Longtime leaders in the sugar cane industry, this family has made restoration of the Everglades a top priority.
All landowners, large and small, share a fundamental desire to protect and enhance their property. Florida’s Fanjul family, which owns 155,000 acres in Palm Beach County, is no exception. Through their Florida Crystals Corporation and its predecessors, the Fanjuls have been farming sugar cane and rotation crops since 1960, shortly after the family fled Castro-controlled Cuba. More recently, Florida Crystals has invested millions of dollars implementing high-tech Best Management Practices (BMPs) to ensure the health of the land and waters in and around its South Florida holdings.
These sustainable practices not only benefit the company’s bottom line; they also are critical to bettering habitat between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. This region, which is known as the Everglades Agricultural Area, is where Florida Crystals operates, and it sits at the heart of the enormous yet fragile Everglades ecosystem, whose waters bring life to millions in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties.
“In Florida, we have a tremendous amount of land in public ownership that can be used for restoration projects,” said Alfonso Fanjul, Florida Crystals’ Chairman and CEO (above right).
“Meanwhile, private farmlands can continue to operate, offering a boost to the state as a top economic engine and providing safe, reliable food for our country. It’s a logical situation,” he says.
Florida is the nation’s top producer of citrus. The Everglades is the country’s leading producer of sugar cane and sweet corn. All told, the state’s agricultural industry supports 1.4 million jobs and generates $100 billion annual economic impact.
“Our family members have been land stewards and farmers in Florida for more than 50 years,” said J. Pepe Fanjul, Florida Crystals’ Vice Chairman, COO, and President (above left). “We are proud of the positive results our company has helped produce for the Everglades. This past year, we released water to the Everglades that was more than 70 percent cleaner than when we received it. Not many industries can claim such important results. It’s all possible because our team is comprised of highly-qualified experts in land management.”
The family’s efforts don’t end in the fields. To help build sustainable communities and improve the lives of countless children, the Fanjuls founded New Hope Charities and two charter schools in close proximity its farms and mills.