Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced the three winners of the state’s Agriculture-Environmental Leadership Award, which recognizes agricultural enterprises that are at the forefront of developing and adopting environmentally innovative farming practices.
The recipients are:
- Dudley Calfee of Ferris Farms Inc. in Floral City. Ferris Farms has harvested the first commercial flats of strawberries in the state for the past six years and produces more than 200,000 flats of strawberries and more than 250,000 pounds of blueberries each year. All the while, the farm has reduced the use of pesticides, plastic mulch and plastic drip tube and has perfected techniques to reuse 35% of these materials each year and reduced fungicide applications by 50%. They are a leading example of increasing crop yields and decreasing production cost through innovation.
- Barbra Goering of The Farmton Tree Farm, a 59,000-acre forest timber operation straddling Volusia and Brevard counties. In partnership with local counties, Miami Corporation, which manages the land, created the Farmton Local Plan, an innovative 50-year vision for the future to place nearly 80% of the land into conservation, including a critical regional wildlife corridor and environmentally significant habitat. The Farmton Tree Farm serves as a model for large-scale and long-range planning efforts, by creating sustainable places for jobs, recreation, and living in the future.
- Shane Platt of Kissimmee Park Properties LLC, in St. Cloud. Kissimmee Park Properties’ goal has been to protect the ranch as both an economic source and as a sustainable wildlife habitat and ecological component to the region. The ranch has been under the same family ownership for 135 years and operates a 250 head cow-calf operation. The ranch has always operated in an environmentally and economically sound method to ensure the natural environment can be passed on to the family’s sixth generation of ranchers. Kissimmee Park Properties recognizes both the economic and ecological value of a well-run cattle operation – and represents Florida cattlemen well.
“These recipients represent the best of the best in developing and implementing progressive techniques to safeguard the environment and conserve natural resources,” Commissioner Putnam said. “All three share a commitment to protect and preserve Florida’s resources while continuing to provide top-notch agricultural products for our state, our country, and across the globe.”
Nominees from different parts of Florida’s agricultural industry were reviewed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and industry and environmental groups. Environmental practices considered in the nominations include: wildlife protection and habitat conservation, pesticide/nutrient management, water quality, soil and water conservation, and waste management/recycling.
The Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award has been presented annually since 1994. The program spotlights the environmentally innovative farming practices of the state’s growers and ranchers. The winners will be recognized at the Florida Farm Bureau’s Convention at the Commissioner Ag Environmental Leadership Breakfast on October 25 at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra.