Florida Ag Leaders Aim to Enhance Sustainability; Protect Gulf Coast Bays, Estuaries

December 8, 2021

The Florida Climate Smart Agriculture work group (FLCSA), sponsored and supported by Solutions from the Land (SfL) and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), today announced the launch of the Healthy Farms-Healthy Bays (HF-HB) initiative.

Through this new initiative, the FLCSA will collaborate with aligned partners in connecting upland farmers and ranchers with downstream aquatic ecosystem stakeholders in a joint effort to: enhance sustainability of agricultural operations; and improve water quality, fisheries and habitat in key Gulf Coast bays and estuaries.

Beginning in the Suwannee River watershed, the FLCSA will help farmers experiment with solution pathways and tactics that reduce external inputs, close nutrient loops, regenerate soils and concurrently produce agricultural and food products, protect and renew ecosystems and provide multiple services and benefits to the farm enterprise and to society.

The goal is to build on existing restoration plans and projects, using best available science and leading technical advisors, to achieve a new future – a future in which healthy and productive bays, rivers and streams across the peninsula are underpinned and supported by a vibrant and sustainable agricultural economy.

“The HF-HB project aims to utilize the assets available to enhance the sustainability of agricultural operations and improve water quality, fisheries and habitat in key Gulf Coast bays and estuaries,” said FLCSA leaders Randall Dasher and Ed Chiles. Dasher is a peanut and seed crop producer from McAlpin, FL; and Chiles is the owner of Gamble Creek Organics and a founding member of the Gulf Shellfish Institute.

FLCSA is a multi-stakeholder effort led by farmers in partnership with conservation, environmental, business, health, academic and government partners and leaders,

An inaugural meeting of the HF-HB leadership team is set for Jan. 6 in Cedar Key at the University of Florida’s Nature Coast Biological  Station.

For more information, contact Dasher at 386-590-1550, or at rdasher@dasherfarm.com;

or Chiles at 941-713-5361, or at echiles@chilesgroup.com.

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