This year, Florida celebrates its 500th anniversary.  Florida’s landscape is rich with agricultural crops, so this is an anniversary for agriculture in Florida too.  In April 500 years ago, Spanish explorers landed in Florida.  As they established settlements throughout the land, they introduced crops that are still popular today.  Today, we produce more than 300 agriculture commodities in Florida.  Agriculture production of Florida’s early settlers was just enough to feed themselves, but these small beginnings have grown to a $100 billion economic impact today.

Adam Putnam, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has as partnered with universities and colleges throughout Florida to host a year-long series of panel discussions recognizing the important role agriculture has played in Florida’s 500-year history. The program includes a traveling exhibit, featuring a “then” and “now” look at Florida agriculture will make its way throughout the state during 2013.  There are interesting milestones featured in the project and below we share those from the past 100 years.

  • In 1902, tomatoes became Dade County’s first multimillion dollar industry.
  • In 1935, Florida’s first farmers market opened in Sanford.  It’s hard to imagine life without farmers markets.  They have helped change the way people eat and added tremendous value to local communities.
  • In 1990, the Florida legislature authorized the creation of the Florida Agriculture Promotional Campaign to help Florida producers market their agriculture products.
  • In 2012, school nutrition programs gained focus which increases access to fresh fruits and vegetables for Florida’s school children.

Join in the celebration through one of the many planned activities scheduled throughout Florida.