LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — J&J Family of Farms Inc., has added acreage to bolster Florida and East Coast vegetable supplies.
Late last fall, the grower-shipper began growing 200 acres of bell peppers, cucumbers and green beans on 600 acres of land west of Stuart through a long-term lease.
The land was formerly owned by the defunct East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc., a Mulberry-based tomato grower-shipper that sold land in 2013 bankruptcy auctions.
An investor purchased the acreage and is leasing the other half to Grafton, N.D.-based potato grower-shipper Campbell Farms, said Brian Rayfield, J&J’s vice president of business development and marketing.
This fall, J&J plans to grow on all of the land, which would nearly double the company’s south Florida production, he said.
Farther north than the company’s Boynton Beach production, the land can produce in the spring.
The area is historically eight degrees warmer than Belle Glade, critical when winter and spring temperatures can dip below freezing, he said.
“Land is tight in Boynton Beach and this land will be a flagship or cornerstone production for us,” Rayfield said. “With our other farms, this land will allow us to expand our crop mix and diversify our production. There’s always been a challenge in production between south Florida and Georgia. By taking the gaps out of our season, this addition will allow us to extend our season in May and provide us more consistent production.”
Because of development, Florida East Coast land fetches premium prices and in the past, two-year leases proved difficult when J&J would need to vacate the property after investing time and resources in the land, Rayfield said.
J&J grows on or handles sales for other growers on more than 4,000 acres in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.