A tub of harvested oranges

ONCE KING, AGRICULTURE MAKING COMEBACK ON TREASURE COAST

Agriculture has been a prime driver for the Treasure Coast economy for most of its modern history. More than a century ago, pineapples were the top crop. Pineapples were eventually replaced by other crops, particularly citrus, which along with cattle ranching continued to dominate the economic landscape until air conditioning and interstate highways helped boost tourism and industries tied to exponential population growth, including home construction.

Now, industries tied to healthcare and retail businesses are the biggest employers, each with about 26,000 workers in Indian River and St. Lucie counties, and retail is tops in annual revenue at about $6.83 billion, according to data compiled by FPL. Read more...

Pongamia trees

THE PONGAMIA PROSPECT

Citrus, once the undisputed king of Florida agriculture, was described recently by an official of the state Department of Citrus as “about to fall off the cliff.”

What was once a $9 billion industry, Florida’s second-most important after tourism, is in ruins. Ninety percent of the state’s groves have been infected with bacteria. In 2004 there were 7,000 groves in Florida. Today, 5,000 of those operations have disappeared, the land fallow and abandoned.

They are sometimes referred to as “ghost groves.” Read more...

Raw water lentils

FARM FOCUSES ON ALTERNATIVE-PROTEIN PLANT

In the open farmland rolling west of the town of Fellsmere, Parabel USA, Inc. is waging a food revolution. There, on an aqua farm, the company grows a potential solution to a zero-footprint food source. Water lentils are sprouting and growing in acres of fertile, large-scale hydroponic ponds.

Through developed and patented technology research, scientists at Parabel have discovered properties inherent in the water lentil that have turned it into a desirable ingredient for a food market craving alternative protein sources. Read more...