exposure through menu items featuring the red, juicy fruit.

Gronlund created a limited-time dessert offering Florida Strawberries & Cream Cake, available Feb. 10. The restaurant also developed a new strawberry cocktail, Strawberry Blonde, and will offer a strawberry-flavored ale from its bar selections. “We are excited to be able to spotlight our winter berries through a popular restaurant brand that is synonymous with great food, drinks and fun. We know our collaboration with Smokey Bones will encourage consumers to purchase and consume more Florida strawberries all winter long,” said Sue Harrell, director of marketing for FSGA.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is supporting the “Bones ‘n’ Berries” promotion by lending its “Fresh from Florida” logo, which was created to promote the state’s fresh agricultural products. The logo will be placed on collateral material to identify the special menu items.

For more information about FSGA, For more information on Smokey Bones, visit

Simply Sweet Florida Strawberry Pie Recipe from Strawberry Sue, Florida Strawberry Growers Association

Ingredients ·         Chilled pie dough for one 9-inch pie ·         5 cups of quartered and hulled strawberries, divided ·         3/4 cup sugar ·         1/4 cup cornstarch ·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract ·         1/4 teaspoon almond extract ·         1 tablespoon lemon juice ·         1/8 teaspoon salt ·         Whipped cream

February 2014

Pie crust

Heat oven to 425°F. Place a baking sheet on a middle oven rack. Roll out pie dough to fit pie dish. Press dough down into dish so that it lines the bottom and sides. Trim dough so that about ½ inch hangs over edge of dish. Crimp edges of dough around dish. Pierce bottom of the crust with a fork (this prevent air pockets or bubbles from forming while baking).  Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and cool.


Add 2 cups of strawberries to a small saucepan. Mash strawberries until chunky. Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and glaze has thickened; 3 to 5 minutes. Cool completely.

Combine remaining 3 cups of strawberries with cooled strawberry glaze. Stir until strawberries are well coated. Spoon strawberry filling into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate pie at least 2 hours before cutting to allow filling to set. Top with whipped cream.

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 35


Denise Muir By Cindy Cutright

Denise Muir sure isn’t the stereotypical farmer one might expect to meet nor is her farm a mainstream operation either. Both are unique.

Denise, who hails from Georgia, discovered that establishing a farm was a natural progression for her. “I have always loved food,” she stated. “My mother was a dietician so food was paramount in our house.” Denise resisted her mother’s urging to follow in her footsteps and instead became a chef. “I did catering and I was really into deserts. I catered parties and then finally after years of working long hours, I thought I don’t want to do this anymore.” She then spent ten years as a

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financial advisor. “I’ve done just about everything. I’ve been a travel consultant and I’ve even worked in respiratory therapy.” Denise believes that everything she has ever done has led her to this. “If you would have told me six years ago I’d have a farm, I’d have thought you’d lost your mind. But, I absolutely love this and I know this is what I was supposed to do.” What she does is manage her farm, Rabbit Run. Rabbit Run is a hydroponic farm located on two acres of a fiveacre parcel in Fort Myers. Within its confines, Denise and a small crew cultivate a variety of vegetables sans soil. Instead, vegetables that range from Dragon’s Tongue Arugula to Cherokee Lettuce to Japanese Eggplant are grown in irrigated containers filled with ground coconut husks. Of hydroponic farming Denise said, “It is environmentally sensitive. The rule of thumb is you use one-tenth of the space and onetenth of the water (than conventional farming techniques). So that immediately appealed to me. The whole concept of hydroponics is you are giving the plants exactly what they need so the roots stay small and all the energy goes into the plant. I have also read articles about tests that have shown it (the produce) is nutritionally superior.” February 2014

When the farm first opened almost five years ago, it was a U-Pick operation (half the farm was in strawberries at the time). Denise re-evaluated the situation and decided to take the farm in a different direction. Now, she and her staff supply area restaurant chefs and specialty outlets with an assortment of fresh produce. Additionally, Denise hosts private markets where she instructs participants on ways to prepare the food. Her background continues to serve her well. “I always think how it’s going to look on the plate and I think that is my biggest advantage as a farmer is that I have the chef background.” Her philosophy is a simple one, “I think food should be beautiful and taste good. If I get a salad that’s not any good I know the rest of the meal is going to hell in a hand basket.”

recipes. “People come in and tell me how just eating right has changed their lives.” Of her clientele she remarked, “They have come to realize that eating healthy is not a fate worse than death. It is so much better than junk. We just had to get back to creating enthusiasm about it.”

The farm grows a wide variety of vegetables including hybrids. “I try to stay with the heirlooms,” Denise said. “I always think Mother Nature gets it right.” Denise is as hands on a farmer as the best of them. Nothing is left to chance. To list the types of produce grown at the farm by just their generic names – beans, zucchini, tomatoes - doesn’t do the vegetables justice. Everything must be just so. “If I don’t like the names of things, I change them,” she said. A perfect example of this is the colorful Kaleidoscope Lima Bean. It is a sight to behold. Like any good specialty farmer, Denise has even been known to harvest her own seeds such as those needed to grow the prized Variegated Yard Long Beans. “I knew I’d never get those again.” Specialty peppers, including a chocolate pepper with a smoky taste, are grown at the farm as well as herbs including several varieties of basil.

Rabbit Run is gaining notoriety, and rightfully so. Denise recently participated in Farm Week organized by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB) and she speaks wistfully of one day having her own product line. Having met Denise, I am sure that is just a matter of time. For more information call 239-292-0564 or visit

Rabbit Run is open to the public 11:00 to 3:00 on Saturdays and draws shoppers from Naples to Pine Island. Denise admits her produce is not the cheapest in town. “And,” she added, “I have no desire to be the cheapest in town. I do have a desire to be the best in town.” She said she loves to meet those who frequent the farm on Saturdays and often provides them with

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 37




25,500sf packing facility 8 bay doors 2 throw out pumps 2 Wells ORANGE GROVE 128± Acres COLLIER COUNTY Immokalee

Zoned AG, 113+ Acres Hamlin Orange grove, 19,699 trees, 2 submersible pumps & other pumps included. Call For Pricing

The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed reliable, however, Lee & Associates makes no guarantees, warranties or representations as to the completeness or accuracy thereof. The presentation of this property is submitted subject to errors, omissions, change of price or conditions prior to sale or lease or withdrawal without notice.

38 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine


17,000sf drive-in cooler 220 Acres On slope lasered  ASKING: $3.5 Million 377 Acres COLLIER COUNTY 6130 Pringle Lane, Immokalee4


Zoned General AG, 100+ acres of Valencia Orange Zoned A-2, 118+ acres Valencia Orange grove, 12,384 trees, 3 submersible pumpstrees, 14,722 trees, well, pole barn, trailers & other pumps included. Call For Pricing 1 electric throw pump. Call For Pricing

For More Information Please Contact:

Individual parcels, buy all or individual parcels. All lots are sloped laser leveled and are currently farmed. ASKING: $3,398,940

Chuck Smith, CCIM

Carlos Acosta

Senior Vice President

Senior Vice President

T: 239.826.3337

Se Habla Español

T: 239.823.0115

February 2014

The$90th$Annual$Southwest$Florida$and$Lee$County$Fair$ February$27$–$March$9,$2014$



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February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 39


February’s featured farmer takes us towards Manatee County to meet Gary Reeder. Gary is a 4th generation fresh market tomato grower from right here in our great state. He and his father moved to Manatee to grow their crops back in 1974. Gary recalls his first field that his Dad pointed out to him years ago. At that time, the property was covered with palmettos and other vegetation. Clearing land was part of a farmer’s negotiations for a lease. Landowners would allow a farmer access to the land to grow their crops for a few years in exchange for the farmer agreeing to make improvements to the land.

One of Gary’s earliest memories was working the fields with the hired help. He was too young and not strong enough to pick up a bushel, but he would pick to fill a basket and the help would lift the bushel to sit on his shoulder. He was able to carry the weight on his shoulder to the end of the row and there would be someone by the truck to take the load off his shoulder to lift it onto the truck for him. He also reminisced about loading wooden crates of tomatoes into boxcars at the train station in Palmetto. He was unable to lift the wooden

40 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

crates; although, he could easily slide the crates along the wood floor of the loading station. Tomatoes loaded at this station were packed in tissue paper to help cushion so that the northern states could enjoy the best product available from Florida’s fields.

As a fourth generation farmer, Gary has seen the industry adapt and adjust to many changes over the years. Growth on a large scale requires new techniques and improved equipment. In 1950, 2,234 acres of tomatoes were grown on 191 farms. By 2007, 16,576 acres of tomatoes were grown on only 22 farms. Less farms and farmers, yet they cover more acres. One misconception that seems to be common of American consumers is that a tomato is affected in a negative way by gassing. Chemically gassing a tomato is a method of ripening used to provide the northern markets with a fresh crop. By picking a mature green tomato just before the crop starts to pink on the vine enables a crop to arrive to a faraway market in prime condition. The proper use of ethylene allows for the February 2014

grower to deliver a tastier tomato to the northern markets. A tomato is too delicate to harvest in a bright red, ripe off the vine to reach a distant market in a fresh state. It was through studies and research that by artificially introducing a tomato to a higher concentration of natural gas can make it possible for the entire country to enjoy a fresh tomato. Try this at home if you like; place an unripe banana or other fruit in a paper bag with an apple or grapefruit and you will see it ripen right up. Vegetable production in Manatee County is still the number one agricultural enterprise. In 2011, records show an approximate of 55,700 acres with an annual farm-gate value of $290 million. Manatee and Hillsborough County tomatoes make up approximately 40% of the tomatoes grown in Florida. Production out of Florida makes over 70% of all fresh market tomatoes in the United States.

Currently, Gary is the President of the Manatee County Farm Bureau. He has been working with McClure West Coast Tomatoes for 28 years. Gary is very conscious about our environment and is a true farmer who believes in taking care of the land to preserve our way of life for the future. The things we do now may not effect our generation, but we must strive to protect and preserve our beautiful country for future generations to come.

February 2014

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ocated in the northern portion of Okeechobee County, Eagle Island Farms is an impressive row crop operation, spanning nearly 3,000 acres and utilizing “cutting edge” technology and processes.

According to General Manager Don Sellers, Jr., farmer Joe Hall owns 1,900 of those acres and leases another 1,000. Hall also has a cattle operation in Suwanee County and farms in Malone, Florida and Donaldsonville, Georgia.

have a separate person for each of those responsibilities, but here it’s me,” he laughs. Farming has been a family affair, as Don’s father Don Sellers, Sr. was a great influence on his son’s career. Don’s wife Brenda works in agricultural chemical sales and their 19-year old son Richard is also employed at Eagle Island.

While Don says that his “first love is cattle” he’s worked with row crops for almost 30 years now. “I started with South Bay Growers in 1986 and we grew a lot of celery and experimental crops, but when they closed in 1994 I joined U.S. Sugar and ran the last hand harvest crew working sugar cane. I learned about cane from the ground up.” He started as an Assistant Farm Manager, and then was promoted to Farm Manager, prior to U.S. Sugar implementing major changes that included consolidating 17 farms down to 4. “I found myself managing 60,000 acres and was away from my family a lot, so when the opportunity came about to join Mr. Hall at Eagle Island, I took it in 2007.” In his role of General Manager, Don is involved in the dayto-day purchasing, sales, human resources, and food safety issues that must be addressed. “At bigger farms they may

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February 2014

Eagle Island Farms has 12 full-time, year-round employees, but that figure can total up to 60 at the height of season. While the farm initially focused on growing potatoes and sweet corn, they have since changed their primary crops to cabbage and field corn. “Sweet corn is a more risky crop than field corn,” says Don, adding “We haven’t grown potatoes in two years – it is also high risk. Potatoes like long warm days, but rain can rot the seeds in the ground. Weather and price trends and predictions determine our crop decision each year.” They typically grow five to six different varieties of cabbage, depending on the season, and harvest 18-20,000 tons of cabbage annually. Says Don, “There are over 1,000 different varieties of cabbage. It’s a popular crop worldwide, as it is very high in protein but also has high water content.”

Cabbage is planted from mid-September through the end of January, with harvest beginning mid- December if the weather is warm like this winter; otherwise harvest runs early January through early May. “We want to be finished by then as the insects and diseases increase with the warmer weather,” Don explains. The cabbage is marketed through brokers such as Lakeside Produce who offer a year-round supply to their buyers (like Publix and KFC), who use the cabbage for coleslaw. Based on buyer requests, much of the cabbage is cored in the field. Cores are then recycled and used as organic matter to replenish the soil. They also utilize cover crops like sorghum, sunn hemp, and even oats, in order to maintain nutrients and prevent soil erosion. Once harvested, cabbage heads are taken to the 15,000 square feet of refrigerated storage space on site. The vacuum cooled areas can lower produce temperature to 38 degrees in just 45 minutes. The remaining

February 2014

areas cool produce within 24 to 36 hours, but the cabbage is shipped quickly and often leaves the farm within 24 hours of being harvested, with buyers furnishing their own transportation. Field corn is planted at Eagle Island from the first of February through mid-May and is typically sold to local dairies like Larson, MacArthur and Davie Dairy, who use the corn for silage (fermented livestock feed). Don cites their greatest farming challenges as the price/ production cost squeeze; food safety regulations; and the labor shortage.

The farm contracts an independent food safety auditor who inspects the entire operation once or twice each year, in addition to inspections by their customers’ auditors who visit three or four times each year. In fact, one had just left the morning I visited with Don. Just a few examples of the food safety measures taken include testing the fields for contaminants prior to both planting and harvesting, and sampling water for bacterial contamination. Even the warehouse floor, as well as the tires on forklifts used to move containers in the warehouse, is sampled for possible contamination! As with any farming entity, water plays a vital role in crop success. Don explained the importance of proper irrigation just after planting to ensure that the small seeds or small plants are firmly imbedded in the ground. Water furrows exist every 16 rows, with a 1” line used to irrigate from the hardpan up to the surface. They also capture and reuse irrigation water and rainfall whenever possible.

So the next time you enjoy a side of coleslaw or maybe some corned beef and cabbage, think about your local farmers and all the steps that go in to producing that tasty and safe food source.

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 43


BRIAN TURNER By Dixie Thomas Farming is “either in you or its not,” says Brian Turner, the owner/operator of Utopia Farms and Utopia Packing LLC of Myakka City. Farming certainly runs in his blood, as he is a fourth generation farmer in Manatee County. About two years ago, Brian purchased what is now Utopia Farms from Lewis King of King Ranch, and began building a packing facility near SR 70. The King Ranch had been primarily used as grazing land, so work had to be done to convert it to crop land, including lasering, removing old culverts, and installing wells and irrigation systems. Now, Utopia Farms consists of 2,060 acres, has a 70,000 square foot packinghouse, a greenhouse and completed crop fields at the Myakka City location. Brian also leases 1,400 acres for growing crops in Immokalee.

Utopia Farms grows, packs, and ships its own produce, including pepper, fresh market cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, and tomatoes. The farm ships to 150 different customers located predominately in the eastern United States. Depending on the grade, the produce is shipped directly to supermarkets, restaurants and food service vendors. Brian explains that planting takes place every week from August 15 to March 15, which allows harvest from October to June. “This covers the whole

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Florida window and gives a more consistent supply,” Brian said. During harvest, Utopia employs between 500-600 people. Though Utopia is a conventional farm, Brian uses many applications that are organic and could be part of a certified organic program, such as Dawn dishwashing soap, which he uses as a pesticide.

Owning his own packinghouse, a brand new one at that, is a huge benefit to Brian and his operation. Not only does he avoid the hassle and cost of renting a facility, but he also has full control of his produce from beginning to end to aid in food safety. From daily sanitation and top of the line cooling rooms, down to the paint used in the building, Brian is sure to take food safety to above and beyond the standard requirements. “Food safety is at the forefront of everything we do,” says Brian. The packinghouse has a system of keeping track of each box and each piece of produce that runs through the lines. Each piece of produce and each box are labeled so that it can be tracked back to the zone it came from in the field. If a problem is found with any of the produce, then Brian can trace it back to its exact origin. February 2014

Brian’s family has been involved in farming in Manatee and Sarasota counties since the 1930’s. His grandfather, Herman Turner had Double Crescent Ranch and worked in road construction. After WWII, Herman was able to purchase what is now Hi Hat Ranch in Sarasota from Ross Beason. The original Hi Hat Ranch consisted of 28,000 acres, and Herman purchased it with cattle ranching and horse racing in mind. Herman drove all the way to King Ranch in Texas to get a stud horse named “King Klieburg” which he entered in races all across Florida. Brian explains that his father, Richard Turner, and Faye Blackstone were the only people that could really handle “King Klieburg.” Since the start of Hi Hat Ranch, Richard Turner, Rick Turner, Lat Turner, and Herman’s six grandchildren (including Brian) have all been involved in the farming and ranching operation. Lat Turner, Brian’s uncle, worked with the University of Florida and was instrumental in the eradication of screwworms in the 1950’s. Presently, Rick Turner runs the citrus operation and Chuck Turner manages the cattle operation at the ranch.

Bradenton, “where my phone doesn’t work,” he says with a big smile. Now that he has all the pieces in place at Utopia Farms, his goal is to make the farm as efficient as possible and regain his investment. Brian admits farming certainly has its challenges with fuel, fertilizer and other costs increasing, but he explains that his biggest concern is “the continued consolidation of food production and competition with third world countries.” Despite the challenges, Brian says he enjoys farming because, “I have the satisfaction of knowing I am helping to feed people, and that in itself is a tremendous responsibility.”

In the mid ‘90s, Brian decided to venture out on his own. After taking some courses at Stetson University and the University of Florida, he had the opportunity to pursue an internship in agronomy. Shortly after that, in 1998, Brian began his own sod operation. Along with Utopia Farms, Brian now owns Florida Premier Turf and is also a co-owner of Taylor and Fulton Packing LLC. He utilizes 600 acres of the land bought from Lewis King at his Utopia Farms location to grow St. Augustine sod and he also harvests Bahia sod from other farms all over southwest Florida. The land at the Utopia Farms location already had a large canal for drainage at the time Brian purchased it. By way of the canal and a pond that he dug, Brian is able to retain and recycle the water used for the produce and use it to irrigate the sod fields. Since construction has picked up recently, Brian sells about 2,000 pallets of Bahia sod and about 500-800 pallets of Flora-tam sod per week.

Brian is married and has two daughters, ages 5 and 7, who are the first girls born into the Turner family in three generations. In his spare time, Brian enjoys fishing 160 miles off shore from

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For more information please call or visit our website.


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February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 45


Fresh From Florida Crops by the Numbers By Ron Lambert and Levi Lambert Photos submitted by Wish Farms and Florida Strawberry Growers Association

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History by the Numbers

Researching the history of row crops grown in Florida, it is apparent that the vegetable crops grown within the state were of tremendous economic value throughout the years. The research and development of both new varieties and improvements in cultural practices from the agricultural experiment stations provided invaluable support to the industry. The varieties of crops grown as well as acreage devoted to specific crops are of both a surprise and interest to me. There is a rich agricultural history in our great state and I found the Sunshine State Agricultural Research Report covering 75 years ending in 1963 to be of great historical information.

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The amazing advances in sweet corn production began in the early 1940s and in two decades had grown into a multimillion-dollar crop. Extensive research on insect control, which was primarily corn ear worms, was solved by the release of DDT by the military for civilian use in 1945. This chemical would provide nearly 100% control of many insects on a wide variety of crops. Unfortunately, this chemical caused unforeseen environmental damage and its use was discontinued. Advances in refrigeration solved problems in retaining quality of sweet corn and due in part to the new varieties developed by research centers, sweet corn acreage had increased to a total of 48,300 acres primarily on muck soil in Zellwood and in the Everglades region. In 1959-60, sweet corn was ranked as the 4th most valuable crop in Florida with a dollar value of $13,475,000 by tomatoes at $44,739,000, potatoes at $17,835,000 and snap beans at $16,635,000. All of these crops were made possible through research at Florida's experiment stations. Tomatoes have been shipped from Florida fields to northern markets before 1890. At least part of this trip was made by ship. The first areas of commercial production were in marl soil in both Dade and Manatee Counties. As research proved practicality of growing in sandy soils, the acreage devoted to tomato production began to expand rapidly. The availability of low cost fertilizers, more rapid transit and improved handling practices as well as much progress on disease and insect control from the experiment stations particularly the Gulf Coast Station and the Indian River Field Laboratory helped insure the expansion of acreage devoted to tomato production. In the decade of the 1950-60s, Florida produced a crop with an average value of $45,000,000 on an average acreage of 56,620. During the 30 years prior to publication of this bulletin, popular varieties included Grothens Globe, which was desirable for green-wrap purposes. This variety was released

February 2014

in 1937 but was replaced in 1953 by varieties with higher yields and particularly resistance to fusarium wilt. The two leading varieties in those years were Homestead, which was very productive in the rock prevalent in Dade County, followed by Manalucie. Manalucie was named for both Manatee and St. Lucie Counties, which were both important producers of tomatoes at the time. Tomato acreage has declined dramatically over the past 30-40 years both in acreage as well as the number of active growers. However, tomatoes from Florida remain a familiar sight as well as an important crop in the sunshine state.

Potatoes have been grown commercially in the Hastings area since the 1890s. Since that time, this area has produced over half of the total production. The remaining production is a winter crop grown in Dade County and Ft. Myers and Immokalee area. In 1900, 1,738 acres of potatoes were grown in Florida. The average yield per acre was 60 bushels and value was recorded at $110,538. At the end of the 1958-59 harvest, acreage was 36,920, yield per acre was 250 bushels and crop value was $16,120,600. Florida's potato industry is one of the leading agricultural enterprises of its kind due to research developments from the Florida experiment stations and adaption of good farming methods by Florida farmers. Sweet peppers were grown on 15,600 acres in Florida in 1960, which put it at the 8th most important spot in acreage, however, 116,700,000 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 47

pounds of pods harvested from 13,400 acres and sold for $12,945,000 made pepper the 5th most valuable vegetable crop grown that year. Once more, the cultural practices developed at the research centers has been very useful to Florida growers, most of whom farm on Florida's lower east coast.

region, which produced 74% of the crop total. This crop has had an average value of $13,501,900. The increased yield over the years is reflected by reported shipments of four rail cars in 1899. By 1960, the total shipped had increased to 11,360 carloads grown on 11,300 acres primarily in Palm Beach County. A huge advance came in 1948 when A. Duda and Sons built a Cucumbers are a crop that once gave Hardee county mobile packinghouse. nationwide recognition as the Cucumber capital of the world. Actually, they were grown in 39 of 67 The production and demand for pole beans has counties in commercial quantities. In 1940-41, total increased steadily since it began in the 1930s. Dade acreage was 8,800 with a value of $1,800,000. By County, Florida leads the nation with acreage of 7000 1959-60 acreage had increased to 16,600 and harvest planted and a value of $4,000,000. Pole Beans are value had increased to $9,250,000. Florida growers grown on a support of poles usually made from dried provided 36% of the total US crop in the 1959-60 sesbania stalks that provide a summer cover crop. season on 31% of the total acreage grown. The experiment stations began a statewide breeding program in 1957 to develop high quality, disease resistant varieties for Florida conditions. Cabbage was grown in the late 19th century in Alachua, Lake, Sumter, Polk and in a few other counties. In the years between 1901-1905, an average acreage of 1,981 was reported with a yield of 4.6 tons per acre and an average value of $214,514. Research began on cabbage as early as 1888 at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station in Lake City. Cabbage was a profitable crop and by 1958-59, an average annual acreage of 17,600, annual yield of 9.4 tons per acre and annual value of $6,299,100. Cabbage was grown commercially in at least 24 counties in 1960. As of the printing of my research source, which spans 55 years, Florida's cabbage acreage increased 9 times, the yield doubled and the gross value multiplied 29 times. I have to mention my uncle Orion Shackelford who grew cucumbers in Hardee County for nearly 30 years commercially as well as pepper, eggplant, peas and sweet corn. After he retired from commercial farming, he grew a fine garden for as long as he was able. He had such a vast knowledge of what was necessary to make a garden flourish. Those of you who had the privilege to have known him know exactly what I mean. Celery is a crop that was first grown around Sanford after the 1895 freeze destroyed the citrus groves. Florida's celery industry began in Sanford but the main growing area in 1959-60 was the Everglades

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Cauliflower has been grown in Florida almost as long as any crop. The experiment station provided cultural and marketing information as early as 1901 in station bulletin 59. Peak production for cauliflower was 1500 acres in 1953. Broccoli and Cauliflower are fall and winter crops grown primarily in Dade, Hillsborough, Putnam, St. Johns and Seminole Counties and smaller acreage in five or more Florida counties. Research efforts continue to increase the productivity of these crops. Florida's watermelon acreage is one that not only shows dramatic change in all aspects of its culture over the time period 1890-1960, but also has continued to adapt to changes in consumer demands and preference. February 2014

Florida has led the country both in acreage, production and value of the harvested crop. In 1960, farm value of Florida watermelons was 25% of the nations total. For this reason, research on watermelon culture began at Lake City in 1888. The work there and at Gainesville prior to 1930 was primarily centered on cultural study. In 1930, a laboratory was established at Leesburg for the purpose of studying disease and insect and rodent control. These were factors that were considered to be the most serious problems at the time. Wilt resistant varieties named Leesburg, Blacklee, Brownlee and Ironsides were developed from a breeding program that began in 1930. Of even greater importance were the advances made in combining resistance into breeding stock that is still used today. The most serious problems facing melon growers was anthracnose and wilt. Much valuable progress that benefits melon breeders today came straight out of Leesburg, Florida. One interesting thing that leaped out at me was mention that a variety named Charleston Gray held 90% of the acreage grown in production in the 1950s. Today it is nearly unknown.

Other crops grown in Florida of varying importance that nevertheless add to the diversity of vegetable crops grown here include eggplant, escarole, chicory, lettuce, radishes, southern field peas, spinach, greens, five types of squash and sweet potatoes.

A Look at Today’s Numbers

As of 2004, Florida has ranked number one nationally in the acreage, production, and value of fresh market tomatoes. This ranking has remained unchanged since the early 1980s. In 2004, fresh market tomatoes from Florida earned 37% of the cash receipts. Florida harvested 33% of the national fresh market tomato acreage, which makes up for 42% of produced tomatoes. Though there are those who would much rather know dollars and pounds. Florida fresh tomatoes produced approximately 1.5 billion pounds in 2004 valued at over 500 million dollars, equating to an average price of $0.33 per pound. More recently in 2012, Florida tomatoes have dropped to number two on the reports. Production value has nearly been cut Over the 30 years from 1930-1960, watermelon in half to a value of $268 million. This is the largest production went from a value of less than $1,000,000 fluctuation for Florida tomatoes since it's climb from from acreage of less than 25,000 to a total of the 1980s. Collectively, other vegetables and melons $11,000,000 from 83,000 acres. Between 1950-60 the grown in Florida bring in $1.67 billion. yield per acre increased over 45%. Who can resist the sight, smell and taste of a bright red strawberry? Not many. It seems as strawberries were ranked as the fifth most preferred fresh fruit in the US behind bananas, apples, oranges and grapes in 2010. Information on the health benefits of strawberries due to antioxidant levels, Folate, Potassium, Vitamin C and fiber content have boosted consumer interest.

Today, watermelons are available pretty much year round in seedless as well as seeded types. Consumer preference has led to a trend to produce a smaller melon for today's smaller families. Always keep in mind that our research stations had a vital part in this and to insist on Fresh From Florida products. They are still a great value and a smart choice!

February 2014

The state of Florida has been an important producer of these luscious fruits as far back as the 1880s. In fact, the small northeast Florida town of Lawtey has the distinction of being the first shipper to northern markets. Records show that a refrigerated rail car was loaded and sent north in 1884. It became a valuable crop in many rural communities in the 1920s on small family farms. The Hardee county town of Bowling Green held a strawberry festival for a number of years before giving up the title of strawberry capital to the Plant City area. Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 49

In 1961-62, Florida growers produced 11,000,000 pounds on 2,200 acres valued at $4,500,000. At the time, this was all but the total U S fresh market supply through December, January, February and March. As time moves on to the present era, Florida’s acreage has soared to a level of 8,800 led by California with 38,600 acres. Florida’s yield per acre has risen to an average of approximately 25,000 pounds per acre.

Here in the Sunshine State, there are several contributing factors which make it possible for Florida to rank second in the United States for vegetable value; moreover, Florida ranks number one in the United States for production value of oranges, grapefruit, fresh snap beans, sweet corn, watermelons, fresh cucumbers, fresh market tomatoes, squash and sugarcane. According to the most recent figures available: Florida has 47,500 commercial farms, using a total of 9.25 million acres based on the information gathered by the Florida Agricultural Statistic Service. In 2012, Florida's harvested acreage of the seven vegetable crops, potatoes, berries and watermelons totaled 242,800 acres, up from 232,700 acres in the 2011 season. Florida’s leading crops arranged from highest value to lowest are: (1) tomatoes, (2) peppers, (3) strawberries, (4) sweet corn, (5) snap beans, (6) watermelons, (7) cucumbers, (8) squash, (9) blueberries and (10) cabbage. The 2012 value of production for the seven major vegetable crops, potatoes, berries and watermelons totaled $1.41 billion, down 19% from 2011. Cucumbers, snap beans, watermelons, and sweet corn showed increases in value from the previous season, while strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage, bell peppers, squash and blueberries showed declines. For a more detailed look at the information collected by the Florida Agricultural Statistic Service you can view www.

Florida’s total production is grown for the fresh market and our winter production makes strawberries available every week of the year in your local market. Florida’s strawberry crop’s total value in 2010 was $362,000,000. The most familiar name to the consumer is that of Plant City strawberries and Hillsborough County hosts the annual Strawberry Festival featuring local strawberry delights, well Tourism has its place known musical acts and crowds that you can't stir here in Florida, but it is with a stick. my opinion that farmers are still the backbone of Over the past decade, urban sprawl and water our state and country. restrictions in Hillsborough County has led many Support Fresh from growers to shift their operations further south into Florida every chance you Hardee and DeSoto counties. The main reason is get. It's that important! the availability of larger acreage and a water supply that heavy withdrawals do not impact smaller residential wells. This is just one more example of the adaptability of the farmers who continue to provide fresh, wholesome produce from the sunshine state for all of America.

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February 2014

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 51

Farm-ecology vs. Pharm-acology

By Dr. D. Keatley Waldron, D. C. Contribution by Beckie Halaska Dr. D, Keatley Waldron, D.C. of Waldron Chiropractic Health Center-Sebring is board certified and committed to providing his patients with only the highest quality care. He has a heart and passion for this community that has been his home for most of his life. Dr. Waldron has been in practice for over 22 years and applies an educational approach to his natural healing techniques. His philosophy is, an ounce of prevention is worth...everything!

As a Chiropractor and believer in Homeopathic methods, I have sat back and observed the state of our declining health and frankly, it concerns me. Consider the facts: we went fat free and gained more weight, we cut salt from our diet and have more high blood pressure. The latest studies from the CDC states that Diabetes has increased at such an alarming rate since 1990 and that trend will only worsen. Obesity is on the rise and appears to be an epidemic.

Even in my practice, I am seeing great strides in technology to help us help our bodies rid the toxins and create health. I believe the greatest part of our successful weight loss program, by in large, is the focus on eliminating the fat of its stored toxins, toxins that can stay in our fatty system for years. With the most up to date technology, we are able to pin which chemicals you are storing, give you a formula to rid your body of that toxicity and begin healing. When you find the toxins, and key in on the organs that are stressed, you enable your body to rid itself of toxins and begin to fire your system back up on all cylinders.

My belief is that we have ingested such high amounts of processed foods, pesticides and fertilizers that our bodies are just not able to keep up any longer. We are toxic.

I tell all my patients there are a wide variety of organic options for you out there, it may cost a bit more, but it supports those that are making strides to produce organically and the savings is in the health of your future.

Every day, I see more patients making the connection of what we eat and our health. The body is meant to be able to take care of itself, to eliminate virus and bacteria that cause illness. You put in chemicals that our body doesn’t understand and you do it all day long, every day, month and year after year, the effects are not surprising. What I do find surprising is how well we do actually dispose of those chemicals and toxins from our system.

Whether your garden is large or small, or you are a Row Crop producer, you are valuable and appreciated in our community. Our fruit and vegetables are still by far the most important part of our diet as well as a staple in our economics here in our corner of Eden. Clean your fruit and vegetables. Eat more of these and less of the rest!

There have been major strides in using gentler, less harmful pesticides. We would love to see a more organic approach to growing, even if just on the home front. I do see a trend to make the transition to organic growing and it gives me great hope.

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Home growers have an easier time of beginning a healthier way of growing fruits and vegetables. From soil prep, clean seeds, and insect repellents that are organic, there is a wide variety and more available every day. At the very least, eating cleaner, organic foods, is by far the greatest beginning to health you can make.

February 2014

Highlands County Fair February 7th – 15th 77 Years of Food, Fun & Thrills

Entertainment Including: Master Hypnotist, Mark Yuzik The Bengal Encounter Master of The Chainsaw, Rodney Green Caricature Drawings Old Time Photo Booth Highlands County Beauty Pageants Miss, Jr. Miss, & Little Miss Contests Livestock Show & Sales With Tons of Mouth Watering Food In The Midways!!

February 2014

Music from: The Florida Bluegrass Band JJ McCoy Band California Toe Jam Band Disney Idol Winner, Cammie Lester Avon Park Choir Lloyd Mabre MC & Roving Entertainer

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Total Recipe Time: 40 to 45 minutes Makes 6 servings

Five-Way Mini Meatloaves Ingredients: 1-1/2 pounds Ground Beef (93% lean or leaner) 1/3 cup saltine or butter cracker crumbs or Panko bread crumbs 1/3 cup finely chopped onion 1/3 cup reduced-fat 2% milk 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper Toppings: Ketchup or barbecue sauce and shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions: Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly.

Shape beef mixture into 12 equal portions. Place into 12-cup standard muffin pan, lightly patting beef mixture to level top. Bake in 350°F oven 19 to 20 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Remove from oven. Garnish with Toppings, as desired. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Variations:

Italian Mini Meatloaves: Add 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup pasta sauce and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil to base meatloaf ingredients. Bake 22 to 24 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Evenly top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional pasta sauce and garnish with additional chopped basil, as desired.

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Greek Mini Meatloaves: Add 3 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano to base meatloaf ingredients. Bake 22 to 24 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Evenly top with crumbled feta cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serve with prepared tzatiki sauce. Garnish with sliced cucumber, as desired. Asian Mini Meatloaves: Add 1/4 cup chopped green onions and 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger to base meatloaf ingredients. Bake 22 to 24 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Evenly top with hoisin sauce or teriyaki glaze. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped peanuts, sliced green onions or chopped cilantro, as desired. Spanish Mini Meatloaves: Add 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped Spanish olives and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika to base meatloaf ingredients. Bake 22 to 24 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Evenly top with shredded manchego cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sliced Spanish olives, as desired.

February 2014

Better Yields, Better Quality, Safer for the Environment Available through Jim Dorman of Charlie’s Plant Farm, Inc. (813) 601-2540 FL-Ad.indd 1


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February 2014

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Denise Colgan By Robbi Sumner

Serving as the newly elected President of the Florida Cattlewomen’s Association seems like a perfect fit for Denise Colgan. One of four children born to J.C. and JoAnn Bass, Denise grew up on the family ranch located in the rural community of Basinger, just north of Okeechobee where several family generations have been involved in beef cattle production. She was active in 4-H and FFA, although she and her sister Marcia chose to show dairy cows instead of beef, much to her dad’s chagrin! Denise’s husband Jim was previously employed in the Aeronautical industry and they lived in the Orlando area for a number of years, before returning to Okeechobee with daughters Audra and Cassie in 2005.

She joined the Okeechobee and Florida Cattlewomen’s Associations in 2006. “I met Jan Dillard while attending a Quarterly meeting and we became friends. She then asked me to serve as Chaplain during her year as FCW President, which began my service on the Board.”

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Cattlewomen typically serve in seven positions prior to becoming President, although extenuating circumstances of other officers led to Denise bypassing terms as Parliamentarian and Treasurer. “I’ve learned so much from the other members and serving in various positions like Chairperson of the Promotions Committee,” she shares. Denise has also been active on the National Beef Cook-off Committee, attending the Metro Cooking and Entertainment Show in Washington, DC and Houston, Texas, as well as the Southern Women’s Show in Orlando, where she was a CoCommittee Chair in 2013. The purpose of such events is to educate consumers and encourage beef consumption.

The Cattlewomen stay busy throughout the year with other projects and events like the upcoming March Quarterly meeting held in Tallahassee each year, including the “Hats on the Hill” street party. This provides opportunities for industry leaders to meet with legislative members and share the word about Beef. In December, members continued their tradition of supporting the Hope Children’s Home in Tampa by using personal funds to purchase gifts for the youth February 2014

residents, as well as providing well over $500 in beef gift certificates to provide nutritious meals to the kids and staff. The organization also funds six post-secondary scholarships each year, having recently added the memorial Jan Dillard Scholarship in honor of their past President who passed away in 2013. There are also opportunities for those pursuing trade school. According to Denise, “We have a whole generation of workers – welders, diesel mechanics, and such – who are nearing retirement and there aren’t enough workers to take their place. It’s vital that we have those talented and knowledgeable people to help support our industry in the future.”

Denise teaches Intensive Reading and ESE (Exceptional Student Education) classes in U.S. History at Sebring High School and brings her passion for teaching to FCW. “A lot of my focus is on member education, as it is our responsibility to educate others on matters of not just nutrition, but also herd management, sustainability, and environmental conservation efforts surrounding the beef industry. Because I’m a teacher, I like to spread the word, but we need as many people as possible doing the same!”

She and Jim are raising their own herd of beef cattle on their property and an adjoining lease. “We started with 19 head we leased from my dad and have grown from there,” she shares. A self-described introvert, Denise becomes quite the extrovert when discussing this industry that she is so obviously passionate about. Combining her life experiences with a love of teaching is certain to make for a successful year leading the Florida Cattlewomen.

Each FCW President gets to choose a charity project for their year in office. Says Denise, “Because I was born on Citizenship Day and my dad served in the Marines, I am very patriotic and have chosen The Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center as my charity. I feel strongly that we should help those who have served our country so unselfishly.” The Center is one of five facilities in the U.S. designed to provide intensive rehabilitative care to Veterans and Service members who experienced severe injuries to more than one organ system. “My goal is for us to sponsor a dinner for all of the residents and any of their family members who may also be in the area. Maybe we can even host a ranch tour for those able to attend,” she added. CSBAgriInTheFieldMagAd:Layout 1 7/24/13 12:58 PM Page


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February 2014


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Outstanding CattleWoman of 2013 By Dixie Thomas


ccasionally, a leader arrives on the scenes who inspires and challenges people, and who stands out as an influential person. When we think of prominent women in the beef industry, names might come to mind like Faye Blackstone, Jeanette Barthle and Iris Wall, among many others. Another name may come to mind now, as the Florida CattleWomen Inc. named Lindsey Blakeley John “Outstanding CattleWoman of the Year” for 2013. Considering Lindsey’s involvement and contributions to the beef industry, this title is well deserved.

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Lindsey John has impacted the beef industry on local, state and national levels. She has been involved in Manatee County as Manatee County CattleWomen president, treasurer, Fair Booth Chairman and volunteer. Lindsey has also participated as the Beef Breeding Show Secretary of the Manatee River Fair Association, AgLiteracy Day Classroom volunteer and Manatee County AgVenture beef demonstration presenter. On the state level, Lindsey has served as President, Vice President and Secretary of the Florida CattleWomen, Inc. She has also served as a delegate for voting seat on the Florida Beef Council and Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation and as a volunteer with FL Cattlemen’s Foundation Ranch Rodeo and Heritage Festival. Nationally, Lindsey has been involved in the beef industry as a FCW delegate to the American National CattleWomen conferences and ANCW region meeting co-chair. Horses and 4-H programs helped to launch Lindsey into the beef industry at a young age. “My parents weren’t in agriculture, but had always had horses,” Lindsey explains. She joined the 4-H Horse program in Brevard County where she grew up and showed in western events. Mr. Lowell Loadholtz, the County Extension Director, was in need of another member for the Livestock Judging team and invited Lindsey to give it a try. “After a lot of patience and teaching from Mr. Loadholtz and Billy Kempfer and his family,” Lindsey said, “we were very successful in the State 4-H Livestock Judging Contest. And I had learned where my food came from and wanted a career in agriculture in Florida.” Lindsey went on to earn a B.S. in Animal Science and a M.A. in Agricultural Business at the University of Florida. Being a beef advocate has been a theme throughout Lindsey’s career. During her term as Florida CattleWomen President, Lindsey was instrumental in introducing a new fund raising activity that raised over $40,000 for beef promotion and scholarships. She and a few other CattleWomen brainstormed together and came up with the annual “Can You Outshoot a CattleWoman” event. This event has been very successful and was just held for the sixth year, on January 11th, 2014. As FCW President, Lindsey has also spoken with legislators in Tallahassee and discussed issues such as Greenbelt Legislation, Landowner’s rights, animal handling and welfare and conservation. According to Lindsey, it’s important for people in the beef and cattle industries to “provide a face” for the farmer and rancher to both legislators and consumers. “We have to continually remind them that we care, and we take care of the animals and the land for our families and all consumers every day, because it is our heritage and it’s the right thing to do.”

Lindsey John is married to Steve John and has one daughter, Sarah Ann, who is seven. Steve grows citrus, is Vice President of the Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association, and is an active volunteer with the Manatee River Fair. Sarah loves February 2014

ballet, gymnastics and riding her pony in local rodeos. “We stay busy together,” Lindsey says. Some of the hobbies Lindsey enjoys include CattleWomen Promotions, showing her horse in reined cow-horse events and reining shows and volunteering with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

One of Lindsey’s most memorable experiences while participating in the beef industry is riding into the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee at the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo Finals. She has had the opportunity to do this twice. The first time she rode into the arena as president of FCW, and she describes it as a “moving” experience as she was introduced in the grand entry. The second time, Lindsey rode into Silver Spurs Arena in 2012, and competed in the finals events with her team. She explains that this event was the “culmination of hard work” from her team, the Manatee Cattlemen and CattleWomen, and her family. We will likely see Lindsey John around for a while as she says she plans to continue her involvement in the beef industry, “to reach out to consumers of all ages through the Manatee County CattleWomen events including the Beef Booth and AgVentures, all the Florida CattleWomen activities including the booth at the Florida State Fair, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Ranch Rodeo Finals.” In her own words, “Let’s go Be a Beef Advocate!”

Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation Update The Florida Cattlemen’s Foundation has revamped and rebuilt the Cattlemen’s Foundation exhibit building located at the Florida State Fair with the Forestry Association. 
Last year’s attendance to the museum was a huge success and a new porch, benches and signs will make folks feel like they are truly in Cracker Country. The foundation’s book, Florida Cattle Ranching Five Centuries of Tradition, will be available at the museum or you can order it online from

The foundation is again a sponsor of the Champion of Champions program that awards the great youth exhibiting at the State Fair, as the foundation believes in Florida’s great youth agricultural programs.

Dean Saunders, ALC, CCIM, of Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate has announced a unique offer that can help fund the FCA Foundation ongoing. FCA members, who sell, buy, or refer property or conservation easements to CBCSRE that closes, will earn for the Foundation 5% of the brokerage’s final commission. Dean is a long-time Florida land broker specializing in land, ranches and conservation easements. Go to to register! The program has already raised $2,400.00 on the first real estate deal!

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 59

Can You Out Shoot a

Cattlewoman? By Levi Lambert

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Saturday, January 11th was a nice day to be outdoors anywhere in the sunshine state, but one very desirable destination was Quail Creek Plantation in Okeechobee. The Florida CattleWomen have put a great deal of effort into their fundraising event known as Can You Outshoot a Cattlewoman and their hard work shows. This year’s shoot continued to show that it is a very popular and enjoyable way to spend a day with 35 teams and around 170 shooters participating in the event. The shoot is supported by a number of sponsor individuals and companies that gave generously of both time and resources. As always, the staff of Quail Creek Plantation are on hand to keep everything moving along smoothly. The officers of the Florida CattleWomen were also all there with a helping hand and a big smile throughout the registration time.

I came over from Hardee County with my father Ron Lambert, my lifelong friend Julie Platt Cook, my friend and mentor Gil Vasquez and my daughter Lily Lambert to represent Heartland In the Field Magazine. We didn’t set or break any records but we all had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed a delicious steak lunch. I would like to thank each and every one that had any part in making this important fundraiser become a reality. February 2014

The Cattlewomen would like to thank their sponsors, as the event would not have been possible without their support: Barthel Brothers Bass Electric

Beasley, Bryant, & Co. CPA’s CenterState Bank Central States Chop N Block

Columbia Grain & Ingredients Crop Production, Wauchula Crystalix

Dixie Ranch The high overall team was Bass Electric. Team members were Joel Bass, Kyle Reno, Steve Smith and Vernon Hinote. The runner up team was Highlands Shooters, with team members Ray Royce, Dr. Dave Wiley, Ray Broughton and Charlie Wilson. Ray Royce was second high individual with a 98, Cliff O’Donnell came in with the amazing score of 99.

The high scoring cowboy team was Williamson Cattle Company with Wes and John Williamson, Ray Domer and Lee Watford. The runner up cowboy team was Lykes Brothers, which included Flint Johns, Stan Speed, Carl Bauman and Matt Griffith. Lee Watford claimed the high scoring cowboy shooter. BeBe Rodriguez was the top scoring lady shooter and Robin Mixon was second high lady after a tiebreaker. The top scoring youth was Wyatt Youngman and Lacey Waters came in the middle of the herd at 50%. One goal that the Cattlemen and Women strive to reach is to raise awareness for the youth who are the consumers of tomorrow. The cattle industry is a key industry in our state, and through their efforts, will remain a vital part of Florida’s economy. I am appreciative of any group that works to protect any business within Florida. We look forward to see you back in Okeechobee next year, plan to return and make 2015’s shoot even better than 2014!

February 2014

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Representative Cary Pigman Ridge Equipment Schwend

Steve Johnson Harvesting

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Syfrett Feed

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The Scoular Company Watering Hole Restaurant Waters Cattle

Wauchula State Bank Williamson Cattle Company

WM / Okeechobee Landfill, Inc. Yianni’s

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 61

By Ron Lambert

On Saturday, January 11, I had the pleasure of sharing a brief time with Ned Waters at Quail Creek Plantation. Waters has a part in directing a very worthwhile program called Operation Outdoor Freedom. Waters brought a group of four men to participate in the Florida Cattlewomen’s shoot that day. These men and women have done their part to defend and protect the freedom that we enjoy in America and certainly deserve our support and appreciation.

This program began in 2010 to provide an opportunity for veterans of our armed forces to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in our state. The first hunt was a guided spring gobbler hunt for ten wounded soldiers on a tract of forestry land. The response from the participants was so positive that support poured in to enable Operation Outdoor Freedom to grow by leaps and bounds.

There are 48 different events scheduled during 2013-2014 on 12 State Forests, water management land, various county owned land, other public sites as well as private ranches and timber tracts throughout Florida. They believe that there will be over 50 events held this fiscal year that will include both salt and fresh water fishing, guided and unguided hunts as well as other outdoor activities.

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Within Florida, there are two areas owned by the State Forestry Service dedicated to usage by wounded veterans and more will be added soon. Operation Outdoor Freedom partners with the Wounded Warrior Project, The Military Order of the Purple Heart and the J.A. Haley Veterans Hospital. It is hoped that the Veterans Hospitals in Jacksonville and Panama City will soon be included. The funds to support these events is through private funding from Forestry personnel or community support groups. The Florida Forest Service manages Operation Outdoor Freedom.

The cooperation between the division of Forestry, the FWC and the private sector has been great. Our Commissioner of Agriculture has been very supportive in providing leadership and guidance to establish wounded veteran tracts, exemptions on license requirements and liability assumptions for participants in Operation Outdoor Freedom. Waters stated that not only are the participating veterans benefiting from these outdoor events, but those who have a part in making the events come to take place are rewarded by the knowledge that they have the satisfaction of expressing gratitude to the men and women that have made such a sacrifice for our country. If you feel compelled to find out more about Operation Outdoor Freedom, Ned Waters can be reached at or visit

February 2014

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 63

The Annual Cracker Trail Cross-State Ride Article and Photos By Kathy Gregg


buckskin horse in a burned-out field, with a bright yellow slicker – a winning photograph for me, and the start of an annual supper date with riders of the Florida Cracker Trail Association.

I first photographed a band of riders, with tents on the roadside, back in 1994 (the year I first moved to Wauchula). It was not until 2005 that I began to show an interest in this annual trek on horseback from Bradenton to Fort Pierce.

Following the original route taken by Florida’s cattle barons to get their cattle from west of Fort Pierce to the port across the state (at Punta Rassa) where the cattle were shipped to Havana, Cuba, this organization’s members are now on the 27th annual ride to re-create this important part of Florida’s history.

That buckskin horse in the photograph (whose name I found out is Little Joe) was recognized by the grandfather of a youth rodeo competitor in the fall of 2009. So come February of 2010, I headed to Duck and Susan Smith’s Bar Crescent S Ranch in western Hardee County, and tracked down Dan Word of Lake Butler, Florida, who is Little Joe’s owner. And so began my once-a-year get-together with Dan and his ride companion Bonnie Williamson of Miami; reminiscent of the Alan Alda, Ellen Burstyn movie “Same Time, Next Year”.

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Monday night is spent on the Parker Property where South Florida Avenue meets S.R. 64 in Zolfo Springs, and it’s also pork chop night for the evening meal. For the past couple of years, I have joined Dan and Red-headed Bonnie, and all of their friends, for that Monday night supper. Usually they have a ride wristband for me to use, but they have been known to sneak me through the chow line!

People from all over the country participate in this ride, with approximately 200 riders every year, ranging in age from 7 to 80+. The first ride was in 1987, the year that the Florida Legislature officially designated their route as “the Florida Cracker Trail,” and consisted of 170 riders and 12 wagons. Julie Hinote of Sebring was on that initial ride, as she has been on every one since (the only person to do all 27 rides).

Since they are not driving cattle, they ride the return route, gathering on Friday at the Kibler Ranch in eastern Bradenton, that will be February 14th this year. Then on Saturday, February 22nd, they parade through the streets of Fort Pierce to Harbour Pointe, where they ride their horses in the surf, and camp on the beach. (See this year’s route following this story.) February’s weather in Florida can vary greatly, as we are experiencing this winter. 2012 was so warm that they were February 2014

cooling the horses off in the Peace River. Then 2013 saw freezing temperatures (in the low 30’s) that week. It rained so much during the week of the 2006 ride that the trailers had to be towed out of the night’s camp, and relocated to Hickory Hammock. But, rain or shine, heat or cold, these intrepid riders and wagonneers will make it from Bradenton to Fort Pierce. Come watch them along their route, greet them at their camps, or cheer for them at the parade. And if you enjoy horseback riding, consider joining them next year; for a day or all week. I promise you that you will gain lifelong friends while taking part in this re-creation of a part of Florida’s cattle history. Me? I’m looking forward to nice weather on that Monday evening when I once again join Bonnie and Dan for supper (and see my buddy Little Joe), and I can only hope that the Pork Chop Police are not on duty!

This Year’s Ride Schedule Saturday is along S.R. 64 to western Hardee County, to the Bar Crescent S Ranch, where they spend 2 nights. Monday morning they ride off-road, lunching at Duck Smith’s cowpens across from the Vandolah power facility, then take back roads to South Florida Avenue to the Parker Property.

Tuesday they head east on S.R. 64, then about ¼ mile on S.R. 17 South, then east on S.R. 66, with a stop at the Zolfo Springs Elementary School. Lunch is hosted by the Putnam family on their beautiful property, and that night rancher Marvin Kahn is their host. (Kahn was the driving force behind the Florida Cracker Trail legislation.)

Wednesday is the day they cross Highway 27 (from S.R. 66 to S.R. 98), proudly carrying the American flag across this major intersection, plus a stop at the Cracker Trail Elementary School in Sebring. After riding along S.R. 98, that night is spent at Hickory Hammock. Thursday the ride takes them off-road through the Hammock, returning to S.R. 98, with the lunch break at the Edna Pearce Lockett estate on the south side of the Kissimmee River. They cross over the Kissimmee River Bridge, follow S.R. 98 to S.R. 68, and spend that night at the Swimmin’ Hole on the Bass Ranch. Friday they follow S.R. 68 (with about 5 miles going north on S.R. 441 north of Okeechobee) to the Adams Ranch for the night. This year they will be entertained at their awards presentation by the Shannon Reed Band (with activities at every night’s camp).

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 65

Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association Presents:

LaBelle Rodeo Grounds State Road 29



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1st place: $1500, Buckles, & Entry Fee to FCA Finals. 2nd place: $1000 3rd place: $500 Event winner: $250

Calf Branding Double Mugging Cowhide Drag Team Branding Team Sorting Bronc Riding

Vendors Welcome

Concession Stand On Site

Real, working Florida cowboys and cowgirls utilize their ropin’ & ridin’ skills in this competitive extravaganza to qualify for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association state finals in Kissimmee. This is a true display of cattle and horse handling abilities passed down from many generations ago. Team sponsors will be members in good standing with their county cattlemen’s association.

Benefitting Hendry County 4-H Adults: $5

Young’ens Under 10: FREE

For information contact: Marlene @ (863)674-4092 or Lindsey @ (863)673-5971 For Barrel Race info contact Sonya @ (239)289-7582 66 Heartland InTheFieldMagazine

February 2014

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Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 67

100 Young Years

and Still Clowning Around By Kathy Gregg

January 6th of this year marked a major milestone for one Port St. Lucie resident, Melvin Raymond “Mel” Brown turned 100 years young! Mel was born in Little Falls, New York, one of twelve siblings. He never graduated from school, having to go to work to help support the family. He was an Army grunt in World War II. In 1946, he married Donna Anthony of Canajoharie, where they resided with their family of four children, until they joined the ranks of Florida’s Snowbirds in 1984-85, spending winters in Port St. Lucie. They purchased their home there in 1989, and became permanent Florida residents. Mel was in the construction industry in New York, building an entire street of houses in Canajoharie. He then built and operated the Iroquois Lanes bowling alleys in 1960, added a restaurant and bar, then an appliance store, then a laundromat, then a carwash, and finally (when 2 of his kids needed summer jobs), a tasteefreez stand. He “retired” from these businesses in the late 1970’s, but he has never really retired! Since a young man, Mel has been a member of the Masons and the Shriners, and he has loved being a member of the Shriners Clown Units. He is well-known to the children of the area as “Chubby”. He has marched in the parades held at the annual Shriners Conventions in cities all over the United States and Canada. In fact, at the “young” age of 99 years and 11 months, Chubby marched the entire route of the St. Lucie Christmas Parade in December, handing out candy and balloon animals to the children. He has also been involved with their philanthropy, the Shriners Hospitals for Children, has raised large sums of funds for them and

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has sponsored several children for operations that have changed their lives. For countless years, he has gathered the pop-top rings from beverage cans, which (believe it or not) they have traded in for equipment for their hospitals. He obtained permission from the St. Lucie County schools to put a deposit box next to the vending machines, and regularly traveled to all of those schools to empty these boxes.

Mel (as Chubby), together with fellow Port St. Lucie resident Robert A. Lussier (“Smurfie”), have made regular appearances at the fundraisers put on by the Red Hat Gator Gals from Gator Trace. Over the years, they have raised in excess of $25,000 for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. So, it came as no surprise that the St. Lucie County Shrine Club hosted Mel’s 100th birthday party on January 4th at their clubhouse in Fort Pierce, with over 200 people in attendance. Mel’s four children came in from New York, Tennessee, and Boca Raton and Wauchula, Florida. His eight grandchildren came in from New York, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Tennessee, Colorado, and Fort Pierce, Florida, and five of his great-grandchildren came in from New York, South Carolina, and Fort Pierce. In addition, several Snowbird nieces and nephews were in attendance, and a large group of former employees and friends came down from New York to celebrate with him. There are five generations of Browns, with Mel’s son Alan, his daughter Tiffany, her daughter Giovante, and her son Wyatt. February 2014

Mel was presented with several awards, with the Amara Shrine Potentate proclaiming January 6th as “Mel Brown Day”. A letter was read from Congressman Patrick E. Murphy, an award from the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Shriners International. In addition, the Imperial Potentate of Shriners International wrote a personal letter acknowledging his many contributions to their hospitals, saying “we will be forever grateful for your service and brotherhood”. (In lieu of gifts, Mel requested donations to the Shrine Hospitals, and turned over all the money that was sent to him.) Among the many stories told about Mel that day, there is one that truly shows what a small world it is. In 1942, Mel was traveling by train from Fort Sill in Oklahoma to San Francisco, where he was to be shipped out for the war. He had just won some money playing cards, and wanted to treat his buddies to a drink. He gave the conductor $30 (imagine what that was worth back in 1942!), who came back with a case of Southern Comfort. Mel found it too sweet for his taste, so he got cups and treated everyone on the train to a drink. There were 2 young girls traveling to see their brother off (Betty was only 16 at the time), and even though underage, they partook of the Southern Comfort. Fast forward to the year 2012 – Mel is tending bar at one of the Shrine Club functions, and was telling this story to one of the men there. The lady sitting at the table says “I was one of those young girls on that train”. Betty now lives in Fort Pierce (and her drink of choice is still Southern Comfort!). And she gave Mel a specialmade card with the Southern Comfort logo! Nephew Walt Brown was the DJ for the party. In addition to playing music, Walt sings, and gave a rendition of “I Did It My Way” tailored to Mel’s life, that brought a tear to the Birthday Boy’s eyes. He ended with a group cheering of “God Bless the USA”.

One of the other traits that Mel is famous for is his dancing and he got out on the dance floor and boogied with all the women, young and old! There were photos displayed covering Mel’s lifetime, from 1922 to 2010. One of the photo boards showed him dancing through the years – and he hasn’t lost a beat!

And now that you have read this story, I can tell you that I am very proud to be one of Mel’s four children. I love you, Dad, and thank you for everything, from your little gimme girl (a quote from the Father’s Day card I sent you from London in 1972). February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 69

The Grandaddy of ‘Em All is Coming to Town! It’s that time of year again, when all those western cowboys like to come to sunny Florida for our PRCA rodeos, so make sure you mark your calendars for March 7-8-9 for the Arcadia Rodeo, fondly called the Granddaddy of ‘Em All! This will be the 86th annual Arcadia Rodeo, and the rodeo competition is sure to be as wild as ever. The Arcadia Rodeo Association prides itself on providing some of the best professional rodeo in the state of Florida, and to do so, they hire Frontier Rodeo Company for their stock and pick-up men. Along with them comes announcer Donny Gay, himself an 8-time world champion. Some of their bucking horses and bulls are repeat NFR champions. And to attract the cowboys and cowgirls, they offer top dollar in their payouts. So plan on a day (or two) at the Arcadia Rodeo. The rodeo grounds open at 11 a.m., just in time for a barbecue lunch. Come early on Saturday to see the parade through the streets of downtown Arcadia. The competition starts at 2 p.m., but before that, there is plenty to keep you occupied (besides the barbecue lunch) – the Shoot-Out Gang takes the arena by storm, and then the ever-popular mutton bustin’ takes place. (Preregistration of your 3-6-year-old child will guarantee them a spot in this competition.) There is the mechanical bull, and all the many vendors, food and otherwise. Buy yourself a cowboy hat, or get some western bling from Miss Brenda for that special girl in your life.

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This year’s barrelman/clown is Keith Isley of Goldston, North Carolina. In addition to his regular duties, Keith does trick roping and riding, and various animal routines and skits. Here’s hoping he still has that beautiful palomino horse!

REMEMBER to buy your tickets early – last year saw many people disappointed on Saturday when they arrived and it was sold out. If you can, come on Friday, it’s the least crowded day, with some of the best competitors in the arena. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www. or call (800) 749-7633. SEE Y’ALL AT THE ARCADIA RODEO! February 2014

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February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 71



Joel Chandler Harris


By Brady Vogt

ere is a story about a man and his creations that have served and continue to serve the American reader, literally as have no others. Joel Chandler Harris wrote with a fountain pen. One hundred eighty-five stories, twenty-seven books of the folk-tales, the oral traditions and the spoken words of a people in a place that are forever gone. It is likely that there is nowhere else in the history American literature where the folk-tales and sounded out words of the southern slave population is so well preserved, and is available for scholarly investigation, the satisfaction of one’s curiosity, and the joyful noise made by reading aloud to children. Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia, in 1845 and died in 1908. The town is about a hundred miles southeast of Atlanta and was in the path of General Sherman’s armies’ advance to the sea, the invasion and destruction of Georgia that broke the bones of the Confederacy. “Sherman’s March” caused lingering, festering, resentment of the Yankee army, carpet-baggers, and northern influences thrust upon the already suffering citizens.

Young Harris was sheltered for a time by a benevolent man in a mansion, Doctor Andrew Reid, who allowed him to go to school, and who gave laundry work to Harris’s abandoned mother. At age thirteen, he moved with his mother to a successful plantation owned by Joseph Addison Turner. He was apprenticed there as a “printer’s devil”. A “printer’s devil” was the boy who mixed tubs of ink and fetched the tiny bits of lead type that were used to assemble words to be printed upon newspaper pages. It is an interesting title, appropriate for a young boy whose hands were usually stained by black ink, and whose mixing the wrong type bits into the right type bits would cause mayhem in the printers shop. When

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it began, some three hundred years earlier, printing itself was considered to be a “black art” as in “the devil made me do it”. It was in Turner’s employ (his estates were known as February 2014

the Turnwald Plantation and his periodical that supported the Confederacy was called THE COUNTRYMAN) that young Joel Harris was first allowed to submit poems and essays for publication. Other young boys, who apprenticed for newspapers as “printers devils” include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ambrose Bierce, and Lyndon Johnson.

Before Turnwald was destroyed by the Yankee general with the scruffy beard, before the culturalal environment that was made of masters and slaves was suddenly obliterated by the war and the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Harris had an opportunity that afforded him a unique, one of a kind “encyclopedic” education. As he was poor, and Irish (with a thick scalp of bright red hair), and his mother had not been married by his father (whom he never knew), he was somewhat of an outsider in relation to the rich children of the plantation owners and their friends. He found comfort and friendship in the kitchens and stables, before the fields and the fires of the slaves that worked for Joseph Turner. If it had not been for this exposure, this passing away of the hours before a roaring fire or beneath lanterns and flickering candles, Joel Harris would not have learned of the oral traditions of the African tribes, the stories of animals engaged in a friendly but perpetual struggle to outwit each other. His genius is that he was able to remember, retain, and then recreate years later, that most particular language. The words amended into spelling-slang, and vernaculars particular to the single plantation society. The words of Uncle Remus and the creatures of the woods were put in order, into sentences, and the sentences into made into tales that supported concepts. There is likely no other single source of literature in America that so captures the moods and the inflections of the southern slave peoples before the end of the Civil War. It was for someone (who happened to be the youthful Joel Harris) to be in the right place at the right time, in order to have a chance to listen to and remember, how beautifully the people told their stories. After that awful war, the people began their own journeys, and with the slow assimilation into the general American society, began to lose that concentration of culture that had existed for a hundred years in the great cotton plantations in the South. Additionally remarkable, throughout his writings years, Joel Harris worked as a serious journalist for a number of newspapers in Georgia including THE MACON TELEGRAPH, THE NEW ORLEANS CRESCENT MONTHLY, THE MONROE ADVERTISER, THE SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS, and finally, for THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. It is entirely consistent that a man who could write with such empathy about the stories told in the slave quarters, would champion reconciliation and reform as a columnist and editor of newspapers that were read by a somewhat embittered public.

February 2014

UNCLE REMUS HIS SONGS AND SAYINGS began as a column in THE ATLANTA CONSITUTION. The first collection of stories was published by D. Appleton Company in 1881. Uncle Remus’s accounts of the animals, told in the words of a disappearing society, an obscure culture, were enormously popular. Near the end of his days, Joel Chandler Harris was considered along with Mark twain, to be not only the most successful writer of his times, but one of the most beloved men in America. In later years, Ralph Ellison (the author of THE INVISIBLE MAN) said that Harris’s “comedy was a disguised form of philosophical instruction, and that animal instincts are what lay beneath the surface of civilized affectations”. Some notable persons have not been so kind. Alice Walker, the author of THE COLOR PURPLE, and who was coincidentally born in the small town of Eatonton, stated that Harris had not done her people any favors, that he had stolen another race’s heritage and made it into a “white man’s commodity”. Rubbish. Nonsense. While in Savannah, Harris lived in a hotel called The Florida House, later to become The Marshall House (now the oldest hotel in Savannah). He married a lady by the name of Esther LaRose, whose father was a ship’s captain that carried goods along the Georgia and Florida coasts. When he began to become wealthy, Joel and Esther bought a house outside Atlanta and named it The Wren’s Nest, which is operated today as a museum.

Uncle Remus was a kindly old man, a former slave, to whom the children came to hear stories about Brother Rabbit, and Brother Fox, and Brother Turtle, and of course, the TarBaby. The stories are easy on the reader. They appeal to the young at heart, the innocent. The storytelling as created by Joel Chandler Harris preserved folk-tales brought in chains from Africa. Written out in longhand, on plain sheets of paper, with a fountain pen. Imagine, one hundred and eighty some stories, where nearly every other word needed to be misspelled, altered that is, to capture the sound of the spoken word of the people, for whom a dictionary and book learning might as well have been on the moon. The language and the stories preserved forever a beauty and tenderness that existed below that cursed institution.

Early printings of Harris’s books are very valuable. The most expensive copy of UNCLE REMUS HIS SONGS AND SAYINGS is listed by Peter J. Stern Bookseller, at a cool $15,000.00. Nearly all editions of the twenty-seven books are illustrated, many in color, and there is nothing like a picture to set the mind in motion. In 1946, Walt Disney created and produced THE SONG OF THE SOUTH. The movie was one of the first to combine live actors with animated characters. Uncle Remus was played by a man named James Baskett, who had no previous film appearances and who thus would have no other roles that might diminish the importance of there being only one Uncle Remus.

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To celebrate Florida’s rich citrus heritage, the Highlands Museum of the Arts (MoTA) will be hosting two citrus exhibits from March 1 – May 31.

The two exhibits from the Museum of Florida History include: 1) Florida Citrus Labels - A collection of 24 citrus labels that represent the thousands used in Florida between the late 1800s and the 1960s.

2) Crate Expectations: An Exhibit of Florida Citrus Crate Labels - Between the late 1800s and the 1960s, colorful labels decorated the ends of wooden crates that transported Florida citrus produce to northern markets.

In addition to the citrus art housed inside MoTA, Miami-based artist Hector Neiblas will refurbish and paint farm equipment and machinery, which will be displayed as outdoor art around the Museum for visitors to view. Any agriculturalist interested in donating equipment and/or machinery, please contact Casey Wohl at or (863) 6401743 no later than Feb. 21.

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MoTA is located at 351 W. Center Avenue in Downtown Sebring’s Allen Altvater Cultural Center on the shores of Lake Jackson. It is part of the four-building Highlands Art League (HAL), which also offers art classes, workshops and programs for children and adults, as well as a gallery and gift shop. While the citrus exhibit is on display, HAL will be offering various art classes with citrus and citrus-related topics and themes, including its popular Art Uncorked classes.

Hotel packages complete with accommodations, admission to MoTA, fresh-squeezed orange juice, citrus gift bag and more will be available April-May at Sebring’s Inn on the Lakes.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the exhibit, volunteering at MoTA or for general information, please visit www. or call (863) 385-5312.

February 2014

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Mixon Farm is still one of the state’s leading Gift Fruit Shippers, however, with the changes in regulations,  the Mixon’s knew they had to diversify and became a part of the tourism industry by adding to the farm.  Mixon Fruit Farms now, includes  a large, 14,000 sq ft. gift shoppe , deli, homemade fudge, orange swirl ice cream, festivals, tours through the grove, a wildlife education center, an amazing wedding and events area and tropical gardens and children’s play area.  The Mixon family hosted a luncheon on January 9th  to celebrate the business.  They invited many other family owned business owners that have been in business over 40 years.  They had a great attendance of approximately 170 people including county commossioners, Mayor Bryant, Sheriff Steube, Rep. Jim Boyd and Governor Rick Scott.

“We look forward to sharing this day with the people of our community”, says Dean Mixon. “We have been a place where people make “Mixon Memories” and this will be ixon Fruit Farms started in 1939 with a little one more memory for the people of our area”. Mixon Fruit roadside fruit stand with Rosa and Willie Mixon Farm is located at 2525 27th St E , Bradenton.  For more and their six children.  Through the years the information call 941-748-5829.



farm grew to 350 acres. Now, 75 years later, there is only 50 acres of citrus at the 2525 27th St E , Bradenton location. 

Submit your photos and events for Heartland Happenings to

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consideration in Lakeland and Winter Haven with the program expanding to Sebring this year. The Sebring CRA will host six sculptures that will be installed in Downtown Sebring no later than March 7. The exhibition will run from March 8, 2014 – Jan. 25, 2015. The following artists and sculptures will be featured: • • •



aste Management/Okeechobee Landfill team participated in the Florida Cattlewomen’s Association fun shoot at Quail Creek Plantation on Jan. 11, 2014. Pictured:  Sr. District Manager Tony Bishop, Community Relations Teresa Chandler, Operations Manager Jason Johns and Gas Technician James Beville.

• • •

Hanna Jubran – Grimesland, NC “The Three Graces” made of steel, coated iron & paint; 6’ x 8’ x 3’. Location: Centennial Park Craig Gray – Key West, FL “Slices of Heaven” made of concrete combined with limestone; 2’ x 1’ x 3’6”. Location: Highlands Art League Aisling Millar – Greenville, NC “Bealtine” made of steel; 7’11” x 2’ x 1’. Location: Highlands Art League/Cultural Center Jack Howard-Potter – New York, NY “Winged Glory” made of galvanized, powdercoated steel; 8’5” x 7’4” x 5’2. Location: Circle Park Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC “Father and Son” made of painted steel; 5’5” x 4’ x 4’5”. Location: Near Rotary Park Karyn Adamek – Lutz, FL “Iron Horses” made of recycled metal; 6’ x 8’ x 3’. Location: Centennial Park

Sculptures will be secured on a concrete slab and accompanied by a plaque with details about the artist and sculpture. Any artist is welcome to submit their work directly to the PMoA for consideration in next year’s competition.



he Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is pleased to be participating in the 14th Annual Florida Outdoor Sculpture Competition this year. The competition is hosted each year by the Polk Museum of Art (PMoA) as more than 50 pieces of outdoor sculptures are submitted for exhibit February 2014

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AG CALENDAR FEBRUARY 1ST Miss Rodeo Okeechobee Pageant Okeechobee County Cattlemen Association, FEBRUARY 1ST-9TH Charlotte County Fair Port Charlotte, www.

FEBRUARY 15TH-22ND National FFA Week FEBRUARY 15TH-22ND Hardee County Fair Wauchula, FEBRUARY 15TH Woodcarvers Show Turner Center, Arcadia, FEBRUARY 17TH President’s Day FEBRUARY 18TH 2014 Annual Business Showcase Desoto Chamber of Commerce Turner AgriCivic Center, Arcadia 3:30p-6:30p FEBRUARY 19TH- 22ND 22nd Annual Antique Engine & Tractor Show

FEBRUARY 2ND Groundhog Day FEBRUARY 4TH-7TH Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show Nashville, TN, FEBRUARY 6TH-17TH Florida State Fair Tampa, FEBRUARY 7TH-15TH Highlands County Fair Sebring, 77th Year of Food, Fun & Thrills,

FEBRUARY 22ND Powered for A Cure Golf Tournament Lake Placid, FEBRUARY 22ND-23RD Swamp Cabbage Festival & Rodeo Barron Park, rodeo at Labelle Rodeo Ground FEBRUARY 26TH-MARCH 2ND 46th Annual Pioneer Days Zolfo Springs, 863-773-2161

FEBRUARY 12TH-16TH 76th Annual Brighton Field Day & Rodeo - Fred Smith Rodeo Arena,

FEBRUARY 27TH-MARCH 9TH 2014 Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair Bayshore Rd., North Ft. Myers, FEBRUARY 28TH-MARCH 9TH St. Lucie County Fair PRCA ProRodeo 2/28 & 3/1 Fort Pierce, FEBRUARY 28TH-MARCH 1ST Chalo Nitka Festival & Rodeo Glades County, Moore Haven, www.chalonitkacom MARCH 1ST-2ND Mixon Fruit Farms Orange Blossom Festival, MARCH 8TH Boots and Barndances Kingsway Country Club, Lake Suzy, 863-494-1068 MARCH 11TH-16TH Okeechobee County Fair MARCH 12TH-13TH FCA/FCW Quarterly, Tallahassee MARCH 30TH Bird Expo Sebring, Johnson & Johnson Wood Products APRIL 19TH Viva la Brahman Fiesta Sale Moreno Ranches,, 1:00pm

FEBRUARY 14TH Valentine’s Day & National Organ Donor Day, FEBRUARY 14TH-22ND Hendry County Fair & Livestock Show Clewiston,

FEBRUARY 27TH-MARCH 9TH Florida Strawberry Festival Plant City,

FEBRUARY 27TH National Strawberry Day

APRIL 25TH-26TH Women In the Outdoors, Quail Creek, Okeechobee, 772-475-1158

Submit your events for the ag calendar to

IN THE FIELD MAGAZINE Your Monthly Agricultural Magazine Since 2004, Serving the Heartland Since 2008

February 2014

Heartland InTheFieldMagazine 79

Heartland’s Growing Businesses


THE SHOE MAN HAS MOVED! David Clark Shoe Repair

Repair • Build-Up • Modifications

Now located in the Lakeshore Mall, Sebring (Across from Kay Jewelers)

M-F 8:00am-5:00pm Sat 8:00am-12:00pm David Clark, Sr. 863.873.1688

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Bee Barn is Now Open!

February 2014

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February 2014

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Purina Impact Horse Feed $2 OFF per bag! We carry 10% and 12% Textured (Sweet) and Pelleted Come get yours today!

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Some restrictions apply, see dealer for complete details . Some pictured items may have been used for display purposes only. Leases must go through John Deere Financial. With great deals on new tractors and gators all year long, check with your local dealer for additional savings.

Feb 2014  
Feb 2014  

Heartland In The Field Magazine Florida Row Crops: An Industry of Rich History!