Some tour stops may change due to COVID19 concerns, but the theme will remain the same.
1 – Northern Everglades Ag Tour – Christa Kirby and Paulette Tomlinson
Discover the beauty and challenges of the relationships between the Florida water system and local agriculture. Start with the Butler Oaks Dairy farm on the Kissimmee River. The dairy has been on the river since 1965. They recycle all their water and strive to improve water as it traverses their varied landscapes before it enters the Kissimmee River. The farm is nestled between the manmade channel like structure that runs from Orlando to Lake Okeechobee and the old meandering runs of the natural system. Next visit one of the oldest and largest cattle ranches in Florida, Lykes Brothers. While the ranch division specializes in cattle, they’re property also diversifies into hunting leases, timber, sod and vegetable production. Visit the ranch and see how their operation and the water shed benefits from water storage and filtration. Then, have lunch on the banks of Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater Lake in the Southeast. We will have a catfish lunch at the top of Lake Okeechobee, where will meet with a water management expert to help explain the lake’s many challenges. If weather permits, we will ride an airboat onto Lake Okeechobee so you can see how it all comes together!
2 – Cowboys and Ice Cream – Colleen Larson and Kalan Royal
Okeechobee prides itself on the nickname of “Cowtown”, being home to more cattle than people. Come explore the diversity within the dairy and beef industries in Okeechobee. The 1st stop is Larson Dairy, a family owned and managed 5,000 cow freestall dairy working to improve sustainability with genetics, methane digesters, and more. Next up is Williamson Cattle Company, a 5th generation cattle and citrus operation established in the 1940’s. In 2004 WCC became the first Ranch east of the Mississippi River to receive the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award. For lunch, we will visit Florida’s oldest Livestock Market and try out the best burger in town. Save room for dessert, because the next stop is Milking R Dairy, serving up some of the most unique ice cream flavors around. Milking R is known for their automated calf raising facility, a thriving agritourism business, and exciting ice cream flavors – Banana Pudding, Big Deborah, and Love Child, just to name a few. Saddle up for the last stop at Buck Daniel Ranch, an active cow calf operation with a flourishing horse and rodeo training operation and arena. Need cash for ice cream.
3 – Gators, Grass, and Caladiums – David Austin and Ray Bodrey
The Caladium Capitol of the World, Lake Placid Florida, holds nearly one thousand acres of this unique and colorful tropical foliage plant. The University of Florida’s breeders help develop new colorful varieties for the farmers in Lake Placid. Nearly 90 percent of the worlds Caladiums are grown there. We’ll visit Happiness Farms, one of the world’s largest caladium producers. A third-generation family farm where you’ll tour their packing facility. We then head for Windy Point on the shores of Florida’s Fifth largest Lake, Istokpoga. There we’ll stop for a Barbeque lunch with all the fixings served by the Highlands County Master Gardeners. Next, we visit Duda Sod. The Duda Family is a sixth-generation family-owned farming operation that started in south Florida. They now produce vegetables and/or citrus in five states and 7 countries. Duda’s Turf division in Lake Placid grows Florida’s Native Grass, St. Augustine “Floratam”. They also grow “Empire” Zoysiagrass. We then head to Parker Island Gator Farm. A second-generation alligator farm where they raise alligators for meat and hides. You’ll get a close look at the large breeder alligators while you get a closer look at the young the offspring. The Parker Island Gator farm is always a favorite stop on our tours. Closed toed shoes and sun protection recommended.
4 – Sweetest Tour in South Florida – Lindsey Wiggins, Craig Frey, and Gene McAvoy
South Florida is home to a variety of agriculture; including cattle, sugarcane, citrus, and every crop from A-Z (Arugula to Zucchini) – it is all growing on the edge of the Florida Everglades. You will experience the research conducted on the rich muck soils at the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center, one of the largest cow-calf operations in the nation, a sweet stop at the United States Sugar Company’s mill, and a thrilling AIRBOAT ride through the Everglades! Along the route we will travel through the Big Cypress National Preserve and through the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. If you want to see real, un-touched Florida and experience ranching in Glades amongst the panthers, gators, and water (oh my) – then this is the tour for you.
5 – South Florida Water Management – Lisa Krimsky and Sheri McKorkle
Initially the purpose of the South Florida Water Management District was to provide flood control of the submerged southern tip of Florida to provide agricultural land and opportunities for homes to be built. As the oldest and largest of Florida’s five water management districts, managing water resources in a 16-county region that stretches from Orlando to the Florida Keys, serving a population of 9 million. The district now works to continue water control, improve water quality, protect coastal estuaries, manage the water supply, as well as restore damaged ecosystems such as the Everglades and Kissimmee River. Take part in a tour of the headquarters of the district and visit some of the newest water control structures and reservoirs.
6 – Beautiful Tropical Ornamentals – Vanessa Campoverde and Anita Neal
Let’s start visiting University of Florida researchers working to obtain best local tropical crops such as Vanilla and/or calabaza for production in southern Florida. Followed by a 4th-generation family-owned bromeliad nursery with the largest selection of small and large Neoregelia’s in the market and species and hybrids produced and grown in house. During lunch, we will have the opportunity to share a meal with friends of UF/IFAS Extension located in the heart of agricultural area. In the afternoon, for those orchid lovers, we have a lush, tropical nursery specializing in flowering orchids, including exotics & rare hybrids. And we will finish visiting a 37-acre botanical garden & park containing over 500 varieties of fruit, vegetables, spices & herbs.
7 – Liquid Vices in the Land of Sunshine – Carol Roberts
Join us for this informative and fun tour exploring St. Lucie County’s finest beverages – including the adult variety. We will begin in the morning with a walking tour of a local juice plant, Natalie’s – making your second favorite breakfast drink that pairs so well with vodka (not included). Natalie’s Juice is known for their philanthropic work to donate juice for various non-profit events. Next, we visit a commercial kitchen focused on the cottage food and taste the variety of products made by one of their members. Enjoy mead made with local honey, sour ciders and cold brew coffee then stay for a lunch prepared by other kitchen members. . From there, it is a short ride to St. Lucie County’s only winery where we will tempt our palate with the different varieties of tasty wines they offer. A special feature about this winery is the opportunity they give local non-profits to “sponsor” the weekend to obtain free advertisement and any revenue in the form of donations from the public when they visit the winery. Relax, enjoy, and learn while you taste what Florida beverages have to offer – and leave the driving to us! $15-20/lunch from sunshine kitchen. Learn more about the Kitchen in this video:
8 – Indian River Lagoon Tide to Table Tour – Vincent Encomio
The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is considered the most bio-diverse estuary in North America. Reflective of this biodiversity, Florida’s aquaculture industry produces the greatest variety of aquatic species of any state. The rich waters of the IRL supports a burgeoning aquaculture industry producing clams, oysters and fish. Traditional and modern aquaculture technology ensures that these products are not only delicious and safe, but also sustainable, providing additional benefits of improved water filtration, nitrogen removal, and carbon sequestration. We will visit oyster and fish farms and learn how these animals are raised and sample the delicious bounty from these waters. We’ll start the day by taking a cruise on the Indian River Lagoon aboard the River King tour boat for an on-water visit of a shellfish lease site and meet one of the local oyster farmers there. On the way look for dolphins and other wildlife! Lunch will be at the Captain Hiram’s Resort which will include oysters, clams and fish farmed locally in the IRL. On the way back to the conference will tour the Center for Marine and Warm Water Aquaculture at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute where they are developing recirculating aquaculture systems to sustainably raise fish, shellfish and marine plants. Join us in this unique “Tide to Table” experience!
9 – Traditional Florida Ranches – JK Yarborough and Joe Walter
Ranching is a family tradition in south Florida. Come visit two family-owned operations in St. Lucie County. At Adams Ranch they are known for raising quality cattle grown naturally in open pastures using only natural cattle breeding, calving, weaning and growing practices. The Adams Family is credited with creating the Braford breed, a mix of Herford and Brahman breeds to increase growth potential and meat quality with heat tolerance. They have also taken to producing beef for local grocery chains while emphasizing that no antibiotics or hormones are used. Participants will head out into the wilds of Adams Ranch in an open-air vehicle to look for cattle, deer, birds, and other wildlife. Cow-calf Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be noted throughout the trip. Wildlife and conservation practices are abundant in the pastures and hammocks throughout the property. Practices that emphasize the conservation of water in South Florida will be seen as you go. The next ranch we will visit is Wynne Ranch, the largest registered Brangus breeder in the country. Located on over 8,000 acres in the heart of cow country in south Florida. Cow-calf BMPs play a vital role in their operation. Come see how cow production and resource conservation is done, deep in south Florida.
10 – Florida Turfgrass – Bryan Unruh, Marco Schiavon, and Kevin Kenworthy
In 2019, Florida’s turfgrass related industries had a total of $13.63 billion in turfgrass related output (or revenue) contributions and provided 139,863 full- and part-time jobs. Florida’s turf managers are national leaders and early adopters of Best Management Practices as evidenced by having the only Golf Course BMP Certification Program in the US, the most comprehensive Green Industries BMP program, and the only state with comprehensive sod production BMPs. Tour attendees will visit a coastal golf course, a major league football stadium, and a prominent sod production farm where turf managers will share about the challenges of managing turf in high profile, environmentally sensitive sites. Additionally, attendees will visit the Turf Research Plots at the University of Florida, IFAS, Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center and hear from Turfgrass Scientists focused on improving turf industry best management practices.
11 – Rotational Crops of the Everglades Agricultural Area – Matt Vanweelden
Join us on a tour of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), one of the United States’ most productive farming regions. This tour will highlight crops that are rotated with sugarcane, the primary crop of the EAA. First, we will visit rice fields and learn how rice is produced in Florida, and how growers utilize BMPS to improve soil conditions and mitigate pests in subsequent crops. Then we will visit the Sem-Chi rice mill to learn about post-harvest operations. Next, we will visit the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Educations Center for lunch, followed by a tour of the facility to learn how university faculty are improving rotational crop production in South Florida. Finally, we will stop by the TKM-Bengard vegetable packing house to learn how leafy green vegetables are grown and packaged, as well as the health and food safety protocols required when handling these crops. Continual philanthropic work in Palm Beach leadership in numerous organizations within community, employee housing, co-generation plant at the Okeelanta Sugar mill: yard waste from palm beach county and electricity to return to the grid, mill is powered by burning sugarcane bagass sugarcane stalk fiber to power mill and office complex. Organic: rice and sugarcane and rice (8,000 acres).
12 – The Sweetest Place on Earth: A Tour of Florida’s Sugarcane Industry – Ron Rice, Frank Dowdle, and Jessica Clasby
Welcome to the Everglades Agricultural Area, home to over 400,000 acres of sugarcane! This tour will highlight sugar production in Florida, from cultivation of sugarcane to the milling and packing processes. First, we will visit a sugarcane field owned and operated by Florida Crystals, one of the largest sugarcane growers in the state, to learn how sugarcane is grown and harvested. Next, we will visit Tellus Products to learn how sugarcane byproducts are being used to produce recyclable products, including plates and bowls. This portion of the tour will highlight other environmental benefits of sugarcane. Next, we will visit the UF/IFAS Everglades Research and Education Center for lunch and learn how UF faculty are improving sugarcane production across the United States. The final portion of the tour will be to visit the Florida Crystals Okeelanta Sugar Mill and Packaging Facility. The mill houses a co-generation system that recycles yard waste from Palm Beach County and returns the electricity by-product back to the electricity grid as well as utilizing the sugarcane bagass (sugarcane stalk fiber) to power the mill and the office complex. Here we will learn how sugarcane is processed to produce various types of sugar products, and how these products are packaged for consumers across the country. Ride along in the EAA, the sweetest farming area in the world!
13 – Birds and Botanicals – Lorna Bravo
The Patch (People’s Access to Community Horticulture TM) is a unique community garden located in the heart of Dania Beach built by the Dania beach Redevelopment Agency (DBCRA) with efforts in enhancing the health and nutrition of the residents and providing green spaces for locally grown food in urban residential/mixed use districts. Through its work, The Patch has fostered meaningful relationships between the residents and gardeners, educators, students, and researchers on Market and Community Gardens and provides residents with opportunities to cultivate friendships, strengthen their neighborhoods, improve health, and enjoy recreational and therapeutic activities. Then enjoy a visit to Flamingo Gardens, a botanical wildlife sanctuary with over 3,000 species of rare and exotic, tropical, subtropical, and native plants, and trees. Established in 1927, the gardens are home to one of the oldest botanical gardens on south Florida. It is home to over 90 species of Florida native birds and animals. Come see our signature south Florida bird, the Flamingo!
14 – Exotic Plants and Tropical Fruit Tour – Emily Marois and Daniel Gonzalez
Join us on a tour for a sampling of South Florida’s tropical plant nurseries, edible tropical fruits groves, and cultivated gardens. Our journey will begin with a visit to Excelsa Gardens, a tropical plant nursery that specializes in high-quality rare and exotic plants. Unique heliconias, philodendrons, palms, and ferns are just a few of the plants you will expect to see. Just a stone’s throw away is the 13-acre Tropical Bamboo Nursery and Gardens, which will be our next stop. Their display garden features 200 varieties of clumping and spreading bamboo that they grow and sell. Our next stop at Mounts Botanical Garden will allow you to see the previously mentioned exotic plants and bamboo in a luscious garden setting. MBG, which began around 1954, was named in honor of Marvin U. “Red” Mounts, an Extension Agent in Palm Beach County. He established and cared for the Garden’s fruit tree collection to help produce new food resources that could help families overcome vitamin deficiencies. Next up we will head over the shores of Lake Okeechobee where we will be taken on a tour of Erickson Farm. This 4-generation family operation grows gourmet mangos, avocados, starfruit, and other tropical delicacies.
15 – Seas and Gardens – Yvette Goodiel and Natalie Parkell
Join us as we travel across Martin County. We will start our day with a visit to the Florida Oceanographic Center, a 57-acre marine life nature center situated on a barrier island between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. The Center features a 750,000-gallon Game Fish Lagoon, Sea Turtle Pavilion, Sea Star Touch Tank Pavilion, Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion, as well as nature trails through coastal hammocks and mangrove swamps. After a short welcome to the Center, tour participants will be able to choose their own self-guided tour of the pavilions, lagoon, and trails. Next, we will stop for lunch at the Colab Farm restaurant, located in downtown Stuart. Stuart claimed the 2020 “Great Places in Florida” award hosted by the state’s chapter of the American Planning Association, was named “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” by Coastal Living in 2016 and was a finalist in Smithsonian Magazine’s 2015 “Best Small Towns to Visit”. Colab Farms operates protected agriculture hydroponic production farms at two locations in Martin County, both of which contribute produce to the downtown Stuart restaurant and shop. If you want to take a walk around the block at lunch, visit Castronovo’s Chocolate Factory and shop for a sweet treat! Castronovo’s features award-winning chocolates, like their new White Chocolate Lemon & Lemon Salt bar, which won World Gold at the International Chocolate Awards. After lunch, we travel inland to the Village of Indiantown, where a community garden has been thriving at the Boys & Girls Club. The garden features fruit trees and 60 vegetable plots maintained by community members and Boys & Girls Club participants. Master Gardener Paula Smith will show us around the garden and offer tour participants the chance to sample some unique tropical fruits and vegetables being grown.
16 – Wanna Gamble? – Susan Haddock and Lynn Barber
Experience South Florida’s elite gaming atmosphere with a selection of over 3,100 of the most popular slots, nearly 200 table games, and a 45-table poker room. The High Limit Slots room offers an array of favorite titles and the newest Slots in the industry. The floor layout and contemporary design create a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere where guests enjoy hours of play in a private setting. Slot denominations range from one cent to $5 on the general gaming floor, while the High Limit Slots room offers $1 to $1,000 bets. A Non-Smoking Slots area is conveniently located near the Winners Way Garage. Inside, guests will find an impressive selection of the most popular slot titles in a variety of denominations. Guests can also enjoy a Non-Smoking High Limit Slots area.
17 – Wetlands and Botanical Gardens – Jessica Sullivan and Rochelle Wolberg
Feeling like a nature walk? Bring your comfy shoes and come visit three natural areas in Palm Beach County. Let’s start with the Wakodahatchee Wetlands, opened since 1996, are in Delray Beach at 13026 Jog Road. Constructed on 50 acres of previous wastewater utility property. Wakodahatchee features a three-quarter mile boardwalk that crosses between open water pond areas and islands with shrubs and snags to foster nesting and roosting. The visit the Palm Beach County Extension Mounts Botanical Gardens. With a mission to “inspire and educate through nature” and a history spanning more than 40 years, Mounts Botanical is Palm Beach County’s oldest and largest botanical garden. Visitors to this 16-acre tropical oasis will see an acclaimed collection of 25 display gardens containing more than 6,000 species of tropical and sub-tropical plants, including Florida native plants, exotic and tropical fruit trees, ornamentals, herbs, palms, roses, cactus, succulents, bromeliads and much more. Then visit Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands. This is 100 acres of constructed wetland and provides educational opportunities about this unique habitat. The wetland features 1.5 miles of elevated boardwalk featuring interpretive signs about the habitat. Green Cay Nature Center includes a lecture hall, gift shop, and live animals in an extensive exhibit room that highlights wetland attributes. Come for a visit and find that there’s something for everyone at this fantastic facility!
18 – Manatees and Beaches – Noelle Guay
Enjoy a tour planned around all things beachy! We will visit Manatee Lagoon which is dedicated to educating the public about manatees and the Lake Worth Lagoon. You might even catch a glimpse of our Floridian Sea Cows! After your tour enjoy a packed lunch and some quality time in the sunshine at Phil Foster Park . Please pack beach appropriate clothing or snorkel gear if you have it. We will head back to the hotel with plenty of time to freshen up before dinner.
19 – Private Garden Tour – Lisa Sanderson and Carrie Muldoon
Come on a private tour of some of the Palm Beaches most special gardens. First will be Pan’s Garden, a half-acre garden designed by landscape architects consisting exclusively of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers, many of which are endangered. These are incorporated into upland and wetland areas designed to display their naturally occurring relationships to one another. Then travel to Kit’s Garden, an award wining private Palm Beach estate garden. Kit Pannill has been crafting the landscape of her Lake House, located on the historic Lake Trail, for the past thirty-three years. From what was once an ordinary landscape with two Ficus trees and two Mango trees, Kit has created an elegant plant-lovers paradise complete with interesting plants and intriguing secret spaces. Then enjoy a waterfront lunch at ER Bradleys Saloon. After lunch we will visit Unbelievable Acres Botanic Gardens. The garden has a large collection of tropical foliage and flowering plants that are usually considered greenhouse plants because of their cold tenderness. In the tropical fruit section see over 160 varieties of tropical fruits including 17 different starfruits. This tour will end midafternoon allowing for time to return to the hotel to freshen up before dinner.
20 – Pierce Hidden Gems – Nickie Munroe and Tanya Baniff
Explore the hidden beauty and diversity of the Ft. Pierce area. Visit the St. Lucie County Aquarium (Smithsonian Marine Station) and see the underwater worlds of the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean, visit the touch tank and other interactive exhibits, and displays. Then enjoy lunch on your own in downtown Ft. Pierce. We will round out the trip with a visit to the Navy SEAL Museum. It is the only museum dedicated to preserving the history of the US Navy SEALs and their predecessors. Built on the training grounds of the original navy combat divers, the Frogmen. The facility allows you to explore the history of the SEALs with interactive exhibits of unusual artifacts and exhibits of any museum.
21 – Airboat Tour – Lourdes Cordero and Luis Rosado
Climb aboard for an Everglades airboat ride and go on an adventure in the Florida Everglades. During your Everglades airboat tour, listen to fun facts about this impressive ecosystem while you take in the exciting sights. You may even catch a glimpse of the wildlife as you skim across the glassy water on your adventure. Keep your eyes peeled as you cruise through the unbridled wild beauty of the Florida Everglades. Feel free to let your spirit soar as you view nature at its finest.
22 – SARE – Laura Miller, Yvette Goodiel
Participation in the Reading the Farm Tour requires participation in the Reading the Farm Super Seminar. The super seminar will provide the program overview, a profile of the farm, and time to prepare for our visit. On the tour day, we will visit the 40 A vegetable farm, meet the farmers, enjoy a farm-to-table lunch, and then travel to the Elisabeth Lahti Library in Indiantown to summarize our observations before meeting with the farmers to share our ideas.
Kai Kai’s farmers, husband and wife, Carl Frost and Diane Cordeau, have diversified vegetable and herb production, including some production in greenhouses and under shade houses. They sell their products through a mix of channels, including an on-site farm market, CSA subscriptions, and direct sales to restaurants. They have also diversified into agritourism, offering farm-to-table meals at their on-site restaurant, concerts, cooking classes, weddings, a farm market, farm tours, and more. Reading the Farm is a useful way to look at all agricultural production systems and the process benefits from participants with a wide range of backgrounds. Knowledge of subtropical vegetable production is not required. A willingness to learn and share some of the things you know is. $TBD per person
The Super Seminar and tour will be led by the 2017 cohort of SARE Fellows, Anthony Bly, South Dakota State, Kurt Jones, Colorado State, Naveen Kumar, University of Maryland, and Amanda Sears, University of Kentucky and by local University of Florida Extension Agent Yvette Goodiel.