Hillsborough100 Conservation Challenge

Page 1

Hillsborough 100

CONSERVATION CHALLENCE CHALLENGE Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District

In proud partnership with   Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


– Father of Soil Conservation With a career deeply rooted in soil surveys, Hugh Hammond Bennett has long been recognized as “the father of soil conservation” and the mastermind behind the establishment of soil and water conservation districts. Born in 1881, Bennett grew up working with his farming family in Anson County, N.C., where to keep the land from washing away, he learned as a child the importance of laying terrace lines and digging channels in hilly grounds. Bennett came of age in the early 1900’s, when wheat prices were high and agriculture in the Great Plains states brought unprecedented plowing to more than 1 million acres of soil, which for thousands of years had been protected from the elements by lush grasslands. Armed with a college degree earned in 1903 from the University of North Carolina, where he studied chemistry and geology, Hammond landed his first job, digging and classifying soil types for the Bureau of Soils in Washington, D.C., as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Two years later, in Louisa County, Va., Bennett investigated dropping crop yields from a field that was, in equal parts, both lush natural forest and dry and friable cropland. This led to an “epiphany” for Bennett, who “realized at that moment that how we treat the soil will determine its long-term productivity,” said Dave White, a former chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).“He was into sustainability before we knew what it was.” A prolific writer and orator, Bennett studied soils throughout the nation and internationally, warning against the “enormous cost of soil wastage by erosion and excessive loss of rainwater runoff from unprotected cultivated slopes and from overgrazed ranges and pastures.” This he wrote in a 1929 article that addressed Congressional approval “for studying the whole problem of erosion and for developing practical


methods of control.” The result was USDA funding for 10 experiment soil research centers in the hardest hit areas of the country, which Bennett was chosen to lead. In October 1929, the stock market crashed.The resulting Great Depression and plummeting wheat prices led panicked farmers to plow even more land to recoup their losses. Prices dropped further and farmers abandoned their fields, resulting in a mass exodus out of the Great Plains states from 1930 through 1935. Left behind were millions of acres of exposed soil, their protective grasses long since plowed. In an era of drought and depression the winds started to blow, creating huge dust storms that led to the descriptor,“black blizzards.”The Dust Bowl hit America hard. Upon taking office in 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt implemented experimental programs known collectively as the New Deal, aimed to stabilize the economy and bring people out of poverty. Soil erosion, recognized as a national epidemic, was addressed with the August 1933 establishment of the Soil Erosion Service, a governmental emergency relief organization that Bennett was asked to lead. “We Americans have been the greatest destroyers of land of any race or people, barbaric or civilized,” Bennett said at the time.“Unless immediate steps are taken to restore grass to millions of acres of these sun-scorched, wind-eroded lands we shall have on our hands a new man-made Sahara [desert], where formerly was rich grazing land.” Armed with a core group of engineers, biologists, economists, soil surveyors and technicians, Bennett

|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

set about his work, developing a “Farm Conservation Plan” prepared individually for farmers for their lands, as opposed to a one- size fits-all approach. Farmers with this “green team” of experts were to work with nature, and not against it, putting together a conservation plan out of a host of conservation activities, considering as well the land’s place within the watershed. In 1933, the Coon Creek Watershed Project near La Crosse,Wisconsin, became the nation’s first largescale demonstration project for soil and water conservation. It involved many practices still in use today, including contour strips, terraces, and grassed waterways. As the Dust Bowl raged on, Congress met in 1934 to address “black blizzards” that had limited visibility to just a few feet. One resulting action was to establish the Soil Conservation Service as a permanent agency under the USDA, to be headed by Bennett, the man who in 1905 had reportedly predicted the type of dust storm that had darkened the nation’s capital as deliberations for the permanent agency were underway. The soil conservation bill approved in 1935 was the first of its kind here and abroad and codified the importance of involving local voices in the conservation effort. It created a blueprint for local organizations to help farmers and ranchers with their unique issues. In 1937, the Brown Creek Soil Conservation District became America’s first, rooted in Anson County, N.C., where Bennett learned to farm and respect the land as a youngster in his father’s cotton fields. Today, more than 3,000 soil and water conservation districts exist nationwide.With a name change in 1994, the USDA Soil Conservation Service had become the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, to better reflect the scope of work beyond just the soil itself. As the work continues, so too does the legacy of Bennett, the father of soil conservation, who retired in 1951 and died in 1960, seeing the fruits of his labor playing out as he had planned. As he said in the year before his death,“from every conceivable angle, economic, social, cultural, public health, national defense, conservation of natural resources is an object on which all should agree”.

George Washington Carver – Agricultural Innovator Known as the “peanut man” and father of crop rotation, George Washington Carver left his mark as a scientist, agronomist, educator, researcher, and experimenter whose great mind and many discoveries helped revolutionize southern farming and so much more. A self-described “creative research chemist,” Carver was born into slavery a few years before it was abolished; both his father and mother dead and lost to him before he passed through infancy. Repurchased from slave traders by a slave owner whose name he bears, Carver’s birth date is unknown, but placed at around 1864 near Diamond Grove, Missouri. He died an octogenarian. Throughout his life Carver earned many distinctions, not the least of which was the development of hundreds of new products and recipes derived from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans, including “printer’s ink, butter, shampoo, creosote, vinegar, dandruff care, instant coffee, dyes, rubberoid compound, soups, salads and wood stains.” So writes Glenn Clark in his book, “The Man Who Talks With the Flowers, The Intimate Life Story of Dr. George Washington Carver.” The author had a long and enduring friendship with the book’s namesake. Upon realizing the single crop of southern cotton was “wearing out the rich Alabama soils and impoverishing the debt-burdened share cropper,” Clark writes that Carver published and delivered farming bulletins and speeches urging farmers to grow crops in rotation. “He discovered that the sweet potato and the peanut were crops which this soil brought forth in great abundance,” Clark said. “He preached the gospel of rotating cotton crops with peanut

and sweet potato crops.” Following Carver’s advice in large numbers, farmers found they were producing more peanuts and sweet potatoes than the market could bear, which led to another problem for which Carver delivered yet another solution. “He didn’t tackle it by asking the government to give federal aid nor did he demand that it restrict planting,” Clark said. “He tackled [the problem] in the chemistry laboratory and licked it there. He discovered 300 new uses for the peanut and 150 new uses for the sweet potato and before he was through he had rebuilt the agriculture of the south.” Carver spent most of his career teaching and conducting research at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, which today is known as Tuskegee University. The school in 1896 was headed by Booker T. Washington, who invited Carver to direct Tuskegee’s newly organized department of agriculture. That Carver had a deep love and respect for education and nature is attested to not only through his works but also through his words. The “ideal chemist of the future” he said, is “an investigator, one who dares to think and work with an independent freedom not permissible heretofore, unfolding before our very eyes a veritable mystic maze of new and useful products from material almost or quite beneath our feet and now considered of little or no value.” This is the work of the “creative chemist,” Carver added, in the 1939 quote in Clark’s book, “and it is to this group of workers that the whole civilized world must look for its greatest development.” history.com

Hugh Hammond Bennett

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |




In Memoriam Honoring Our Board Chairman

MICHAEL HEPBURN It is with deepest sorrow that we announce the passing of our Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors Chairman, Michael Hepburn, who left us on March 19, 2021. Michael served the District with great distinction, supporting many programs, from our annual Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge to our annual Great Plant Auction, with proceeds going to HSWCD youth programs and scholarships. The Board of Supervisors is proud to recognize Mike with a youth scholarship in his name and a tree planted in an area park. Details on both are available on the District website. Please know that Mike greatly enjoyed public service and felt it an honor to serve Hillsborough County.

Who we are and

ers. Projects include road and river cleanups; recycling of paper, plastic and electronics; butterfly and pollinator gardens; tree plantings; and more.The District also coordinates the Lipman Garden Challenge that will continue in the fall with over 40 schools participating. Because agricultural, conservation and environmental education are so vital, the District presents programs for schools and civic clubs throughout the year, In addition, HSWCD can be found at over a dozen fairs and festivals annually, Districts consist of five elected Supervisors that serve a four year term. In Hillsborough County’s last general election in November 2020, 3 to 5 individuals ran in each race, with over 500,000 votes cast for each seat.Winning Supervisors received between 200 and 300 thousand votes each. Currently serving on the Board are Kathy Eckdahl,Vice-Chairman; Andrew Brooks,Treasurer; Sonja Brookins and Karen Cox Jaroch. The professional staff includes Executive Director Betty Jo Tompkins; Stephanie Farmer-Collins, Community Outreach Technician and Linda Chion, Computer Graphics. When the conservation movement was initiated because of the Dust Bowl, few realized the scope of activities that would ensue. Today, the challenges of natural resource protection are greater than ever, not just in the United States, but worldwide.“The reality is that 2 million lose their lives annually due to ingesting polluted water, with 20 million debilitated. In addition, we must double agricultural production by the year 2050 or we’ll be facing potential starvation worldwide” states HSWCD Executive Director Betty Jo Tompkins.“Our work is more important now, than ever, and we’re passionate about what we do.”


Wonder what Conservation Districts are all about? Conservation Districts were established by the Florida Legislature under Florida Statue 582 in 1937 to help oversee the state’s natural resource management. Shortly thereafter, the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District was created. Over the years, as challenges have faced our natural resources, the District has grown and adapted to meet emerging needs. The Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District is built around the philosophy that “Conservation is Everybody’s Business” and programs, projects and activities are designed for inner-city, urban, suburban and rural communities alike. You might wonder,“does Hillsborough County have much agriculture”? The answer is absolutely YES! Hillsborough is the 3rd largest agricultural county in the state of Florida and ranks 119th out of over 3,000 counties nationally.Agricultural commodities within the county include row crops, such as strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, squash, peppers and so many more.There’s also apiaries, citrus, cattle, ornamental horticulture, and aquaculture, among other commodities. The HSWCD’s logo illustrates some of the District’s activities, including environmental education, local working groups, cost share programs, grants, legislation, ag producer seminars, best practices programs, etc.The cost share program, conducted in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture, provides partial funding for agricultural operators that initiate conservation practices.The District offers youth programming covering poster and speech contests, envirothon (environmental Olympics), land judging, school programs and Ag Venture. In 2017 the District established the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, with the following goal:To create an integrated program that brings enhanced conservation awareness and education to individuals of all ages, ethnicities, and socio-economic groups throughout Hillsborough County and beyond. Participants in the Challenge include agricultural organizations, businesses and corporations, churches, civic groups, educational institutions, governmental entities, schools and oth-


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors are elected to fill four-year terms. Top row, Kathy Eckdahl, (Vice Chair, Seat 1) and Andrew Brooks (Treasurer, Seat 5), Bottom row, Sonja Brookins (Seat 4) and Karen Cox Jaroch (Seat 2).

Vice Chairman Kathy Eckdahl – Vice-Chair Eckdahl represents District 1 on the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District Board. She is a twenty-plus year educator in Hillsborough County schools, having been involved in environmental education for a number of years. This year she’s part of Hillsborough Virtual and has found this to be an exciting time to be involved in virtual education. “I really am gratified that we’ve been able to assist farmers with soil and water conservation issues, whether it’s in ornamental horticulture, blueberries, strawberries and so much more! Of course, we’re pleased to offer services to the community at large, and that includes both youth and adults.” Treasurer Andrew Brooks – Board Treasurer Andrew Brooks is a native of Tampa, and received his education at Sickles High School and the University of South Florida, where he received a degree in Criminology. In fact, Andrews parents, Mike and Betty, also still reside here. Andrew has been a frequent visitor to area parks since his childhood. As he grew up he began to appreciate the value of Tampa Bay’s wonderful waters for fishing and boating. He further developed an interest in self sustainable farming and forestry throughout Florida. On most weekends, he can be found camping, fishing, kayaking, and hiking the area’s springs, rivers and parks. According to Brooks, “Serving as a Supervisor gives me the opportunity to volunteer with so many District projects that protect and enhance our environment and natural resources. In addition to my work as a Supervisor, I enjoy playing ice hockey and flying rc Airplanes”. Brooks represents District 5 on the HSWCD Board. Supervisor Sonja Brookins – Dr. Sonja Brookins is a native of Hillsborough County. She participated in 4-H and stu-

dent advisory committee while at Chamberlain High School. She’s a graduate of Austin Peay State University, Prairie View A & M University and Texas Chiropractic College. She currently represents District 4 on the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District and is on the Board of Directors for the Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties Democratic Environmental Caucuses. She also serves on the Board for LEADS and the Health Care Advisory Board. Dr. Brookins notes, “I’m involved in many committees in Tampa Bay that push progressive visions. My goal is to increase awareness of environmentalism and conservation.” She is also a retired science educator with HCPS, mother of two adult children and has 3 grandchildren. Supervisor Karen Cox Jaroch – Soil and Water Conservation District 2 Supervisor Karen Jaroch has a passion for community service and Hillsborough County where she and her husband of 32 years chose to raise their four children. Karen is a licensed Professional Engineer and certified by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as a Stormwater, Erosion and Sediment Control Inspector. Karen previously represented residents for six years on the Hillsborough area Regional Transit (HART) Board where she ensured HART was financially sustainable and balanced the mobility needs of all residents in the community. Her HSWCD goals include building consensus and pursuing partnerships with local farms, civic and environmental groups and the school system. Karen reports her philosophy is most compatible with Ronald Reagan who summarized environmental conservation this way, “Preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge”…Our health, happiness and prosperity “will be sustained by working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”

Meet the Staff HSWCD Executive Director Betty Jo Tompkins joined the staff in November 2015, following service as Chairman of the Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors. She had followed her husband, Chris Tompkins, and son, Christopher Tompkins, on the Board and as Chairman. A Florida Gator in public relations, agriculture and sociology, her career has included serving as Executive Director of both the Greater Brandon Chamber and Farm Bureau, as well as work in government representation as a lobbyist. Betty Jo’s commitment to agriculture stretches back decades. She’s involved in numerous agricultural, civic and youth organizations, including member and past president of the Hillsborough and Florida 4-H Foundations, president and Board member of the Hillsborough County Fair and past District Governor of Rotary International. She is the President of the Florida Conservation Districts Employees Association and was named by the National Association of Conservation Districts to its Southeast Hall of Fame. “I feel blessed to work with a committed Board of Supervisors who shares my belief that Conservation Is Everybody’s Business” states Tompkins. Hillsborough Soil and Water Outreach Technician Stephanie Collins is the newest member of the HSWCD department. As an award-winning agricultural journalist, Stephanie brings a broad knowledge of agriculture from row crops to youth programs. Her position focuses on educating not only adults, but also youth about conservation through contests, events, and other methods.

Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation Plant Auction Team takes a break at the annual County Fair event. The 2021 Auction will be Sunday afternoon, October 3rd at the Fairgrounds during the Hillsborough County Fair, 215 Sydney Washer Road in Dover.   Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Plastic Pollution Teaching the “4 B’s” Bad, Bad, Better, Best Looking at today’s worldwide pollution problem, it’s easy to see why “Conservation is Everybody’s Business”. Each and every day more and more plastic enters the waste stream, with mountains of plastic filling rivers and streams and chocking landfills and waste facilities. In fact, plastic bags are one of the most damaging items collection centers deal with since they clog and destroy machinery. One of the biggest offenders for the environment is the single use plastic bag found in grocery stores. Starting with the green bags in the produce department, they are the first ”bad”, taking 500 years to degrade in a landfill.Add to that the second “bad”, another plastic bag at the front of the store and another 500 years to degrade. According to National Geographic,“ At the current use rate of a trillion bags a year, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.” Always preferable is to use paper bags, which are “better” or recycle bags which are the “best”. In fact, six of the top ten contributors to marine debris are single use plastic products, such as disposable food and beverage containers, plastic bags, utensils, and drinking

straws, according to the Ocean Conservancy.The problem is not one isolated to this country, but rather worldwide. The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of over 1,200 organizations, businesses and thought leaders in 75 countries working towards a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, waterways, the ocean and the environment. Other groups working to protect our lakes, rivers and oceans include the Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Oceana, 5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Ocean Foundation, Plastic

Pollution Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Naturel Resources Defense Council, Lonely Whale Foundation, and Bye, Bye Plastic Bags, among others. Do your part. It’s easy. Just buy one recycle bag each time you shop and you’ll soon have enough to lower your plastic impact.Then make sure you eliminate single use drink containers, plastic straws and other plastic and styrofoam products. Remember, protecting the environment is the responsibility of each and every one of us!!

Lipman Family Farms Garden Challenge Returns Fall 2021 The ever popular Lipman Garden Challenge, sponsored by Lipman Family Farms and the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, will return in the fall 2021 with the largest number of participating schools ever. The

Challenge, postponed earlier this year due to COVID, had previously included twenty-six schools. “We’re really pleased that schools signing up for the Fall Challenge have already exceeded 40”, reports HSWCD Executive Director, Betty Jo Tompkins. “Part of the popularity of the program is due to the fact that it helps students enhance their abilities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)”. The program, open to students in public, private, parochial, charter, home and virtual school settings, is an excellent way to learn about the science and art of agriculture. Participating schools each receive two


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

48 x 84 inch planter boxes and a gift card for soil and nutrients ($100.00 for new groups and $50.00 for returning ones). In addition, Lipman Farms provides transplants of cherry, grape, plum and round tomatoes, as well as cantaloupes, watermelons and peppers, with a few surprises thrown in. Students learn how many elements affect agricultural production, including weather, water, plant nutrition, insects and others. Gardens will be judged at the end of 2021 with awards including checks, plaques and parties for schools with the winning entries. Also being judged will be record books provided by the entrants.

HSWCD is adding some additional competition events related to the Challenge, to be announced in September. To register your school or group, contact Betty Jo Tompkins at bjt6890@yahoo. com or tompkinsb@hillsboroughcounty. org or call 813.477.8332. Additional information is also available on the Conservation District website, www. hillsboroughSWCD.com

Fairs and Festivals.... Save the Dates

The Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District supports and participates in a wide range of Fairs and Festivals throughout the year. Listed below are just some of the events coming up in the next 12 months: Make plans to attend and stop by the HSWCD exhibit. We’d love to meet you and answer your questions about agriculture, conservation and the environment! April 22 – May 2, 2021 Florida State Fair 4800 US Highway 301 North,Tampa, Florida 33510 – Fabulous showcase of Florida Agriculture with exhibits, shows, fantastic fair food, entertainment.Woman of the Year in Agriculture Luncheon – April 26, 2021.Visit HSWCD booth in Ag Hall of Fame building. Phone: (813) 621.7821; www.floridastatefair.com. September 23 – 26 and Sept. 30 – Oct. 3. 2021 Hillsborough County Fair

February 3-14, 2022 Florida State Fair 4800 US Highway 301 North,Tampa, Florida 33510 – Fabulous showcase of Florida Agriculture with exhibits, shows, fantastic fair food, entertainment, plus Taste of Florida Breakfast, Governors Lunch,Women of the Year in Ag Luncheon,Ag Hall of Fame Dinner, Champion of Champions and more. Visit HSWCD booth in Ag Hall of Fame building. Phone: (813) 621.7821; www.floridastatefair.com.

215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover, Florida 33527 – Enjoy agricultural and other exhibits, animals, and special events. Phone: (813) 737.FAIR; www. hillsboroughcountyfair.com . Harvest Awards – September 23, 2021; HSWCD Youth Plant Show – duration of the Fair; HSWCD Great Plant Auction – October 3, 2021.Visit HSWCD booth and poster display in Main Exhibit Building. For information on HSWCD events visit www.hillsboroughswcd.com and see fair website as events are added.

March 3 – 13, 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival 303 Berryfest Place (between Hwy 574/Reynolds Street and Hwy 92/Baker Street), Plant City, Florida 33563 – The South’s largest Festival celebrating strawberries with exhibits, livestock shows, live grandstand entertainment, a Grand Parade and of course every type of super strawberry food! Farm Credit Agriculture Breakfast and Grand Parade Luncheon.Visit HSWCD booth in Grimes Building. Phone: (813) 752.9194; www.flstrawberryfestival.com.

November 17, 2021 Florida Ag Expo UF Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Wimauma, Florida 33598 – Agricultural trade show featuring wide range of agricultural exhibits from throughout the state, as well as tours. Phone: (352) 671.1909; www.floridaagexpo.net.

March 26-27,2022 – Tampa Green Fest and Flower Show “The Sporting Life”, Tampa Garden Club 2629 Bayshore Blvd.,Tampa, Florida 33629 – flower, garden and horticulture exhibits and demonstrations. www.tampagardenclub.com.

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Land Judging is a soil survey contest for middle- and high-school students who visit recently dug earthen pits, where they work in teams to determine soil makeup and conditions. (Contact the HSWCD to determine if a contest will be scheduled later this year, in keeping with current COVID-19 restrictions.) Also open to youth of all ages in the Tampa Bay area is the annual Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, which this year is set to showcase projects from April 17 through May 9. (The challenge also allows for new and ongoing activities throughout the year.) Adults and children, working alone and in groups, are encouraged to choose and design Hillsborough 100 “Action Awareness Projects” that drive home the point that “Conservation is Everybody’s Business.” The comprehensive and wide-reaching challenge involves individuals, schools, clubs, scouting troops, community organizations, businesses, nonprofits and more. Past efforts have included girl scouts painting rain barrels for a food pantry nonprofit; road and waterfront trash cleanups; and the Lipman Garden Challenge for school-based gardening efforts at participating schools and educational facilities. Inclusivity is both the aim and hallmark of HSWCD youth initiatives. “We pride ourselves in the fact that all of our programs, projects and activities are open to students in public, private, parochial, charter, home and virtual school settings,” said Betty Jo Tompkins, executive director of the HSWCD. “Most importantly, our programming is geared to inner city, urban, suburban and rural communities alike.” The overarching aim is to conserve and protect natural resources today and for future generations. “With our core belief in mind, that conservation is everybody’s business, we have to teach every individual at every age to take responsibility for the stewardship of our natural resources,” Tompkins said. “The ultimate survival of the planet depends on young people developing responsible stewardship of the land, water and air.”

Conservation and Kids – Contests and Events

Involving youth in the business of conservation is a driving mission of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, resulting in a host of year-round programs, projects and activities for students of all ages. Offerings run the range from poster, speech and (soon to launch) photo contests, to hands-on, team-based competitive learning opportunities tied to specific levels of education. Ag-Venture at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa provides an agriculture education experience for youth. Through hands-on activities, students learn about the impact agriculture has on daily life as they gain a deeper understanding of where their food comes from. Ag-Venture is open to all youngsters at the Ag Hall of Fame building during the Florida State Fair, beginning Earth Day, April 22 to May 2. Envirothon is the “Environmental Olympics” for high school students that puts five-member teams to the test in five areas, including an annual current issue. Rounding out the areas are aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife.

“Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators” - PLACING FIRST

Placing First from left to right, David Abrego (K-1), Armando Rios (2-3), Hensley Anson-Yevu (4-6) and Rebecca Holcomb (7-9).

“Save Water, Live Stronger” - PLACING FIRST

Placing First from left to right, Eduardo Morales (K-1), Armando Rios (2-3), and Hensley Anson-Yevu (4-6).


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

POSTER CONTESTS HSWCD holds at least two poster contests annually, including one that is held in conjunction with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). Winning entries in multiple grade categories advance to area and state competitions, and to the national competition sponsored by the NACD. All entries are set for display at the Hillsborough County Fair opening on September 23, 2021. Each contest entry earns its creator a free fair ticket. There are cash prizes for first- second and third-place finishers in each category level. Honorable mention awards are given as well and all participants receive a certificate that includes an image of their entry. The junior category is for kindergarten through grade 1, grades 2-3, and grades 4-6. The senior category is for grades 7-9 and grades 10-12. The HSWCD also conducts a summer poster contest open to students in the same age categories, also with certificates and cash prizes awarded. The deadline for entries for the 2021 HSWCD/NACD poster competition is April 30. The theme is “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities,” which must appear on each poster’s artwork, created to express the significance of this year’s NACD soil stewardship theme. Any media can be used, including paint, crayon, colored pencil, charcoal, stickers, paper or other materials. Poster size must be 14-inches by 22-inches, which is half the size of a standard poster board. Likewise, April 30 is the deadline for the HSWCD speech contest, which also focuses on the theme, “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.” Highest-scoring speakers in two categories (grades 6-8 and grades 9-12) advance to area competition. Cash prizes are awarded for first- second and third-place finishers and each non-winning speaker receives a prize as well. The 2020 HSWCD/NACD poster contest featured the theme, Where Would We BEE Without Pollinators. First place winners were David Abrego, (K-1), Armando Rios (2-3), Hensley Anson-Yevu (4-6), and Rebecca Holcomb (7-9). Placing second, Eduardo Morales (K-1), Quinnton Ricks and Sanaa McCall (2-3, in a tie) and Makiya Bradford (4-6). Placing third, Keon Johnson (K-1) and Savannah Pickett (4-6). Earning honorable mention, Jayden Whaley and Elysia and Alexander Galindo (K-1), Hendry Delgado and Eli Vega (2-3), Syrena Cartwright and Emma Hammond (4-6) and Cecilia Nettgen and Reid Craig Garcia (7-9). The 2020 HSWCD summer poster contest featured the theme, Save Water, Live Stronger. First place winners were Eduardo Morales (K-1), Armando Rios (2-3) and Hensley Anson-Yevu (4-6). Placing second, MiaMarie Guerrero (K-1), Cristofer Vera (2-3), and Naomi Cardona (4-6). Placing third, Analeigh Rose Nieves-Rivera (2-3) and Syrena Cartwright (4-6). Earning honorable mention, Gabriella Caskey (K-1), Romeo Martinez and Eli Vega (2-3) and Emma Hammond and Adrian Lopez Torres (4-6). The upcoming summer contest will run from June 1st through August 31st with the theme “Why Conservation Matters”, with rules the same as for the current “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities” contest. For further information on all contests, including rules and entry forms, contact Betty Jo Tompkins, (813) 477.8332, email: bjt6890@yahoo.com or visit the HSWCD website.

Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District

Proudly Supports: • (AFCD) Association of Florida Conservation Districts

• Coalition of Community Gardens

• (NACD) National Association of Conservation Districts

• Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association

• (FCDEA) Florida Conservation Districts Employees Association

• The Community Roundtable

• (SECDEA) Southeast Conservation Districts Employees Association • Fresh From Florida

• Florida Strawberry Growers Association • Tampa Bay Beekeepers Association

• 4-H ---- FFA ----Scouts

• Florida State Beekeepers Association

• Florida State Fair

• Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame

• Florida Strawberry Festival • Hillsborough County Fair

• Hillsborough County Farm Bureau

• Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce

• Florida Farm Bureau Federation

• Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce

• T.R.E.E., Inc. – Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc.

• Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce


Hillsborough 100 Challenge! Gather your family, friends, civic group, business group, or school to create a conservation project during 2021 and report it to us. It’s just that simple: call 813-477-8332, or log on: www.hillsboroughswcd.com HILLSBOROUGH SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT 201 South Collins Street, Suite 202, Plant City, FL 33563 (813) 752-1474, Ext. 3 | Fax: (855) 464-1961 HillsboroughSWCD.com ELECTED SUPERVISORS:

Kathy Eckdahl, Vice Chair, Seat 1 Andrew Brooks, Treasurer, Seat 5

Sonja Brookins, Supervisor, Seat 4 Kathy Cox Jaroch, Supervisor, Seat 2



Betty Jo Tompkins, (813) 477-8332 bjt6890@yahoo.com tompkinsb@hillsboroughcounty.org

Stephanie Farmer-Collins (813) 763-2317 stephanie1776@gmail.com COMPUTER GRAPHICS Linda Chion   Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |



PROJECTS PLEASE NOTE: Due to COVID restrictions, many groups and schools have had to postpone their projects until later in 2021. These include over 40 middle and high schools in the Lipman Garden Challenge, as well as the following: Boy Scouts, Brownies, Chambers of Commerce, 4-H Clubs, FFA, Girl Scouts, Interact, Leos, Lions, Rotoract, Veterans Groups and others. For projects listed below please confirm all events to be sure that dates and times have not changed.

Ag-Venture When: During Florida State Fair April 22- May 02 , 2021 Where: Florida State Fairgrounds 4800 US-301, Tampa, FL 33610 Hands-on (this year hands-off) learning experience for fair goers. Guests will be making butter, planting seeds, finding DNA from a strawberry and learning about the forestry, beef, horticulture and poultry industries, plus lots more! Located in the front of the AG HALL OF FAME building, and all activities are free for fairgoers. Come and visit Ag-Venture at the Florida state Fair!!

Alafia Republican Club Community Clean-up Campaign When: Sat., April 24, 2021 8:30 AM Where: Lumsden Rd in Brandon, from Kings Ave. to Providence Rd.

Join area organizations to help clean-up the community. For further information: Jeff Lukens (813) 404-5940

Alafia River State Park – Friends of the Alafia Workday When: Sat., Apr. 24, 2021 9AM – 1PM Where: Alafia River State Park, 14326 South County Road 39, Lithia, 33547

This workday will consist of hand

pulling invasive species such as Caesar’s weed and rattle box. Registration is necessary and there will be a limit of 50 participants. Because of the space limit, this workday may be extended to include April 25th. Contact the Ranger Station: (813) 672.5320 or Cortney.Nott@FloridaDEP.gov

Alafia River State Park – Park Planting Day When: Saturday, May 8, 2021 9AM – 1PM Where: Alafia River State Park, 14326 South County Road 39, Lithia, 33547

Planting will consist primarily of wire grass plugs (Aristida stricta), as well as some Beauty Berry, Tickseed, Blazing Star and Muhly grass. Registration is necessary, limit to first 50 participants. Plant donations accepted. Contact the Ranger Station: (813) 672.5320 or Cortney. Nott@FloridaDEP.gov

Alianza for Progress – Online Workshop

When: Between April 17 & May 9, 2021 during the Hillsborough 100. Alianza for Progress will present an online workshop to discuss environmental justice issues For further information contact: (787) 460.1247

Brandon Auto Services – Battery Recycling When: Monday – Friday between April 19 & May 7, 2021 8AM – 5PM Where: 3159 East State Road 60, Valrico, Florida 33594

Conveniently recycle your auto battery and help preserve the planet!! For further information call: (813) 689.8131

Brandon Ladies of the Elks – Spring Brunch “Flowers and Butterflies”

When: Sat., April 24, 2021 11AM Where: 800 Centennial Lodge Drive, Brandon, Florida 33510 Join the Brandon Ladies of the Elks for a wonderful Spring brunch, featuring a program on butterflies and gardening. Just $15.00 (Tickets must be purchased in advance). Proceeds fund children’s needs. Information and tickets available: (813) 685.6469

BridgePrep Academy of Tampa on Swann Ave When : Throughout the school year BridgePrep Academy of Tampa does a variety of conservation projects throughout the school year. Their projects range from working with oysters, and beach cleanup to helping out at a bird sanctuary.

Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association When: Saturday May 1, 2021 10 AM Where: 619 Vonderburg Dr. Suite B, Brandon, FL 33511 Cleanup of the grounds and area around Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Assoc. and the lake. Questions? Call (813) 685-8888

City of Tampa Water Department – Community Water Wise Awards

When: Annually; Visit: www. awards.tampabaywaterwise.org The City of Tampa has partnered with Tampa Bay Water and UF/ IFAS since 1998 to promote “Florida Friendly Landscaping” to help residents achieve the water-saving benefits that come from being Florida Friendly and Water Wise. Awards are presented in residential and commercial/multi-family/schools/government categories. Winning landscapes follow the nine principles of FFL: right plant, right place; water efficiently; fertilize appropriately; mulch; attract wildlife; manage yard pests; recycle; reduce stormwater runoff; protect the waterfront.


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

City of Tampa Water Department – Drop Savers Poster Contest

When: Annually; Visit: https:// www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/ residents/property-owners-andrenters/water-and-sewer/ drop-savers-postercontest

The Annual Drop Savers Poster Contest is a fun opportunity for Hillsborough County students to showcase their creative skills while illustrating the importance of water conservation in their daily lives. Sponsored by the Tampa Water Department and Hillsborough County Public Utilities, the competition is divided into 5 grade divisions and are judged on water conservation theme and artistic ability.

Coalition of Community Gardens – Healthy 22ND Street Initiative

When: Saturday, April 24, 2021 11AM – 2PM Where: Healthy 22nd Street Demonstration Garden on the west side of 22nd Street between Chelsea and Osborne in Tampa.

Everyone is invited to enjoy a variety of gardening, health, earth friendly information, demonstrations and home gardening tips at this FREE Earth Day Celebration. Receive a FREE summer HOME GARDENING KIT!! .No registration necessary. Other activities at community gardens are available by contacting the gardens directly. Information available in Community Gardens article elsewhere in this publication.

Coalition of Community Gardens – Grow Gardens Conference When: June 5, 2021 Offered in virtual format for 2021. The annual Grow Gardens Conference topics include presenting models of community gardens, health benefits of community gardens and moving the needle forward in urban agriculture policy. Details available: www.communitygardenstb.org

Composting - learn how to turn trash into treasure! When: Thursday May 13, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM Thursday, May 13th 11 AM – 12 PM Item pickup by Hillsborough County Attendees Saturday, May 15th from 12 to 2 PM at the Hillsborough County Extension Office or by special arrangements. To turn trash into treasure! Hillsborough County residents will receive a compost bin, compost bucket and thermometer after attending the VIRTUAL workshop.

(1 per household and the representative of the household must be an adult.) Product pick-up on Saturday, May 15, 2021 between 12 - 2 pm or by special arrangement. UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584. Questions? Call 813-744-5519. There is a non-refundable $5.00 registration fee per workshop/household. https:// www.eventbrite.com/e/composting-workshop-tickets-145905710909 Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Gardening With A Purpose When: Saturday May 08, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM 10 AM – 2 PM FREE virtual event offered to HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY. Topics will include: Native and Companion Plants, Soil Basics, Edible Gardening, Wildlife and Managing Yard Pests Responsibly. Ask questions and receive research-based answers from our landscaping and gardening experts. Questions? Call UF/IFAS Extension 813-744-5519 Registration is required https://www. eventbrite.com/e/ffl-101-gardeningwith-purpose-tickets-145984961951 Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Herbs and Patio Micro-irrigation When: Saturday May 08, 2021 9 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM Saturday May 8th 9 AM – 10 AM Pickup by attendees from 12 Noon to 2 PM the SAME DAY at the Hillsborough County Extension Office HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY Learn how to grow herbs with the convenience of a patio micro-irrigation kit. Hillsborough County residents will receive one patio micro-irrigation kit and up to 5 herb plants after attending the workshop. Items provided are per household. Item pick-up 12- 2 pm May 8 as a drive-through at Extension’s parking lot. UF/IFAS Extension 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584. Questions? Call UF/IFAS Extension 813-744-5519. $5 fee per household and registration is required. Registration: https://www.eventbrite. com/e/herbs-and-patio-microirrigation-tickets-145935207133 Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Hillsborough County Fair Community Clean-up Day

When: Saturday, April 17, 2021 8AM to Noon Where: 215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover, Florida 33527 Join fair staff and volunteers in a morning clean-up project in preparation for the 2021 Fair opening

September 23rd. Volunteers will help with weed removal, picking up leaves and limbs from around the grounds, minor repairs and even some tractor work. For further information call: (813) 737.FAIR, https://hillsboroughcountyfair.com

Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District Events: 1. 20,0000 Tree Planting! 200 volunteers needed! Sponsored By: Hillsborough Soil & Water Conservation District, Sustany Foundation, Tree Inc, Brandon South Global Rotary, Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management When: Sat. June 12, 2021 9AM–3 PM Registration by June 4th Required Where: 3540 East Knights Griffin Road Plant City, FL 33565 (Lower Green Swamp Preserve) We have 20,000 longleaf pine seedlings to plant on 80 acres • Free commemorative T-shirt (while supplies last) / Refreshments • COVID-19 protocols require masks and social-distancing Registration: email bjt6890@yahoo. com 813 477-8332 2. Booth - Come Visit! Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District When: Florida State Fair - Ag Hall of Fame April 22 - May 02, 2021 Where: Florida State Fairgrounds 4800 US-301, Tampa Come visit the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District Booth at the Florida State Fair. Variety of brochures & other information available.

Conservation District When: Entry Deadline Friday April 30, 2021 Poster contest open to youth from Kindergarten to 12th grade. This year’s theme is Healthy Forests Healthy Communities. For details and forms : Email Betty Jo Tompkins Executive Director bjt6890@yahoo.com or Stephanie Collins – Community Outreach Tech stephanieC1776@gmail.com 6. Youth SPEECH Contest – Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District When: Entry Deadline Friday April 30, 2021 Speech contest open to youth from 6th to 12th grade. Speech must be 5 to 7 minutes long. This year’s theme is Healthy Forests Healthy Communities. For details and forms: Email Betty Jo Tompkins Executive Director bjt6890@yahoo.com or Stephanie Collins – Community Outreach Tech stephanieC1776@gmail.com

Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon – Community Clean-up Campaign

When: Saturday, April 24, 2021 8:30 AM Where: Kings Avenue in Brandon, from State Road 60 to Lumsden Road

Join area organizations to help clean-

up the community. For further information: David Hill (813) 625.1433

Ladybug Release Party Plus Other Fun Activities When: Sat. April 24, 2021 10:30AM Where: In Person Event -Full Grown Girl Plant Shop 11292 Sullivan Street Riverview, Florida 33578 Meet us under the big oak tree right next to the Full Grown Girl Plant Shop in the Winthrop Town Center, Riverview. We will spend the morning celebrating our beloved pollinators with crafts, music, storytime, bubbles, planting plants and decorating pots. At the end of our event we will release 1,500 live ladybugs to help keep our local plants and gardens healthy, beautiful and flourishing. $16.99 per participant. Questions? Contact Full Grown Girl Plant Shop. Registration desired. Phone: 813-431-9947. Email weteachplants@gmail.com

Miracles Landscaping Project When: Sun., May 2, 2021 10AM – 2PM Where: Miracles Outreach Community Development Center 13129 St. Francis Lane, Thonotosassa, Florida 33592

Help landscape the grounds of Miracles Outreach, Inc. giving Hope and a House to children

who have been Homeless, Abused and Victims of Human Trafficking in Florida. Needed are: Volunteers, plants, flowers, bushes, and other gardening supplies. Contact: Pam Bell (813) 455.9123 Pball@miraclesoutreach.org . Micro-Irrigation Workshop When: Friday May 14, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM May 14th 11 AM – 12 PM. Item pickup by Hillsborough County Residents Saturday, May 15, 2021 12 - 2 pm Learn how you can have healthy and attractive landscape beds while conserving water. This irrigation method not only conserves water but is not limited by current water restrictions as is traditional in-ground irrigation. Hillsborough County residents will receive a micro-irrigation kit after attending the workshop. Questions? Call 813-744-5519. Registration fee $5 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ microirrigation-workshop-tickets-145912737927.

Odiorne Insurance – Blood Drive – One Blood Give Blood Save Lives When: April 30, 2021 12 – 5 pm Where: 1206 N. Parsons Ave., Brandon, Florida 33510

3.Local Working Group Meeting Hills. Soil and Water Conservation District/ NRCS When: May 27, 2021 3 PM – 5:30 PM Where: Florida Strawberry Growers Assn Meeting Room 13138 Lewis Gallagher Road Dover, FL 33527 Local Working Group meeting. Opportunity to help set priorities for National Resource Conservation in the coming years. Open to agricultural operators, affiliates, and the public. Questions: Email HSWCD Exec. Director Betty Jo Tompkins bjt6890@yahoo.com 4. Tree Planting at County Park to honor HSWCD Chairman Mark Hepburn (passed away March 19, 2021) When & Where - Details available on the Hills. Soil and Water Conservation District website www.hillsboroughswcd.com 5. Youth POSTER Contest– Hillsborough Soil and Water   Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Picnic Island Riparian Planting – Sponsored by TREE (Tampa Bay Restoration and Environmental Effort), Inc., City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department and The Florida Aquarium When: Saturday, April 24, 2021 8 AM Where: Picnic Island Park, 7409 Picnic Island Blvd, Tampa, Florida This exciting joint planting project will include the planting of sea grape, red mangrove, Silver Buttonwood and Muhly Grass. This represents Phase III of a long term project (Phase II was conducted in November 2019, but further work was delayed due to COVID 19). Parking is in the second parking area to the right once entering the park. It is the only non-paved, shell parking area. The planting site is located along the southwest corner of that lot. For further information: www. treeinc.org

Pivot Charter School in Riverview When: Throughout the school year Pivot Charter School in Riverview encourages students to collect and recycle cans throughout the school year.


Plant City Area Democratic Party – Tree Planting

Recycle Your Yard and Recycled Yard Art

When: Sunday April 25, 2021 2 PM Where: Plant City Commons Community Garden 2001 E Cherry St, Plant City, FL 33563 Tree planting event at Plant City Commons Community Garden in honor of Hillsborough 100 and Earth Day by Plant City Area Democratic Party. Questions? Contact CL Townsend 813-638-2260

When: Wednesday April 21, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on Wednesday April 21st on ZOOM 12 – 1 pm. Item pickup from 12 – 2pm on Saturday, May 1st at the Hillsborough County Extension Office 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33594. This fun and educational workshop will showcase what and how you can reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat. Register for this presentation if you have a good sense of humor, love to reuse items in your home and landscape, or want to become more creative and enjoy seeing artistic yard treasures. One recycled item per household and drawings for additional pieces of recycled yard art after event. Questions? Contact Lynn Barber 813-744-5519 ext. 54105. $5 fee for this workshop and registration. Registration https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ recycle-your-yard-and-recycled-yardart-tickets-141472878187

Property Appraiser – Hillsborough County – Creating New Green Team When: Throughout the Year Where: Throughout Hillsborough County The Property Appraiser’s office is creating a Green Team of volunteer staff members to identify the environmental strengths and weaknesses of the organization. They’ll be proposing and implementing specific solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and strengthen organizational efforts to operate in a more environmentally sustainable fashion. Inspired by this year’s Earth Day theme, Restore Our Earth, they pledge to make this challenge a year long one. Contact: HudsonO@hcpafl.org

|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

Rainwater Harvesting When: Saturday May 15, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM Saturday May 15th 9AM – 10 AM. Item pickup by attendees on SAME DAY from 12 Noon to 2 PM Learn how Rainwater Harvesting is useful for collecting rainwater for ornamental plant irrigation while reducing

erosion and stormwater runoff and providing potable water for irrigation. Hillsborough County residents will receive one 45-55 gallon plastic foodgrade barrel after attending the workshop (1 per household). Questions? Call 813-744-5519. Non-refundable $5.00 registration fee per workshop/ household. Registration: https://www. eventbrite.com/e/rainwater-harvesting-workshop-tickets-145914697789

the canoes at 9:00 AM Where: John B. Sargeant Sr. Park 12702 US-301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592 Rotary Club of New Tampa – River clean-up along the Hillsborough River at John B. Sargeant Sr. Park. Questions or if you do not have a canoe email ashvin@allcountyalliance.com for details.

River Cleanup Legacy Preparatory Academy

When: Wednesday April 21, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM 11 AM – 12 PM FREE virtual event. This presentation provides an overview of soil testing. You’ll learn how to take and submit a soil sample, interpret your soil pH and select plants based on pH. The presentation will also discuss soil amendments, such as compost and lime. Questions? Contact Nicole Pinson, 813-744-5519, pinsonn@ HCFLGov.netThis is a FREE workshop but registration is required. https:// www.eventbrite.com/e/soil-testing-basics-tickets-142694869195 Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

When: Earth Day April 22, 2021 Where: - Hillsborough River State Park Area Students from Legacy Preparatory Academy are planning a trash cleanup in the Hillsborough River State Park area!

Riverview Chamber and Tampa Chamber YMCA Camp Cristina Cleanup When: Saturday April 17, 2021 Where: 9840 Balm Riverview Rd. Riverview, 33569 Pre-registration event; 813-234-5944

Rotary Club of New Tampa River Cleanup When: Saturday April 17,2021 Meeting at 8:30 AM and will launch

Soil Testing Basics

Sweetwater Organic Community Farm – Sunday Fun For Everyone! When: Sundays, April 18, April 25,

May 2 & May 9, 2021 9AM - 3PM Where: 5521 Hanley Road, Tampa, Florida 33634, Town N’ Country Volunteer at Florida’s oldest community supported agricultural farm, “Your Forever Farm” by coming out to work on Sunday’s from 9AM – Noon. This 501c3 operation is both 100% volunteer and includes doing everything by hand. In addition to volunteering, enjoy the Sunday farmers market open from Noon – 3PM with live music, open mic, farm tours, and access to a variety of local products, including organic produce, honey, coffee, bread, raw milk, eggs chicken, beef and much more. Also enjoy the new “farm Café” located onsite. Further information: www. sweetwater-organic.org

Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association – Building Stronger Home, School and Community Connections When: Throughout the Year Where: Various locations in Hillsborough County Students are planning innovative gardening approaches with the development of indoor gardens for summer food production. Contact: Lena Young (813) 538.3219 or lenayoung211@yahoo.com

The Florida Aquarium Party for the Planet When: Between Earth Day (April 22) and World Oceans Day (June 8) Where: The Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa Florida 33602 The Florida Aquarium is proud to once again participate in The Associations of Zoos and Aquariums “Party for the Planet”. Between Earth Day and World Oceans Day. The Aquarium will engage in environmental stewardship with multiple activities and events highlighting two conservation priorities, habitat restoration and reduction of single use plastics reaching our waterways. For more information and to get involved contact Melissa at: MDude@flaquarium.org .

TREES, INC Earth Day Morning Tree Planting When: Thurs. April 22, 2021 10 AM Where: Gilchrist Park 1904 South Park Road Plant City, FL 33563 As a morning celebration of Earth Day, TREES, Inc will be planting one (1) 15-gallon Sweetgum tree. Sweetgum trees have leaves shaped like a 5-point star, similar to a Maple tree. In the fall, the leaves change to a variety of colors such as orange, red and others. The seeds from a Sweetgum tree look like round balls with spikes. At maturity, the Sweetgum can reach heights up to 75

feet tall. Students from Tomlin Middle School and Plant City High School will participate.

TREES, INC Earth Day Afternoon Tree Planting When: Thurs. April 22, 2021 2 PM Where: Alderman’s Ford Park, 100 Alderman’s Ford Park Dr, Plant City, FL 33567 As an afternoon celebration of Earth Day, TREES, Inc will be planting one (1) 15-gallon Sweetgum tree. Sweetgum trees have leaves shaped like a 5-point star, similar a Maple tree. In the fall, the leaves change to a variety of colors such as orange, red and others. The seeds from a Sweetgum tree look like round balls with spikes. At maturity, the Sweetgum can reach heights up to 75 feet tall. Students from Durant High School will participate.

Turf Trouble Let’s Chew On The Blades – New Workshop When: April 20, 2021 Where: Virtual Event On Zoom 10 – 11 AM WORKSHOP IS FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY. Learn about turfgrass practices that can cause yellowing and brown spots to appear in your lawn. Find out why they can occur and how the sources of these conditions were identified. Hear how integrated pest management practices can keep your yard healthy.Registration required https:// www.eventbrite.com/e/turf-trouble-lets-chew-on-the-blades-tickets-146606466889 This webinar will be closed captioned for the hearing impaired.Questions? Call UF/IFAS Extension 813-744-5519.

Vermicomposting Workshop – IN PERSON EVENT When: Wednesday April 21, 2021 6:30 – 7:30 PM IN PERSON EVENT Where: IN PERSON EVENT UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Rd 579, Seffner, FL 33584 HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY Vermicomposting: Where the worms do the work and we reap the Benefits! Attend a vermicomposting workshop with us and learn how to compost with worms. You will make a worm bin out of a plastic tote provided and you will also receive the Composting Red Wiggler worms. $20.00 per person. We are offering this workshop in person in the Conference Center at our office, the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County. We will limit attendance to 9 attendees (one per household) in order to comply with Covid-19 regulations. Masks are mandatory. Each attendee will have their own 6 foot table and hand sanitizer will be available. Please do not plan to attend this workshop with other members of your family or friends as we must strictly adhere to the nine-person limit. $20 per person Questions? Lisa Meredith, MeredithL@ hillsboroughcounty.org or 813-7445519 x 54146. Registration: https:// www.eventbrite.com/e/vermicomposting-workshop-tickets-144277063581 Closed captioned for hearing impaired.

UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County Open House Event For General Public When May 01, 2021 Where: VIRTUAL EVENT May 1st on ZOOM 9 – 10 AM afterwards on the SAME DAY giveaways from 12 – 2 PM

This event is for Hillsborough County residents ONLY Interactive webinar will provide you with interesting history about Extension as well as information on several upcoming programs that UF/IFAS Extension has to offer. Each of our program areas will be represented and able to answer your questions about programming and talk briefly about popular topics of interest to many residents during our webinar. Our program areas include: *Environmental Horticulture *Commercial Horticulture *Family and Consumer Sciences *Expanded Food & Nutrition *4-H If that isn’t cool enough, we will provide giveaways after the Zoom webinar session. Yes, that’s going to happen after our open house sessions! We will be hosting a drive-by giveaway in our parking lot on the same day, from 12 pm -2pm, where you will receive some goodies for the whole family! Our address is: UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584. We look forward to great conversations during this fun and educational event. Questions: Call 813-744-5519. Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ufifas-extension-hillsborough-county-open-house-event-tickets-146805145141. Closed captioned for hearing impaired.

Vegetable Micro-Irrigation

When: April 24, 2021 Where: Virtual Event on ZOOM April 24th (9 –10am), afterwards item pickup (12–2 pm) same day at the Hillsborough County Extension Office HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY Learn how to grow vegetables with the convenience of a micro-irrigation kit. Hillsborough County residents will receive one vegetable micro-irrigation kit and a combination of up to 5 herb/ornamental/ vegetable plants after attending the workshop. Questions? Contact UF/ IFAS Extension 813-744-5519. $5 nonrefundable fee per workshop/per household. Registration is required. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ vegetable-microirrigation-workshop-tickets-145897157325 Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Special Thanks

Plant City Lions


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

to Our Cooperating Partners

to Our Cooperating Partners

Duggal & Sons Blueberry Farm

• Progress Village Community Garden • Seeds of Faith Community Garden at Bay Life Church • Sulfur Spring Community Garden • Tampa Bay Community Garden at St Mary’s Ethiopian Church

• 1 Body Ministries Community Garden • Apollo Beach Community Garden • Faith Lutheran GIFT Garden Center • Apollo Beach Community Food, Forest & Garden

• Forest Hills Presbyterian Church Community Garden • Hope Community Garden • Plant City Commons Community Garden • University Area Community Garden

cialty Adv er Spe ti wn

LC g, L sin

Lacy Br o

Special Thanks

• Vincentian Faith and Grace Church Garden • Waters Ave Church Community Garden • Wellswood Community Garden • YBOR Street Community Garden

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


U-PICKS OFFER FAMILY FUN FOR EVERYONE! Making it a family affair at the HSWCD Strawberry U-Pick on Feb. 27, Kaci Hill, left, and her husband, Chad, and their children, Caleb, 7, Kaylee, 9 and niece Brooke Rainwater.

Nothings more fun than getting out in the field to pick your own luscious strawberries and blueberries! With that in mind, the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District is proudly presenting two U-Picks for 2021. The first, a Strawberry U-Pick hosted by Fancy Farms in Plant City, was held on a sunny Saturday in February. The second, planned for May, will feature blueberries at the Duggal and Sons Farm in Lithia. Proceeds from both events benefit a wide range of HSWCD’s youth programs, as well as scholarships. Fancy Farms owners, Carl, Dee Dee. Dustin, Allison, Skylar and Christy Grooms, are no strangers to supporting U-Picks.


For the past fourteen years they’ve hosted the annual Hillsborough County 4-H U-Pick, which had to be canceled due to COVID restrictions. But, in order not to waste a beautiful crop, they stepped up to let HSWCD hold one instead. Youth and adults, families and individuals, arrived for the U-Pick, which had only been advertised on social media for a couple of days. For many it was a new experience, while for others, it was part of an annual ritual. Since Fancy Farms beginnings in 1974 with 15 acres of strawberries, the Grooms have shared a family value of service to others. In that regard they always step up to do their part to assist all elements of

|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

the community. “Serving others is just in our DNA” reports family member Dustin Grooms. Today’s farm operation consists of over 250 acres of strawberries , which they operate in addition to their newest acquisition, Fancy Farms Market, located at 5204 Drane Field Road, just over the Polk County line. Open Monday through Saturday, the Market offers terrific homemade strawberry treats, as well as other produce. According to the Grooms, “this was just a natural extension of our love for farming and producing food.” The Blueberry U-Pick will be held on a Saturday in May at the Duggal Farm at 3515 Nichols Road in Lithia. The Duggal operation is also a family one. According to owner B.J. Duggal, “our entire family, including my wife and children, work together to insure the success of our farm. We try to use innovation to create the best blueberry possible. This includes production of early varieties that command the best market prices.”

In addition to blueberries, the Duggals have a number of other fruits growing at their farm. This includes one of every variety of mango grown throughout the entire world, as well as avocados, lychee fruit, passion fruit, pomegranates, star fruit and sugar apples. “We enjoy growing unique foods that aren’t found on too many farms in Florida. They’re not for commercial production, but rather our own personal enjoyment.” In addition they enjoy a herb garden consisting of basil, dill, garlic, hot peppers, mint, oregano, and rosemary. “We’re pleased to be sharing our farm for a U-Pick to benefit HSWCD” reports Duggal. “We support programs that benefit young people and are proud of the fact that our son was the winner of the HSWCD speech contest a couple of years ago.” The Duggal family also operates D & D convenience store located at 3519 Nichols Road, adjacent to their farm. The exact date of the May U-Pick will be determined in late April based on weather and other conditions. For further information, visit the District’s website, www.hillsboroughswcd.com, or call (813) 477.8332.

Let’s Plant Some Trees! Saturday, June 12, 2021 Florida’s largest single-day public tree-planting event

Let’s Plant Some Trees!!


Lower Green Swamp Preserve 3540 East Knights Griffin Road / Plant City / 33565


Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge Action Awareness Project

Grab your gloves, mask, sunscreen and insect spray and join family and friends on Saturday, June 12th for the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District’s 20,000 pine tree planting event.The project , coordinated by HSWCD, is in support of the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge. Other event presenters include the Sustany Foundation,TREE, Inc., Rotary Brandon South Global and the Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management department.

available, from 9 am until noon and noon until 3 pm.The event is open to youth and adults, with all those under 16 requiring adult support.

Site of the event is an 80 acre parcel that’s part of the Lower Green Swamp Preserve, located at 3540 East Knights Griffin Road, Plant City.Two shifts are

In order to follow COVID guidelines, participation will be limited to the first 200 individuals signed up in advance

Bryan, Aimee and Anabelle Gilmore of Wimauma were the first to sign up for the “Let’s Plant Some Trees” event. According to Bryan, “I work for Mosaic and we have a real commitment to the land and our environment, so this activity is a natural for us and we know we’ll have a great time!” Photo credit: Sunny Stickles

The 20,000 pine seedlings have been donated by the Sustany Foundation, which has committed to making this an annual donation. Participants will receive a t-shirt and refreshments.

of the event. Application forms and further information are available at: www.hillsboroughswcd.com or contacting Betty Jo Tompkins, (813) 477.8332. Don’t miss out on this fun event to create a future forest!!

For more information: Call Betty Jo Tompkins 813-477-8332 bjt6890@yahoo.com

Event Presenters: Hillsborough Soil & Water Conservation District Sustany Foundation TREE, Inc. Rotary Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management

* SPOTS LIMITED TO FIRST 200 PRE-REGISTRANTS * We have 20,000 longleaf pine seedlings to plant on 80 acres * Free commemorative T-shirt (while supplies last) / Refreshments * Sign-in throughout the day, starting at 8:30 AM * Two shifts available (9AM-12 and 12-3PM) / Carpool if you can * Long pants and shirt, hats, and closed-toe shoes recommended * Don’t forget sunscreen, lip balm, garden gloves and insect spray * Students under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult * COVID-19 protocols require masks and social-distancing Visit us online at: HillsboroughSWCD.com | Call: 813-752-1474 Ext. 3 PRINTING COURTESY OF ODIORNE INSURANCE

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Coalition of Community Gardens Growing for the Future Green-thumb enthusiasts and those with a passion to serve others, are invited to join the Coalition of Community Gardens, a network formed to support and share efforts, knowledge and resources and influence public policy for the good of gardening overall. The Coalition of Community Gardens in Tampa Bay was founded during a brainstorming session in August 2015 by allied professionals and representatives from six Hillsborough County community gardens. It was created to provide a concerted effort to promote “urban farming” and assist food desert areas and those suffering from food insecurity. Establishing the Coalition were representatives from the Plant City Commons, Seeds of Faith, Seminole Heights, Tampa Eden Project, Tampa Heights, Temple Terrace, Temple Terrace Farm 2 School and University Area Community gardens, as well as extension agents from Hillsborough and Polk counties and businessman David Whitwam, of Whitwam Organics. Mission and goals were established and the coalition was off and running, with its website today providing a useful guide to more than 20 gardens in Hillsborough County and another 14 community gardens in Manatee,

Pasco and Pinellas counties. According to coalition officials, getting knee-deep in the dirt helps children learn where their food comes from, improves property values, connects neighbors, promotes intergenerational and cross-cultural interactions, improves the viability of soil and promotes eating local, which reduces the carbon footprint. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) notes in its list of community gardening benefits; improved air and soil quality, increased biodiversity of plants and animals; increased access to fresh foods and improved food security. Other benefits include increased physical activity and improved mental health and relaxation; strong social and neighborhood ties, increased community engagement; and educational opportunities for community gardening. Noted as well is the use of community gardening to advance for the principles of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) for youth. As founders of the Tampa Heights Community Garden

in 2011, Kitty Wallace stated she and Lena Young Green became “part of a growing trend across the country.” Yet in Florida, where the weather is especially conducive to growing food at the local level, “it was just amazing to me we had so few community gardens,” Wallace said. “The fail rate was something like 50 percent.” To increase those odds, the duo founded the coalition, helping to spur the creative drive behind community gardens, which can be as different in design and operation as the people who create them. Some gardens offer separated plots for people who reap their own produce. Some gardens, like the one in Seminole Heights, is a “big, giant garden,” which people tend together. “If you come to garden, Wallace said, “you get to take something home.” The Tampa Heights Community Garden offers both options.

Community Gardens in Tampa Bay MANATEE COUNTY Lakewood Ranch Community Garden 13010 Adventure Place, Bradenton PASCO COUNTY Farmden and Community Garden 15029 14th Street, Dade City Friendship Farms & Fare 6119 Illinois Ave., New Port Richey Habitat for Humanity New Port Richey Grand Gardens 5721 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey Watson Park Community Garden Between 17th and 19th streets on North and Main Avenues, Dade City PINELLAS COUNTY Bartlett Park Community Garden 1443 Highland St. S., St. Petersburg Beacon Food Forest Community Garden 2470 Nursery Road, Clearwater


Clearwater Community Garden 1277 Grove St., Clearwater Daystar Life Center Community Garden 1055 28th St. S., St. Petersburg St. Pete Eco-Village Community Garden 302 15th St. N., St. Petersburg Cops ‘n Kids Youth Center 555 East Harrison St., Tarpon Springs Oldsmar Organic Community Garden 423 Lafayette Blvd., Oldsmar St. Pete Community Garden NO DETAILS NOTED

Apollo Beach Community Food Forest and Garden Apollo Beach Garden Club 664 Gulf and Sea Blvd., Apollo Beach Contact: Paula pahrn@yahoo.com Faith Lutheran GIFT Garden Center 12703 North Florida Ave., Tampa Contact: Pastor Gabriel Morgan gmorgan@stpaultampa.org Forest Hills Presbyterian Church Community Garden 709 West Linebaugh Ave., Tampa Contact: Linda Swiger lswiger@tampabay.rr.com

New St. Paul AME Church 4603 North 42nd St. Contact: Pastor R.J. admin@newsaintpaul.org Plant City Commons Community Garden 2001 East Cherry St., Plant City Contact: Karen Elizabeth 12circle8@gmail.com Progress Village Community Garden Contact: 813-677-7074 Robles Parks Village Community Garden 3518 North Avon Ave., Tampa Contact: Reva Iman

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY For a map of the community gardens in Hillsborough, visit: sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/lawngarden/ community-garden-resources/

HOPE Community Garden 4902 North 22nd St., Tampa Contact: Suzette Dean bministr@yahoo.com

Seeds of Faith Community Garden at Bay Life Church 1017 North Kingsway Road, Brandon Contact: John Dukes

1Body Ministries Community Garden 124th Ave. and Tinsley Terrace Contact: Amanda amanda@1bodyministries.com

Mustard Seed Garden at Lutz Community Church 601 Sunset Lane, Lutz Contact: Ardell O’Neal adosr6@gmail.com

Seminole Heights Community Garden 6114 River Terrace, Tampa Contact: Colleen Parker info.shcg@gmail.com

|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

Seffner Community Garden 406 North Kingsway Road, Seffner Contact: joy.ingram@verizon.net Sulphur Springs Community Garden 1506 East Eskimo Ave., Tampa Contact: Meagan.Smithyman@TampaYMCA.org

Source: Coalition of Community Gardens University Area Community Garden 14013 North 22nd St., Tampa Contact: Erica Nelson enelson@uacdc.org Vincentian Faith & Grace Garden 9715 North 56th St., Temple Terrace Contact: Kelly Seeley kellymseeley@gmail.com

Sustainable Living Project 918 West Sligh Ave., Tampa Contact: Georgea Snyder slpgeorgea@gmail.com

VISTA Gardens, Carrollwood 13572 South Village Drive, Tampa Contact: Bill West bw.vistagardens@gmail.com

Tampa Bay Community Garden at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Church, Tampa Contact: Father B., 813-679-4982

Waters Ave. Church Community Garden 609 West Waters Ave., Tampa Contact: Jessica Brenner jeccabrerr@gmail.com

Tampa Heights Community Garden Tampa Contact: Kitty Wallace, Lena Young Green 813-992-0940 kittwal@aol.com

Wellswood Community Garden 4918 North Mendenhall Drive, Tampa Contact: Kitty Wallace kittwal@aol.com

Temple Terrace Community Garden 329 South Riverhills Drive, Temple Terrace Contact: Valerie ricoflash@gmail.com

Ybor Street 2429 Ybor Street, Tampa Contact: Jessica Brenner jeccabrerr@gmail.com

“We have several communal gardens, a larger area gardened by a group, and then we have 75 four-by-eight raised gardens that individuals and families can garden for themselves,” Wallace said. “We ask for a donation of $50 a year and we take care of the soil, water and wood and the extras. If we get an infestation of certain bugs, for example, I’ll get the organic treatment that’s needed and spray all the affected plants.” Affiliated coalition members include the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County public schools, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Hillsborough County Planning Commission, Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), UF/IFAS Extension Service, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Sustany Foundation, Tampa Bay Network To End Hunger, Tampa Garden Club and Whitwam Organics. Also an affiliated member is the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, with which coalition members annually participate in the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge. In addition, the Conservation District has provided mini-grants to a dozen of the Coalition’s gardens. The coalition in 2018 received HSWCD’s award for Outstanding Conservation Project. “At the time we had about 20 gardens and 15 participated in the challenge,” Wallace said. “As coalition members we get together quarterly at each other’s gardens. We learn from each other and we share resources. Participating in events like the [Hillsborough 100] challenge is another way to contribute to our community and spread the word about gardening.” Additional coalition projects included the installation of a school and community garden at Middleton High and a butterfly garden outside the school’s science wing; expanding the garden at the HOPE Community Center, at 4902 North 22nd St.; installing 10 front-yard gardens at homes in East Tampa; assisting in the design of the community garden at the Family Health Clinic on 22nd Street; and presenting ongoing workshops on gardening and nutrition.

The coalition hosts an annual Grow Community Gardens Conference, which in 2020, due to the pandemic, was held in virtual format. It provided “information and inspiration on the impact of gardening on health” and the “impact of policy on food security and food sovereignty.” Presenting at the conference were representatives from the Garden Steps initiative. As a multi-faceted project, Garden Steps is a collaborative effort between the Coalition of Community Gardens, City of Tampa, Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough, HART and the Hillsborough MPO and Planning Commission. As the first runner-up in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge in 2019, Garden Steps received $50,000 to continue its focus on health equity in Tampa. Launched in partnership with the Aetna Foundation, American Public Health Association and National Association of Counties, the challenge aims to “support communities in their collaborative efforts to become healthier places to live, work, learn, play and pray.” Garden Steps achievements include the installation of two pop-up community gardens; collected data on food deserts, chronic health conditions, transportation facilities and related indicators; vegetable cooking and tasting sessions for seniors learning to manage diabetes; and a website page that shares information about how to start a garden. The Sustany Foundation has partnered with the Coalition of Community Gardens to establish the “Seed to Sustenance” community garden matching fund to support community garden start-ups in Hillsborough,

Pasco, Pinellas and Manatee counties. Groups of people who wish to garden together are eligible to request funds once they have completed the 10 steps outlined in the American Community Gardening publication, “Ten Steps to Starting a Community Garden.” The group must be a nonprofit organization or have established community partnerships/sponsorships with a nonprofit organization, garden club, church, school, civic association or homeowner’s association. How much does it cost to start a community garden? The Seed to Sustenance application information notes that a small, raised-bed garden can be started with as little as $1,000 to $1,200, depending on the quality of lumber purchased. The cost also includes irrigation, soil, wheelbarrow, rakes, hoe, shovels, hand tools and start-up plants. For more information, and to apply for a matching grant up to $600, visit: www.sustany.org/community-gardens-matching-fund. Clearwater, in November 2020, launched a grant program to support existing and developing community gardens. The city’s sustainability and resiliency plan, called “Clearwater Greenprint,” prioritizes local food and urban gardening in the context of community garden merits. To apply for a grant, visit: www.myclearwater. com/communitygardens. For more on Garden Steps, visit https://bit.ly/2NA7SuZ; Coalition of Community Gardens, visit www.communitygardenstb.org. Call or text Karen Elizabeth, communications coordinator, at 813-463-2660. Email: communitygardenstb@gmail.com.

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Farm Bureaus: Providing Agricultural Advocacy at Local, State and National Levels Farm Bureaus have long been considered the “Voice of Agriculture”. Advocates at local, state and national levels, they play an integral role in forming and supporting governmental policies that in turn support a vibrant agricultural community. L to R, Betty Jo Tompkins, HSWCD Executive Directors; Michelle Williamson, Chairman, Farm Bureau Women’s Committee; Sonja Brookins, HSWCD Supervisor; and Judi Whitson, HCFB Executive Director visited Driscoll’s berry research farm as part of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau Leadership Conference on March 20th.

Hillsborough County Farm Bureau At the local level, the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau is one of sixty located within almost every county in the state of Florida. Farm Bureau’s membership consists of both agricultural operators and non-agricultural participants. Agriculture has a long tradition within Hillsborough County, from cattle originally introduced by early Spanish explorers to today’s strawberry industry, making Plant City the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World”. Within Hillsborough County, Farm Bureau partners with numerous organizations including the Agriculture Economic Development Council, part of the County’s Agriculture Industry Development Program. The important role of agriculture to the local economy can’t be over-estimated. As agriculture is sustained, people will continue to enjoy rural and wide-open spaces, wildlife habitat, aquifer recharge, economic diversity in the community, a net surplus in tax revenues and access to a fresh food supply. That’s what sustainability is all about. Serving as President of the


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

Hillsborough County Farm Bureau Board of Directors is Dennis Carlton, Jr, with day to day operations the responsibility of Judi Whitson, now in her 30th year of service. For further information contact : (813) 685.9121, or www.hcfarmbureau.org . Offices are located at 305 South Wheeler Street, Plant City, Florida 33563. Florida Farm Bureau Federation The Great Depression of the late 1930’s left many Florida farmers heavily-mortgaged and in debt. Among them were citrus growers who were caught between low prices and handlers/shippers who often controlled harvesting. In fact, in the late 1930’s, citrus growers were being paid five cents per box on the tree for grapefruit. The dire situation, led to the creation of Florida Citrus Growers, Inc. This then led to the establishment of Florida Farm Bureau, with its charter read and adopted at the organization’s first Convention in 1941. On March 13, 1942, the first county Farm Bureau was established in Dade County, followed by Hillsborough County one month later. Over the decades the federation grew considerably, adapting to changes within both agriculture and the economy. By the 2000’s Florida Farm Bureau continued to advance on many fronts. As a result of diminished tourism following the attacks of 9/11, Florida’s agricultural industry played a major role in stabilizing the

State’s economy. As then State President Carl B. Loop explained it, “Agriculture has been the most adaptable contributor to Florida’s economy. Food is essential to life, so agriculture doesn’t get the big up – and –down swings experienced by other segments of the economy”. As the 2000’s have progressed, so has Farm Bureau’s advocacy efforts. Not only does the Florida Farm Bureau Federation maintain legislative offices in Tallahassee, but it holds an annual Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol, with this year’s live event canceled due to COVID restrictions. Farm Bureau monitors legislation to protect the interests of both farmers and consumers alike. According to President John l. Hoblick, “Our entire Farm Bureau family has within its ranks some of the best leaders in Florida. They are people

that work hard, devote themselves to their families and serve their communities. Collectively, Farm Bureau members represent the true heart and soul of Florida’s people”. Hoblick further points out, “In today’s world advocacy is not just important, it’s essential. The fact is, if you’re not at the table, you might be the one on the plate.” For further information contact Florida Farm Bureau Federation : (352) 378.8100 or write to: Post Office Box 147030, Gainesville, Florida, 32614. American Farm Bureau Federation

While Hillsborough County is known for its wonderful and delicious strawberries and blueberries, research into new varieties of blackberries and raspberries are under development.

According to its mission statement, “ The American Farm Bureau Federation is the Voice of Agriculture. We are farm and ranch families working together to build a sustainable future of safe and abun-

dant food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world”. Farm Bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization governed by and representing farm and ranch families united for the purpose of analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement. AFBF’s program areas include advocacy, education, empowerment and membership. Activity areas include the Young Farmer and Rancher program, Women’s Leadership Program, Promotion & Education and Learning & Development. Membership in the American Farm Bureau Federation exceeds 5 million, surpassing the 2 million families in agriculture within the 50 states and Puerto Rico. AFBF holds the distinction of being the largest agricultural organization in the United States and maintains a major presence in Washington, DC protecting the interests of the agricultural community and the country.

The American Farm Bureau Federation can be reached at (202) 406.3600 or by contacting AFBF, 600 Maryland Ave. SW, Suite 1000 W, Washington, DC 20024.

AFCD Supports Florida Conservation Districts The Association of Florida Conservation Districts supports 58 Soil and Water Conservation Districts located throughout Florida’s 67 counties. Districts consist of five elected, non-partisan members who volunteer their services in management of soil and water conservation within their District. Districts are non-taxing and are supported through partnerships with governmental agencies, organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as voluntary contributions. Districts are divided into six areas within the state, with Area Vice-Presidents serving amongst the state officers. AFCD’s goals are multi-faceted, and include providing a direct link between soil and water conservation districts and the National Association of Conservation Districts and State of Florida.Working in concert with Districts from throughout the state,AFCD works to strengthen the legislative presence for soil and water conservation issues. Promoting conservation education for youth is also provided by AFCD through poster and speech

competitions, environmental studies and land judging. According to AFCD State President Jeff Moore of Gadsden County,“What makes Conservation District programs so unique is that they are citizen led initiatives by individuals from every walk of life. Our Supervisors represent a cross section of our state and that’s how they’ve operated since the Florida Legislature’s enactment of FS Chapter 582 in 1937.” Moore further reported.“We’re excited to be hosting the NACD national meeting in Orlando at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs from February 10 -16, 2022. Conservationists from across the country will be coming to Florida to see our wealth of agriculture and even be touring the Tampa Bay area.” Further information on AFCD is available by contacting Charlene Meeks, Executive Director, (352) 507.7065 or emailing Charlene. meeks@afcdfl.com. AFCD’s office is located at 1123 NW 19th Ave., Chiefland, Florida 32626.   Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Service

PART OF THE LAND GRANT MISSION A critical force in conservation and sustainability is the cutting-edge teaching, research and Extension programming disseminated by university-affiliated agents working with local growers and residents in urban, rural, suburban, and inner-city settings. In a nutshell, that’s the mission of federal land grant universities nationwide, including the University of Florida in Gainesville, which through its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) provides Extension services to each of the state’s 67 counties, including the Hillsborough County Extension Service in Seffner.


|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

As a land grant university first established in 1862 under President Abraham Lincoln, the agricultural work of UF/IFAS Extension involves small farms, nurseries, greenhouses, livestock, aquaculture, organic production, citrus, vegetables, herbs, and agronomic crops. Agricultural support aims to bolster an industry with $160 billion in total annual output, according to UF/IFAS reports. Beyond the farm and farmhouse, the work of extension reaches into homes, schoolhouses, businesses and all others, with Extension tailored to provide “solutions for your life” in the areas of gardening; water and environmental conservation, health, wellness and nutrition; food safety, preservation and storage; personal taxes and financial management; consumer education; hurricane preparedness; mold and mildew prevention; parenting and family life; youth development, certification courses for industry professionals and more. “Virtually everything we do in Extension has a link to conservation or sustainability,” said UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Director Stephen Gran. “And that’s whether you’re using your own resources at home, using the right techniques in your gardens, or being efficient on the farm. On the youth development side, training future leaders to become better leaders in the community and better stewards of the environment is the goal.” Lynn Barber is Hillsborough’s “Florida Friendly

Landscaping” Extension agent and oversees monthly programs in composting, in-ground and micro-irrigation and rainwater harvesting, including the tools needed to create-your-own rain barrels. She oversees recycled yard art contests at fairs and festivals and educates the public about “Florida Friendly Landscaping” principles. The first and foremost principle involves selecting the right plants for the right locations, which is where the on-site Betty S. Walker Discovery Garden in Seffner comes into play. It showcases examples of native and non-native adaptive plants grown in a variety of conditions, including sun and shade and raised-bed containers. The garden is named for the first executive director of the Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers Association. “People say [UF/IFAS] is the bestkept secret but I’m not sure how secret we are because we’re busier than ever since I’ve been in Extension,” Barber said, noting the impact of the pandemic on virtual learning and residents spending more time working on home and gardening projects. In the area of Family and Consumer Sciences, Lisa Leslie is an Extension agent for personal finance, which includes the Florida Master Money Mentor initiative. The program is for people who aim to gain self-knowledge or to work with others in credit and debt management, saving and investing for future goals, consumer loans and more. With a degree in horticulture and a graduate degree in vegetable crop rotation, as well as a minor in weed science, Shawn Steed said it’s his job as an Ornamental Horticulture Extension agent “to take knowledge and transmit it to nursery and greenhouse growers and producers in Polk and Hillsborough counties.” “Economics, weather and trade all play into the production role,” Steed said, noting one example of his work’s impact. “If we help producers and growers use less fertilizer, that helps them save money, so when droughts come, and they lose plants they have the resources to make up for that.” Moreover, “we bring up issues we see in the field and then get ready to solve them through research,” Steed said. “Once we get solutions, we work through Extension to bring those findings back to the community.” As a direct link from the Univer-

sity of Florida to the community, “everything Extension does involves a partner of some type, and we have probably hundreds of partners,” Gran said. Count among them state and local farm bureaus; state strawberry and blueberry growers’ associations; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS); the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association; and the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, which through its annual Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge aims to hammer home the fact that “Conservation is Everybody’s Business.” Also, part of the UF/IFAS link in Hillsborough County are two UF-based research stations. The UF/IFAS Tropical Agricultural Laboratory in Ruskin focuses on aquatic production and animal health and non-native species. The UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm aims “to develop and disseminate new scientific knowledge and technologies to help our growers be competitive in commercial agriculture,” according to Center Director and Professor Jack Rechigl. Topics include soil and water science, plant pathology, environmental horticulture, agriculture economics, and entomology and nematology, which is the study of insects and roundworms. At the Balm laboratory’s virtual field day in February 2021, UF college professors and researchers gave updates on their work, which included breeding for bacterial wilt resistance in tomatoes; managing invasive pests in an agriculturally diverse state; insect management in organic strawberries; and the use of drones and ground images to benefit Florida growers. Through their membership with the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, growers get first dibs on new varieties under development at the Balm research center by aiding in the research that underlies those breakthroughs. The latest of these new varieties is the Florida Medallion, described as having “outstanding flavor, excellent fruit quality” and an “even color and firmness.” Also upcoming is the Florida Pearl, known as the white strawberry and marketed as the pine berry. It’s white and rose-blush color is not the result of genetic engineering but rather a color “found in nature in a number of Japanese varieties,” said UF Associate Professor Vance Whitaker. “We simply

crossed that trait into our Florida Strawberry varieties.” Back at the UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Service, the work goes on to link teaching, research and science to homeowners, landowners, retailers, farmers, families, growers and more, and especially to the next generation. Brandi Yancy is the Agent for Florida 4-H, which follows the National 4-H mandates for citizenship, healthy living, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. The four H’s stand for “head, heart, health and hands.” “The common misperception is that 4-H is only about agriculture, but it’s so much more than that,” said Yancy. “Any interest that a child has can be turned into a 4-H project,” Yancy said. “I love how we’re able to take research and share it with the public. Each county has an Extension Service, which is like having a local university, with the experience and research available to you from the University of Florida.” As for the youth side of Extension, “it’s more about developing youth into knowledgeable and responsible citizens who have a positive impact on their communities and make a difference in their communities moving forward,” Yancy said. For more information to help enlighten, educate, and solve problems affecting agriculture, horticulture, and a wide range of family life issues, visit https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough. To view the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center Field Day 2021 videos, visit the Center’s YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/3cTsKWz. Visit the Center online at https://gcrec.ifas.ufl.edu. Visit the UF/IFAS Tropical Agriculture Laboratory at https://tal.ifas.ufl.edu. UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension offices are in Seffner, at 5339 County Road 579. Call: 813-744-5519.

National Association of Conservation Districts Serves the United States The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is the nonprofit organization representing America’s nearly 3,000 conservation districts and more than 17,000 volunteers who serve on their governing boards. With funding support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), NACD is pleased to have supported the inaugural Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge in 2017 with a grant to the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Since then, NACD has watched with excitement as the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge has grown into an annual event bringing together public and private partners to strengthen conservation awareness and education in Hillsborough and adjacent counties. Conservation districts are local units of government established under state law to carry out local natural resource management programs.They were formed in response to the Dust Bowl crisis of the 1930’s. NACD and its affiliated conservation districts support a voluntary, locally led approach to natural resources conservation, a valuable approach for a country in which the majority of land is privately owned. NACD and conservation districts promote good soil health practices such as crop rotation, cover crops and no- or minimum-tillage systems that keep soil on the ground; increase organic content; reduce the need for frequent applications of fertilizers; and mitigate the effects of drought, excessive heat and extreme weather on crops. Landowners and operators interested in these soil health management practices can learn more from the Hillsborough SWCD and NACD’s Soil Health Champions Network, a network of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who cham-

pion the benefits of soil health in their communities. No matter where you live, play or work, clean water is a critical resource. NACD and conservation districts make sure landowners and producers have the information and tools they need to protect water from sediment runoff, nutrients and other contaminants. They also work with partners and stakeholders to improve stormwater management, prevent and mitigate the effects of drought, and advance the restoration of dams and reservoirs. On Capitol Hill, NACD is the voice for the nation’s conservation districts on the most pressing federal conservation issues, including the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. As NACD celebrates its 75th anniversary, the importance of educating the next generation of land stewards and conservation leaders is critical. One such effort is National Soil Stewardship Week, which this year runs April 25 through May 2.The 2021 theme, “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities” celebrates the vital role trees play in absorbing carbon, stabilizing soil, filtering water, providing wildlife habitats, and more. Educational resources are available through the Hillsborough SWCD and NACD. As we look toward to the next 75 years, conservation districts maintain an ever-more important role in their communities, working with many partners to ensure the natural resources we depend upon for water, air, food, fuel, fiber, recreation and so much more remain productive and resilient as we face both new and old challenges.Thank you for supporting your local conservation district and for championing the importance of protecting natural resources through the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge. Candice Abinanti is NACD’s Southeast Region Representative.

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


NRCS FLORIDA ... Providing Farmers Financial and Technical Assistance NRCS’s presence in Florida is guided by the leadership of State Conservationist Juan Hernandez, with offices located at 4500 NW 27th Avenue, Building A, in Gainesville, Florida. In addition, the state is divided into four administrative areas, with each directing multiple field offices.According to Hernandez,“It’s our goal to offer the most comprehensive services available to meet the needs of our agricultural community.We’re here to provide both financial and technical assistance to create the most successful outcomes possible for every farmer.”

components of this program. Other valuable NRCS programs include those for beginning farmers and ranchers. For individuals farming less than ten years, reimbursement for implementation of conservation practices is paid at 90%, rather than the more common 75% cost share. In addition, Florida NRCS provided limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers $858,139 in assistance in 2020.

According to the recently released 2020 NRCS Florida Conservation Accomplishments Report, the state has been involved in a myriad of conservation activities.Through the Farm Bill program, NRCS engaged in activities under Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQUIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).The Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides financial and technical assistance to address natural resource concerns and improve water and air quality. In addition, it conserves ground and surface water, reduces soil erosion and sedimentation, and improves or creates wildlife habitat. Through CPS, agricultural producers receive help to improve and maintain existing conservation practices and to adopt additional conservation activities to improve resource conditions.The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program,ACEP, provides technical and financial assistance to help conserve agricultural lands, wetlands, and their related benefits.Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) are the two

HSWCD and NRCS Team Up For Local Working Group Meeting 24CC

Three Florida initiatives that are also funded through the EQUIP are the Lonfleaf Pine Initiative, the Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative, and the Everglades Grazing Initiative. NRCS also partners with groups like Conservation Districts, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,The Nature Conservancy, Florida Land Trust, Conservation Funds and others to work on landscape- and watershed- scale projects selected on a competitive basis.

Juan Hernandez, State Conservationist

Another critical program of NRCS Florida is the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), which assists in recovery efforts to relieve imminent hazards to life and property due to disasters such as floods, fires, hurricanes, and windstorms. EWP funded $33,043,952 for repairs and debris removal in 2020 following hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Michael. While the top conservation practices differ from state to state, Florida’s include cover crops, fencing, forest stand improvement, herbaceous weed control, irrigation water management, prescribed burning and brush management, and watering systems.

Want your opinions heard? Farmers, ranchers, agricultural educators, affiliated partners, and the public are invited to join the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resource Conservation Service for the annual Local Working Group meeting. Scheduled from 3:00 until 5:30 pm on Thursday, May 27, 2021 at the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, this meeting is designed to

|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

NRCS A History of Helping People Help the Land Since its inception in 1935, the United States Department of Agriculture’ s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), then known as the Soil Conservation Service, has maintained its original mission: Helping People Help the Land. It was born from the realization that the wastage of soil and moisture resources represented “a menace to the national welfare” and established as a permanent agency of USDA. Its name change in 1994 was a reflection of the expansion of services and responsibilities carried out by the agency. NRCS works in close partnerships with farmers and ranchers, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes. As the decades have rolled by, so have the challenges faced by NRCS and its farmer/rancher community. Watershed planning has played a significant role in the Agency’s mission since the 1930’s, but the passage of the Watershed Protection and Flood Control Act in 1954 represented a major development of the Post-War era. A broad interest in the health of the environment began to emerge in the 1960’s and 70’s, with the first Earth Day established in 1970. That same year, President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act, which required federal agencies to evaluate and report on the environmental impacts of their activities. As a result of the farm crisis of the 80’s, innovative conservation policies were developed and implemented. With the adoption of the Food Security Act of 1985, conservation became a prerequisite for participation in USDA programs. The 1990’s brought a significant reorganization of USDA and the name change to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. With this change also came a movement towards greater responsibility by NRCS for the administration of financial assistance for conservation. Today, more than ever, NRCS has developed science-based tools and standards for agronomy, economics, engineering, forestry, wildlife biology and other disciplines used by NRCS staff to assist agricultural operators throughout the nation in developing and installing conservation practices. Their goal, ultimately, is to work closely with land users so their conservation plan reconciles with their overall objectives.

determine priorities for NRCS in the coming years. Among the issues to be addressed are the funding pools for NRCS programs. While two of the fixed local funding pools are grazing and cropland, participants will have an opportunity to recommend two additional pools from forestry, water conservation, seasonal high tunnel, brush and herbaceous weed control, invasive plants, or other issues.

Other issues to be addressed include recommended levels of investment in selected funding pools and the opportunity to select eight Resource Concern Categories for FY 2022 as Priority for Florida. For those unable to attend, questionnaires are available by calling (813) 477.8332 or emailing tompkinsb@hillsboroughcounty.org. Please register by May 24th via phone or email above.

New District Conservationist Joins NRCS Hillsborough Office

New District Conservationist Leslie Diaz-Alvarez (center) with B J Duggal, area Blueberry Farmer (left) and Area Conservationist Walter Albarran (right) with NRCS examining new land for expansion of blueberry farm.

Leslie Diaz-Alvarez joined Hillsborough’s NRCS office as District Conservationist in January 2021. Born and raised in Juncos, Puerto Rico, she graduated with a BS degree in Soil Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico; then joined NRCS in Minnesota. For Ms. Diaz-Alvarez her career choice was simple, “Agronomy is just my passion! I love working with different plants, exotic fruits, insects, and forestry. For me, our relationship with the environment and nature is significant.” While employed as a Soil Conservationist in Minnesota, Leslie worked with land users and customers providing the best service possible in designing comprehensive conservation plans that met both financial and technical goals. In addition, she managed the EQUIP program and served as the Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator for the state. In this role she was responsible for assisting the program at 22 Service Centers. In her new position covering Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, she’ll be supporting popular practices such as micro-irrigation, cover crops, fence and forest management plans, structures for water control, water wells and others. For individuals who lease or own land for pasture, crops, associated ag lands, forests and farmsteads funding is available through several programs. For more information, contact Leslie Diaz-Alvarez, Office (813) 473.4885 or Cell (813) 339.1431 or visit the office (by appointment please), 201 South Collins Street, Suite 202, Plant City, Florida 33563.

Executive Director Betty Jo Tompkins taped a program at Fryed Egg Productions in Plant City on the Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge that was featured at the NACD 2021 National meeting. Similar programs have been presented by HSWCD to groups throughout Florida and around the country.   Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Protecting the Public and Agriculture Alike Ever wonder what forestry, gas station pump inspections and concealed weapon licensing programs have in common? Well, in Florida they’re all under the umbrella of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Originally established in the Florida Constitution in 1868 as the Office of Commissioner of Immigration, its initial purpose was to attract settlers to Florida. Three years later the Constitution was amended to combine that office with the Office of Surveyor General to create the new Commissioner of Lands and Immigration.

Her jurisdiction includes supervision of multiple divisions and offices, including: Administration; Agricultural Environmental Services; Agricultural Law Enforcement; Agricultural Water Policy; Animal Industry; Aquaculture; Cabinet Affairs; Communications; Consumer Services; Energy; Florida Forest Service; Food, Nutrition and Wellness; Food Safety; Fruit and Vegetables; General Counsel; Inspector General; Licensing; Marketing and Development; and Plant Industry.

As its mission and structure changed, the name also changed. In 1885 the Constitution was revised, renaming the Commissioner of Lands and Immigration as the Commissioner of Agriculture. Then, in 1969, the Florida Legislature reorganized the department, establishing the Division of Consumer Services and the Division of Forestry. This resulted in a name change to its current designation, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

While the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District works with multiple divisions, it is most heavily involved with the Office of Agricultural Water Policy. This Division administers the agricultural cost share program throughout Florida. Additionally,

The Department is a Florida cabinet position, with Nicole “Nikki” Fried the current Commissioner of Agriculture.

Over 100 years ago, Plant helped to settle the community later named for him and built a railroad between there and Tampa to move fresh produce from that area to the growing population to the west. The


agricultural community was incorporated in 1885 with cotton as its primary crop. Within a few years, the primary crop in Plant City converted to strawberries, and with that gained the designation of “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World”. Today, virtually the entire US winter crop is grown in Hillsborough County, which accounts for 15% of the total annual yearround production in the US. Hillsborough County boasts over 11,000 acres of strawberries, representing an economic impact exceeding $700 million. As production has grown, so did the need

|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times

The scope of activities carried out by FDACS continues to grow, as Florida produces over 300 agricultural commodities, including being among the leading states in a number of fruit and vegetable categories, ornamental horticulture and others. In addition, Florida is a major agriculture exporter to markets across the globe, including meats, fruits and vegetables and dairy products.

Questions? 1-800-HELP-FLA (1800-435-7352) or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (1-800-352-9832). Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm EST, Live Chat. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Capitol, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0800.

HSWCD is a member of the Fresh From Florida program promoting the purchase and use of Florida grown

Florida Strawberry Growers Association They’re red, juicy and delicious, like rubies shining in the sunlight. And they’re none other than the gems that have made Plant City, Florida the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. You might be wondering how strawberry production ended up in Hillsborough county. The answer lies in the namesake of Plant City, Henry Bradley Plant, a developer, and railroad builder on Florida’s west coast.


for a commodity organization to support growers and distributors. Just over 40 years ago, a few growers began meeting to determine the best way to organize to represent the Florida Strawberry Industry. From these meetings was born the Florida Strawberry Growers Association in 1982. In the ensuing years the Association formed the Florida Strawberry Patent Service Corporation, providing turnkey services for royalties. FSPS promotes patented varieties, helps protect patents, develops overseas markets, and returns a majority of royalty revenues back into research through the University of Florida. Another sister organization of FSGA is the Florida Strawberry Research and Education Foundation. Research funding underway includes initiatives to improve production methodologies, enhance flavor, increase plant disease resistance, improve management of invasive insect species, increase efficiencies in water use, provide in-house tissue culturing and other critical projects. FSGA has awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to deserving students since its inception. Additionally, the Association conducts numerous educational programs for youth and adults throughout the year and participates in fairs and festivals.

President of the Association is John Sizemore. In addition, Kenneth Parker serves as Executive Director of the Florida Strawberry Growers, with Sue Harrell, also known as “Strawberry Sue” serving as Director of Marketing. Tiffany Dale, Director of Membership Services & Community Relations, and Sarah Williams, Business Manager and Jammer, round out the staff. FSGA offices are located at 13138 Lewis Gallagher Road, Dover, Florida 33527. Phone: (813) 752.6822; Fax (813) 752.2167. Mailing address: Post Office Drawer 2550, Plant City, 33564. www. Floridastrawberry.org

Sue Harrell, FSGA Director of Marketing

Agricultural Industry Development, Protecting Agricultural Resources and Businesses in Hillsborough County Southwest Florida Water Management District, Preserves Our Water Resources Founded in 1961, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, unofficially nicknamed “Swiftmud”, is one of 5 regional agencies charged with the responsibility of protecting and preserving the state’s water resources. The other four districts within the state are the South Florida Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, Suwannee River Water Management District and Northwest Florida Water Management District. Swiftmud has jurisdiction over all or part of sixteen counties: Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Lake, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter, and Hillsborough.Approximately 10,000 square miles make up the District, serving a population of more than 5 million people.The District is divided into eight basins, based primarily on watershed or geographic boundaries. The District’s annual budget exceeds $188 million, and its headquarters are located at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida 34604. Funding for the District is derived from a tax levy of up to 1 mill ($1 for each $1,000 of accessed land value) and other sources such as the Florida Forever Program. Responsibilities of the District include managing water supply and protecting water quality and the natural systems--water, lakes, wetlands as well as uplands. Over 2.5 million people annually visit public conservation lands acquired by the District and its partners.These are maintained to protect the state’s vital water resources. Hillsborough County properties under the District’s jurisdiction include Brooker Creek Headwaters Nature preserve, Chito Branch Reserve, Edward Medard Park and Reserve, Little Manatee River Lower Tract, Little Manatee River Upper Tract, Lower Hillsborough Wilderness preserve, Schultz Preserve, and the Tampa Bypass Canal. Further information on the programs, projects and activities of the Southwest Florida Water Management District is available at WaterMatters.org or https://watermatters.org.

Hillsborough County’s Agricultural Industry Development Program operates under Hillsborough’s Economic Development Department. The purpose of the program is to initiate and assist with efforts to create a business atmosphere conducive to the continuation and extension of agricultural businesses to benefit all its residents.

plishing the goals of the Ag Development Program. Members represent commodity groups such as cattle, strawberries, aquaculture, vegetables, and ornamental horticulture, among others.Additional members represent Farm Bureau and other at-large agricultural interests. Serving currently as Chairman is Dennis Carlton, representing the cattle industry and owner of Audubon Ranch.

Major goals of the program include discouraging premature conversion of productive farmland to non-agricultural use, promoting expansion and relocation of agribusiness firms within the county, improving the county’s economic stability for agriculture through the identification and resolution of barriers to the expansion or continuation of agriculture, and minimizing the impacts of regulatory processes on agriculture.

Another activity of the agency is the Veterans in Agriculture Program, designed to assist military members transition into agriculture careers.This program offers an opportunity to explore careers in precision agriculture, energy crops, agribusiness, food science and technology, community supported agriculture environmental protection, aquaculture, and others.

The Agriculture Economic Development Council, established in 1998 by the Board of County Commissioners, assists in accom-

For information on this exciting program and others, contact: Simon Bollin, Manager of Agribusiness Industry Development at bollins@hcflgov.net.

Annual Conservation and Environmental Celebrations Looking for a conservation project or activity you can participate in throughout the year? Why not consider getting a group together to celebrate the many different facets of conservation covered in this list. Complete a project and report back to the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, (813) 752.1474 Ext. 3 or (813) 477.8332. You might just be one of the winning groups honored at the HSWCD’s Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge kickoff luncheon in the fall. Everyone’s eligible, so get started now! THIRD FRIDAY IN JANUARY Florida Arbor Day FEBRUARY 2 World Wetlands Day FEBRUARY 25 National Skip the Straw Day MARCH 3 World Wildlife Day MARCH 21 International Day of Forests MARCH 22 World Water Day WEEK BEFORE EARTH DAY National Environmental Education Week APRIL 22 Earth Day LAST FRIDAY IN APRIL National Arbor Day

LAST SUNDAY IN APRIL FIRST SUNDAY IN MAY NACD Soil Stewardship Week MAY 20 World Bee Day MAY 21 National Endangered Species Day MAY 22 International Day for Biological Diversity MAY 29 Learn About Composting Day THIRD FRIDAY IN MAY Bike-To-Work Day FIRST SATURDAY IN JUNE National Trails Day JUNE 5 World Environment Day National Prairie Day JUNE 8 World Oceans Day

JUNE 15 Global Wind Day

SEPTEMBER 17-19, 2021 Clean Up the World Weekend

OCTOBER 17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

SEPTEMBER 21 Zero Emissions Day

OCTOBER 22 World Planting Day

JUNE 22 World Rainforest Day

SEPTEMBER 22 World Car-Free Day

JULY 11 World Population Day


OCTOBER 24 International Day of Climate Action

JUNE 17 World Day To Combat Desertification and Drought

JULY 26 International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem AUGUST 12 International Youth Day SEPTEMBER International Coastal Cleanup Month SEPTEMBER 4 National Wildlife Day SEPTEMBER 16 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

NOVEMBER 15 America Recycles Day

FIRST WEEK IN OCT. Junk Mail Awareness Week

NOVEMBER 21 World Fisheries Day

FIRST MONDAY IN OCT. World Habitat Day

DECEMBER 5 World Soil Day

SECOND WED. IN OCT. International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

DECEMBER 11 World Mountain Day

OCTOBER 4 World Animal Day

DECEMBER 14 National Energy Conservation Day

OCTOBER 8 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Day OCTOBER 16 World Food Day

Sources: www.ProjectGreenSchools.org, https://nationaltoday.com/conservation/, https://www.ecowatch.com/celebrate-50-green-holidays-1881906059.html, https://www.cleanuptheworld.org

Tampa Bay Times  |  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |



|  Sunday, April 18, 2021  |  Tampa Bay Times