Last month I was able to take a trip to the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) Professional Development Conference, and luckily enough it was in Orlando, Florida! I headed south with 7 fellow Purdue ACT’ers and our great advisor! It was nice to soak up the sun before returning back to the snow and ice in Indiana and have a little fun before school was back in session.
While in Florida I had the opportunity to learn more about Florida’s agriculture which was such a great experience, especially because living in Indiana the only agriculture I really see is corn and soybeans! The first day of the conference we went on an Ag tour. The first stop was at Fancy Farms, which is a strawberry farm. This stop was especially one of my favorites because not only was the farmer full of jokes but we were able to pick strawberries right out of the field and eat them! They were the best strawberries I have ever had in my life! While eating as many strawberries as I could I also learned that strawberries have around 200 seeds and all of them are on the outside which is the only fruit made like that.
Our next stop was at a landscaping nursery, this was interesting to see because I really never thought of this as agriculture. We walked through a lot of greenhouses that were filled with different types of flowers, trees, bushes, and plants that I had never seen before. This stop was great to take pictures of the beautiful flowers that people can decorate the outside of their homes with.
Stop number 3 was a visit to the Keel and Curley Winery, which is known for their blueberry wine! We were able to see the blueberries being grown and then take a tour of their brewery, where they are now even brewing specialty beer at this same location. It was really awesome to see the process of how the blueberry was grown to see it being used to then being able to walk into the store and see people purchasing their products, right there all in one spot. Something cool I thought they were making was canned wine, each can was the same amount as one glass of wine.
Our final destination was at the groves of Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. We were able to see the groves that they pick the oranges from that they use in their orange juice. The group was also informed about the history of Florida’s Natural Orange Juice and learned about the difficulties that orange farmers face. My favorite part was sampling the new products that they are coming up with, which I must say were very delicious.
While in Florida, I learned a lot and it made me think more about where our food does come from. I never really thought about where my orange juice was coming from that I drink each morning or the difficulties that an orange farmer has to face to get an orange out of the groves to get into a carton of orange juice. I think that there are many agriculture food and non food products that many don’t think about where they come from. Think you know where your food is coming from? Take this quiz that the Washington Post has put out that quizzes you to see if you know where your food is coming from in the United States. Here is one hint… if it asks you about alligators, oranges, or strawberries…. choose Florida!