By: Jordan Pinkston, Treasure Coast Newspapers
PALM CITY – Precision agriculture was the intriguing keynote topic at the 2018 Martin County Farm City Luncheon at Kai-Kai Farms in Indiantown in November.
Presented by One Martin, a non-profit organization devoted to cultivating an informed citizenry and building a prosperous community, in conjunction with the Economic Council of Martin County and the Martin County Farm Bureau, the second annual Farm City event celebrated the essential role agriculture plays in the economic health of the region, its environmental impact, and its promise for the future.
Cody Beard, agricultural systems manager for the Florida Crystals Corp., was the featured speaker.
“Technology has changed how we do agriculture,” he said, “and we can see that right here in Martin County. Farming today is done by a team that includes not only farmers but also engineers, technicians and data analysts.”
Moderating a lively panel discussion, One Martin board member Mitch Hutchcraft, vice president of real estate for King Ranch and Consolidated Citrus, posed questions about how communities must change to accommodate and maximize the benefits of new techniques of agriculture.
For panelist Ted Astolfi, CEO of the Economic Council of Martin County, the labor force is the essential concern.
This was echoed by panelist Reed Hartman, a licensed auctioneer and real estate professional, Martin County Farm Bureau board president, and One Martin Board Member.
“We also have to realize that the market is demanding something that current regulations in some instances simply won’t allow," Hartman said. "If we’re going to be innovative in our approach to problems, we have to develop more flexibility.”
Panelist Ron Edwards, president and CEO of Evans Properties, explained some of the innovations taking place on a 300-acre research farm that began in response to citrus greening and the devastation of the citrus industry.
“We’ve been forced to become creative,” he said, “and to identify new crops that will grow well here and use a lighter footprint."
The 120 guests at the Farm City Luncheon feasted on a locally-sourced meal created by Chef Ron Kerr, owner of Southfork Kitchen and Bar, and presented by Carl Frost and Diane Cordeau, owners of Kai-Kai.
Rick Hartman, president of the One Martin Board of Directors and owner of Hartman Real Estate and Old River Cattle Co., reminded guests that agriculture is an integral part of the economic and civic life of the community.
“We don’t often get to see agriculture in action and know what amazing resources are being used in our own backyards to change how we grow food and preserve the environment,” Hartman said…