Every year at this time, Florida agriculture reflects on its past and identifies a few of the remarkable men and women of our community for special recognition. We submit the names and accomplishments of those who have contributed their time, talents and resources for the benefit of the agricultural community and the people of Florida to the nominating committee of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Without all these people, Florida agriculture would not be the bulwark of the state’s economy, nor would it be the standard for excellence recognized throughout the world.
Once the nominees are chosen, we gather to celebrate each of them individually and to watch as they are inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame before their families, friends and colleagues. Each year, we watch the profiles of the year’s inductees, the records of their work and the obstacles they fought to overcome, reflecting on the fruits of their labors, not just on their farm or ranch but for agriculture and for Florida.
These men and women, with the support of their families and their businesses, have worked hard to grow and harvest their crops, develop scientific knowledge and grow the economy of Florida, spending time and resources that could have gone to other people and other causes.
The inductees’ stories are really the stories of families. At my induction, I shared that both my grandfathers were farmers in Florida. My wife’s support for me throughout my career made it possible for me to do the work that I both enjoyed and knew needed to be done. I am proud that both my daughters continue our family legacy through their work in Florida agriculture, one as an attorney and the other as one of the state’s leaders in protecting crops from pests.
The members of the Hall all have their stories of family heritage and legacies of service. In no other sector are families tied to the land for generations as they are in agriculture. Many of the state’s farming operations, both large and small, are family businesses. When the history of Florida agriculture is told at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony each year, it is really the story of these families and their businesses.
Agriculture is a close community, with relationships born of obstacles overcome and our shared mission to feed Florida and the world. Together, we celebrate our triumphs and mourn our losses, knowing that the sun will rise with the promise of a new day.
During this year’s nominating season, we are saddened to hear of the passing of two members of the Hall of Fame, Louis “Red” Larson and Ben Hill Griffin III. Many tributes have been published recognizing their lives and their work on behalf of their commodities (Larson in dairy and Griffin in citrus), agriculture (their service and leadership in many organizations) and the people of Florida (their contributions to their communities, economic growth, and their substantial gifts in support of education).
Press coverage repeatedly identified these men as members of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame and quoted their stories as preserved in the Hall’s records. It reminds us that the Hall’s purpose, long term, is to assure the names and achievements of those who committed their lives to agriculture, who invested their time and talent in service to Florida, are documented for future generations. In those documents, their stories live on, inspiring us all to be better than we are.
Hugh English was born in Alva and has lived in Southwest Florida all of his life. He was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2008 in recognition of his service to the citrus industry.
Story courtesy of News Press