Eco-Conscious Florida Farmers to be Feted for Their Efforts

Chuck Allison of Spring Valley Farms inspects a young citrus tree

Chuck Allison of Wild Goose Farms in Umatilla, FL, is among a trio of Florida farmers being recognized as 2018 winners of the Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award. Photo by Frank Giles

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has officially announced the recipients of the state‚Äôs 2018 Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award. The honor, which has been presented annually since 1994, recognizes environmentally innovative farming techniques used by Florida’s farmers and ranchers committed to preserving the state’s resources while providing agricultural products.

This year’s winners are: Chuck Allison of Wild Goose Farms in Umatilla; James Shinn of Shinn Groves/Tree O’Groves in Lake Alfred; and Jim Strickland of Blackbeard’s Ranch in Manatee County.

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Meet the Winners:

  • Chuck Allison, Wild Goose Farms
    The family-run, 905-acre farm operation includes citrus, blueberries, cattle, and hay. To maximize irrigation and fertilizer efficiency, reduce leaching, and deep percolation, Allison implemented a multifaceted approach to water conservation and nutrient management, including soil-moisture sensors, drip irrigation, and a fertilizer injection system. In blueberry production, this technology reduced water usage by 20% and increased the yield by 30%. Due to the success with blueberries, Allison recently replicated this technology in its citrus production.
James Shinn

James Shinn
Photo by Frank Giles

  • James Shinn, Shinn Groves/Tree O’Groves Inc.
    The family operation includes citrus, cattle, and peach orchards. Shinn was an early adopter of best management practices (BMPs) and he helped shape certain practices that have now been formally integrated into the statewide BMPs for citrus. Shinn implements composting, slow-release fertilizers, and rotational cattle grazing to help protect Florida’s natural resources and reduce water run-off. Shinn also samples new varieties of citrus and peaches for improved resiliency, and he shares this knowledge with the community and nearby growers.

  • Jim Strickland, Blackbeard’s Ranch
    Managing partner Jim Strickland is an acclaimed steward of the land, implementing practices that sustain wildlife, support land restoration, combat invasive plants, and renew water quality around the 4,530-acre cow-calf operation in Manatee County. Blackbeard’s Ranch, which sports the motto: “when agriculture and conservation unite,” serves as a site for many conservation studies, including a partnership with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to study the Florida panther. Restored wetlands store clean water that is provided to the city of North Port, Myakka River, and Charlotte Harbor estuary as necessary.

The winners will be recognized on Oct. 26, 2018, during the Commissioner’s Ag-Environmental Leadership Breakfast held at the Florida Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention.