Fountain “Fount” H. May, Sr.
Born Oct. 17, 1919, on the family farm in Quincy, Fla., Fountain “Fount” H. May Sr. has never left his agricultural roots. May is owner of a 300-acre container nursery in Quincy, and an industry leader who has helped introduce Florida nursery products to markets around the world.
He started out helping run the family tobacco business in 1945 when he returned from attending college at the University of Florida and serving a stint in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. Times were good for the tobacco industry then, and May, his brother, Don, and their families enjoyed the success of their labors. May’s interest in the welfare of the agricultural industry translated into his participation in developing hybrid seeds to improve production of cigar leaf tobacco with Florida Hybrid Seed Co.
However, May began to explore other agricultural opportunities as cigar manufacturers started shifting some of their operations overseas in search of less expensive labor in the 1960s. He started May Nursery, Inc., in 1970 on four acres of land, and took advantage of workshops, seminars and trade shows to learn everything he could about his new venture.
His need for information led him to Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association, the beginning of what has turned out to be a 30-year relationship. He served as president of FNGA in 1980 and was an ambassador for the industry from then on, traveling to Europe and the Pacific Rim several times to introduce homegrown products and forge trading relationships.
FNGA adopted a second trade show, the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition, and signed its first marketing agreement with the federal Foreign Agricultural Service during May’s tenure as president. His travels to the Netherlands, considered the center of Europe’s horticulture trading industry, resulted in Florida nurserymen exhibiting in international flower shows and May serving as a judge in the prestigious Floralies of Ghent in Belgium in 1985 and 1990. He also helped establish the United States/Florida nursery exhibit at the Liverpool Garden Festival in England and had the honor of presenting it to Queen Elizabeth.
May visited the Pacific Rim countries of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore twice on trade missions to help establish more of a global marketplace for Florida agricultural products. He also proved to a valuable ally back home where he met with the Florida delegation in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the University of Florida Extension Service.
In addition to FNGA, May is a member of Gadsden County Farm Bureau and former governor of the American Association of Nurserymen, former president of the Southern Nurserymen’s Association, and former president of the Florida Nursery and Allied Trade Show. He has been honored as Florida Nurseryman of the Year by FNGA in 1982, Outstanding Farmer of the Year by Gadsden County Farm Bureau in 1983, Nurseryman of the Year by the Southern Nurseryman Association in 1992, and Rotary Club’s “Four-Way Test Award,” an honor he shares with his wife, Carolyn.
May and his wife, Carolyn, have been married 56 years. They have three children and are active in their church, local library and in the local music and arts community.