The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame plans to honor its latest round of inductees March 7 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla.
Stephen Caruso, a leading fruit processor, Robert Pitman Jr., a pioneering citrus researcher and nurseryman, and Robert Prevatt, a citrus educator, are the inductees.
Formerly of Apopka, Fla., the deceased Pitman is known for his role in lobbying for the establishment of the Florida Agricultural Tax Law, known as the “Greenbelt Law,” which helped saved growers millions of dollars in property taxes.
Pitman also worked with citrus varieties which included developing and patenting the mandarin-type orange known as the ponkan and was a pioneer citrus nurseryman and also served as president of the Florida Citrus Research Foundation.
A forerunner in experimenting with using irrigation as freeze protection, Pitman worked with University of Florida scientists to develop what became an important method of frost protection for the citrus industry, according to a news release.
Prevatt was a professor of horticulture and citrus at Florida Southern College for nearly 30 years.
He was lauded for his passion for teaching that inspired, challenged and motivated hundreds of students to invest their time and efforts in the Florida citrus industry.
Prevatt possessed a hands-on approach to teaching and made sure his students spent time in the field to experience real time situations and his students account for management of more than 60% of the state’s citrus acreage, according to the release.
Caruso entered the industry through his family business, Southern Fruit Distributors, which developed the BlueBird brand. He later became the chief executive officer of Citrus World Inc., the state’s oldest citrus processing company and maker of Florida’s Natural juice brand.
Caruso helped transform the company into one of the top three not-from-concentrate processors and helped form a business relationship with Texas Citrus Exchange, a citrus processing cooperative, according to the release.
Caruso was a past president of Juice Products Association and the Florida Citrus Processors’ Association.
Luncheon tickets are $100 and the event is co-sponsored by the Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual and Bartow-based Florida Department of Citrus.