Monday, June 20, 2011

Ocala Farmer Struggles With Florida Drought

Sylvester Smith, an Ocala farmer, is not sure about the future of his watermelon crop."There's just not enough water with the drought going on," he says.

Smith has a small central Florida farm located on the corner of NW 90th Street and U.S. Highway 301. He grows collard, mustard, and turnip greens, along with beans, squash, peas, onions, watermelon, and other Southern style vegetables.

I met him one, 95 degree plus, day when I stopped to see if he had any Blackeyed peas for sale.

He tells me I am a month late, but he has White Acre peas. He asks if I want a bushel or a half bushel of unshelled or shelled peas. "Oh, half a bushel of shelled will do for me," I say.

He reaches into a cooler at his feet and pulls out a bulging bag of green peas. "I just pulled them from the field. So you want to make sure you let the heat out of them before you chill them otherwise they'll sour," he says, handing me the bag that costs just $11.

He tells me about his 90-something year old mother who tends the front porch of the family house located at the back of the property. "If ever you want anything from the farm and you don't see anybody about, just come up to the house and knock and we'll help you," Smith says, with a warm slow smile. We talk for awhile and then he wishes me well for my trip.

If you have a chance, drop by for a visit. If you don't see him farming then he might be off fishing, his off season activity. But hopefully, you'll see him selling a healthy crop of watermelon, if it rains in the next few weeks.

The farm is located at: 1681 NW 90th Street, Ocala, FL 33475
Or, you can call him at: 352-425-1143.

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