Farm Fresh Florida

Broward, and Florida in general, don’t always conjure up images of farming communities. But if you want the food on your plate to be local, you might be surprised by how many options there are.

It was 2008—the economy crashed, and the earth seemed to open up and swallow everyone’s livelihood. Businesses shuttered and people in lucrative industries found themselves jobless.

The Marandos were among them. After working in construction, the business of growth, for years, Chelsea and Fred Marando were out of work. They were counting pennies, sticking to a strict budget, living without insurance.

“We had very successful careers, to one day kind of finding yourself in the unemployment line. It was very humbling and a little bit scary,” Chelsea Marando says. “What better to do than grow beans and maybe some tomatoes and something to offset?”

She started writing about gardening for pamphlets and community newspapers. She then took a composting class and a master naturalist program, discovering how much she loved learning about farming and working the land. With the construction company closed, the Marandos turned a piece of property into a farming market.

A decade later, the family is the proud owner of Marando Farms & Ranch. While most associate Florida with its tourism and theme parks, theirs is one of more than 47,500 farms in the Sunshine State, together producing billions of dollars worth of agriculture every single year. Half the agricultural land in Florida is used for cattle, and there’s no end to the number of dairy farms.

With so much access to local produce, why don’t Floridians realize our agricultural strength?

Read the rest at Fort Lauderdale magazine.

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