Our family immigrated from Ireland via Charleston, South Carolina in the 1650s. We were Hugenots originially from France but living in Ireland at the time. We came to escape unpromising conditions in Ireland and to take advantage of the Land Grant of King George the II. That whole deal eventually fell apart and our family ended up in Virginia. From there we spread to Alabama. We finally ended up in Florida when our great-grandfather came here to grow citrus.
The story long told in our family, is that our great-grandfather was making a decent living in Alabama. The local doctor told him he thought when his patients ate citrus fruits they had less colds and were generally healthier. They struck up a deal for grandfather to move to Florida to begin to plant citrus trees.
That was over 100 years ago and the family continues to farm citrus even though the industry has been hit hard by freezes and now, deadly viral infections. We farm other crops as well and some of us have entered the organic beef industry.
Our family belongs to the Florida Organic Growers Association. You can find more about them at their website at www.foginfo.org. What we particularly like is the ongoing education they offer. Although we've been farming a long time, there are always new, innovative ideas out there. We also like to share.
Our daddies grew up in a time where everyone in their community farmed. They might drive trucks, too, or own a business, but everybody farmed and grew some, if not all, of their own food. We remember heading down to the local market/hardware/gas/butcher/clothing store on the main road through town to drink a soda and shoot the breeze. They talked about their crops. They talked about their chickens and their cows. They sold and shared and stayed connected. We do this still today (only it looks a little different) which is why we chose to join FOG.
FOG hosts regular workshops for farmers. Their next one is June 15 at Coldwater Farms in Milton. The folks at Coldwater offer "glamping accomodations" for only $50/night. Milton is located up in the Florida Panhandle so you all from Central Florida might want to catch the shuttle from Gainesville Regional up to Pensacola. Coldwater Farms calls what they do "agri-tourism" and it's certainly not how our daddies farmed! Farming certainly has its ups and downs. Farming can be real drudgery. And it can be very rewarding and satisfying. Getting together with other farmers is a good thing to do.