Pardon me a moment as I brag a bit about the Farm-City Luncheon last month hosted jointly by One Martin, the Martin County Farm Bureau and the Economic Council of Martin County. It was exceptional, not only due to our highly accomplished speakers and panelists, but due to the members of our audience.
A survey of our guests that day, sitting together for a flavorful farm-to-table lunch at Kai-Kai farm, revealed a cross-section of Martin County residents. More than 120 attended from a variety of professions and walks of life, including a smattering of elected officials – although the election was finally behind us – and, of course, a number of farmers and ranchers, which you'd expect at such an event.
However we also recognized environmentalists, educators, chamber of commerce officials, and a number of highly respected local entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers, as well. Their presence was an essential element in the success of this luncheon.
That observation may be surprising to some, especially considering the unparalleled expertise of our speakers and panelists, but likely not to the members of One Martin. Our mission is to bring together those with diverse ideas, to listen and learn from each other, and to go forward with decisions based on fact for the betterment of all of Martin County.
That's easier said than done, but on Nov. 14, we got one step closer to accomplishing that mission.
Our keynote speaker, Cody Beard, Manager of Precision Agriculture for Florida Crystals, addressed how technology has changed farming, particularly when it comes to conserving water and using fertilizer or pesticides.
It's an important change, yet few outside the agricultural community are aware of it. The heightened awareness of water issues here often places the blame for their degradation solely on the backs of farmers. We saw the reality of today's farming presented by Mr. Beard in a straight-forward, much-needed and highly enlightening presentation for all us, even for those familiar with precision agriculture.
Our panelists included citrus farmer and entrepreneur Ron Edwards, owner of Evans Properties and founder of SoBe drinks and Blue Buffalo, as well as CEO of Aquafiber Technologies in Vero Beach; Reed Hartman, a rancher, real estate auctioneer, former member of the Martin County Local Planning Agency, president of the Martin County Farm Bureau and One Martin board member; and Ted Astolfi, former executive director of the Business Development Board of Martin County and the current executive director of the Martin County Economic Council.
Panel moderator was Mitch Hutchcraft, Vice President of Strategic Planning for King Ranch and Consolidated Citrus, a former member of the South Florida Water Management District's Governing Board and One Martin board member.
More details are in this TCPalm story about the event. For a look at all the fun we had, click here to see the Luncheon Photos. And the next time you see a One Martin event on the calendar, be sure to attend and share your thoughts and ideas. I feel confident that you'll be glad you did.