The 2023 winners of Florida’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award are Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery, Rocking K Cattle and Island Grove Wine Company. The winners were announced May 30 by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson.
Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Awards have been presented annually since 1994 and spotlight environmentally innovative growers and ranchers who share a commitment to protecting and preserving Florida’s resources while continuing to produce world-class agricultural goods.
“These growers and ranchers exemplify innovation, environmental stewardship and sustainable practices that are essential for the future of Florida agriculture,” Simpson said. “Their commitment to preserving Florida’s natural resources while continuing to produce the highest quality agricultural goods is truly praiseworthy.”
Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery, in Lake Panasoffkee, specializes in the growth of commercial, retail and wholesale citrus trees within fully enclosed, insect-proof greenhouses spanning 90,000 square feet. Owners Nate and Anna Jameson prioritize land sustainability and have implemented eco-friendly measures to reduce water and fertilizer usage through best management practices (BMPs).
Transitioning from overhead to drip irrigation has resulted in a remarkable 60% water savings, reducing water consumption from 24,000 to less than 10,000 gallons per day. Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery also uses coconut coir, a sustainable byproduct of coconut oil, as a potting medium due to its sanitation properties and compatibility with a liquid fertigation system.
Outside the greenhouses, pine trees are planted as windbreaks and to create natural habitats for local wildlife. Brite Leaf Citrus Nursery is also a recipient of the Florida Farm Bureau CARES Award.
The other Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award winners honored by FDACS are:
- Rocking K Cattle, located in Odessa and operated by Kelly Fulford. It stands out for its sustainable cattle ranching and hay production.
- Island Grove Wine Company, in Hawthorne, encompasses a blueberry farm, a nursery and a winery. FDACS says owner and founder Ken Patterson, along with his nephew-in-law Jerod and daughter Sarah, diligently implement BMPs across their locations in Putnam, Alachua and DeSoto counties.
Visit FDACS.gov for more information about the Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award, including past winners.
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