The University of Floridaâ€™s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and Florida A&M Universityâ€™s Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Focus Team are pleased to announce the three winners of the Innovative Farmer Award for this yearâ€™s conference.
The Innovative Farmer Award recognizes farmers and ranchers who are innovative leaders and excel in making their farming systems more profitable over the long term, using farming practices that enhance natural resources, leading or participating in activities that support viable communities and providing outreach and/or education about sustainable agriculture ideas and practices to others.
The winners are:
- Ken Ryan owns Herban Gardens in North Fort Myers. Ryan started his farming career in New Hampshire but moved to Florida in 1999. His farm produces micro-greens, herbs and edible flowers in only a half-acre of space on his 5 acres. Ryanâ€™s operation has focused on quality, developing strong relationships with high-end restaurants. Ryan has served in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Advisory Committee. He is also an active member of the Southwest Florida Small Farmers Network. His farm has hosted numerous tours and workshops, and he has served as an agricultural mentor for many.
- Steve Crump runs Vo-LaSalle Farms in DeLeon Springs. This highly diversified farm produces citrus, vegetables, beef cattle pasture, bermuda hay and livestock. Initially a commercial citrus operation, the farm has transitioned into a retail business. The farm uses natural vegetation buffers to protect lakes, no-till practices to prevent soil erosion. It also uses innovative fertilizer and irrigation inputs and techniques that prevent leaching and make the most efficient use of water. Crump is chairman of the University of Florida Volusia County citrus advisory committee and the Volusia Citrus Health Management Area. Crump has been actively involved in hosting multiple farm events and is often consulted for his expertise.
- Hugh Fred Dietrich III and his family operate Dietrichâ€™s Flying D Ranch in Orlando. The ranch is recognized as maintaining one of the leading Santa Gertrudis Cattle herds. Their ranch management has always promoted wildlife habitat conservation, helping to maintain the health of the Econlockhatchee River and its associated hardwood swamp. Dieterich worked as an agribusiness educator and has served in leadership of organizations including the Orange County Farm Bureau, Orange County Cattlemenâ€™s Association and the Florida Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association.
The awards ceremony will take place during the conference opening, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Aug. 2.
For registration and more information on this yearâ€™s Florida Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference, visit http://www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/smallfarms or register in-person the day of the conference.