In 2021, St. Johns County was honored to have David and Cristol Lee of First Farm be recognized as the CARES award recipient. Every year, farmers are recognized for their conservation efforts and being stewards of the land. First Farm is located in Elkton, St. Johns County, FL, and are producers of crops such as napa cabbage.
According to Florida Farm Bureau, the “…CARES program publicly recognizes Florida farmers and ranchers who demonstrate exemplary efforts to protect Florida’s natural resources by implementing Best Management Practices,” and more information can be found on their website. As in years past, this festive event was in collaboration with the Tri-County Area: St Johns, Putnam and Flagler Counties. A fantastic video clip showing how these farmers contribute to sustainability can be viewed on the Putnam-St. Johns FB Facebook page. Chiappini Farm of Putnam County, and Disston Ranch of Flagler County were the fellow award winners.
The Lee’s were recognized for their water conservation efforts using drainage tile. They have received cost-share funding from FDACS that has enabled them to save on their irrigation inputs, and decrease pest pressures and the risk of leaching nutrients. Their variable rate spreaders enables them to apply fertilizers at variables rates depending on soil test results that are linked with the GPS tractor technology. While being great environmentalists, they are also especially kindhearted. The Lee’s brought boxes of napa and flat head cabbage to share with the other award recipients, along with the guests of the event. We all learned that flat head cabbage is excellent for rolling recipes! St. Johns County’s Asian vegetable production has been growing tremendously. We have expanded to over 5,000 acres of napa and flat head cabbage, luffas, bok choy, bittermelons and longbeans amongst numerous farms. The introduction of alternate crops in the TCAA has greatly helped farmers to diversify, with the help and vision of people like Mr. and Mrs. Lee.