Aquaculture is big business in Florida, accounting for more than $200 million in annual revenue and making Florida one of the top producers in the nation for this branch of agriculture.
Guests at the 2022 One Martin Farm-City luncheon on Nov. 17 learned about the innovative ways that the Florida aquaculture community is farming the seas, its growing promise to address an increasing global demand for food, and its local economic impact.
Now in its fifth year, the One Martin's Farm-City Luncheon, held in partnership with the Martin County Farm Bureau, brings together urban and rural residents of Martin County to celebrate the important relationships between farmers, consumers, civic leaders, and everyone in between who contribute to the community’s safe, abundant food supply. It is part of the national celebration of Farm City Week, traditionally held the week before Thanksgiving to highlight the interdependence between rural and urban citizens.
“People have an image of agriculture as fields of citrus groves or cattle grazing on the land, and that’s certainly an accurate picture of a good portion of western Martin County,” said Rick Hartman, president of One Martin, a nonprofit organization that hosts the local Farm-City luncheon each year. “But there’s much more to farming than row crops and livestock. There’s an entire aquaculture (fish farming) industry that provides important food sources grown in water. It’s a big economic driver in our region.”
Megan Davis, Ph.D., Research Professor with the Aquaculture and Stock Enhancement Program at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, described HBOI’s ongoing work to develop sustainable production techniques for farming fish, clams, oysters, shrimp, urchins, algae, seaweed and sea veggies. “Our research work has immediate and practical impacts on the food supply, health and nutrition, and the environment,” Davis said. “It’s cool science and it’s also the hope of the future.”
Butch Olsen, Executive Director of the Port Salerno Commercial Fishing Dock Authority, and Paige Cruise, a 16-year-old passionate advocate for Florida agriculture, inspired the sold-out luncheon audience with a renewed appreciation for the agricultural community and how interdependent rural and urban communities are. “Everything in our day, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear and the homes we live in, comes from the farm in some way,” Cruise said. “Agriculture is our life blood.”
The Farm-City luncheon menu was a model of farm-to-table cuisine: beef from the iconic Adams Ranch, flounder and sheepshead from the Port Salerno Commercial Fishing Dock Authority, veggies from the Everglades Agricultural Area, and potatoes from Agri-Gators. The event took place at Pirate’s Cove Resort and Marina, a prominent part of the Historic Port Salerno Waterfront District.
A fast-paced live auction by Ransom Hartman included a tour of Bull Hammock Ranch by ranch owner Wes Carlton, an Ernie Barnett painting of St. Lucie Boulevard, and an afternoon trail ride for four at the Hobe Sound Polo Grounds, which helped One Martin raise funds to continue its educational work.
One Martin is grateful for the sponsorship support of these organizations: Ashley Capitol, Becker Tree Farm; Adams Ranch; Three Lakes; Midbrook 1st Realty Corp.; Hartman Real Estate; The Tucker Group; M Ranch; Star Farms; O’Rourke Engineering and Planning; Velcon Engineering and Planning; U.S. Sugar; HJA Design Studio; Shearwater Marine and Industrial; Bull Hammock Ranch; Van Vonno Consulting; McNicholas & Associates; Captec Engineering; Market on Main; Agri-Gators; Wedgworth’s; Team Parks; SLC Commercial; Camo Farms; Ralicki Wealth management & Trust Services; Ideas For Us; Proctor Construction Co.; The MilCor Group, a division of Haley Ward, Inc.; Indiantown Marina; Tarpon Blue; Meritage Homes; Lucido & Associates; Family Lands Remembered; Sugar Cane Growers; Tellus; and Caulkins Water Farm.
About One Martin
One Martin is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to creating a more informed citizenry and providing opportunities for civil discussions on topics of importance to Martin County. One Martin’s goal is to also encourage local government to operate more ethically, efficiently and transparently. For more information visit www.onemartin.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OneMartinCounty.