by Morgan Jenkins | January 15, 2018

Flamingle: All Naturals

Agricultural roots run deep for these natural-born leaders who found purpose in the fertile Florida soil.


Illustration by Stephen Lomazzo

Dr. Charles F. Hinton
Strawberry Whisperer

Charles “Chip” Hinton knows strawberries, so much so that he is credited with increasing statewide sales of the juicy, red fruit by 500 percent in the late 1980s. He saw an opportunity to expand the strawberry market by breeding new varieties, each with its own nuanced taste. It was this innovation, as well as his program to distribute surplus produce to the hungry, that earned him induction into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2016. Hinton has served as chair of Hillsborough’s Agricultural Economic Development Council, Extension Overall Advisory Committee, and County Farm Bureau.

Rachel Smith
Citrus Sweetheart

The Miss Florida Citrus Pageant (originally the Florida Citrus Queen Pageant) began crowning a woman each year to represent the Florida citrus industry in 1924. Since then, the Winter Haven–based pageant has evolved and is now a qualifying round for the Miss America Pageant. This past March, the crown went to Paige Todd, but this summer Todd stepped down from her position to study for her LSAT. She turned the scepter over to Rachel Smith, a University of Florida graduate who will spend the next few months representing Florida’s famous fruit at trade shows and agriculture events around the nation.

Adam Putnam
Top Carrot

For Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, farming is in the blood. The politician, recognizable by his boyish looks and red hair, was born into one of Bartow’s most established cattle-ranching and citrus-producing families. Now in his second term as commissioner, he gained national attention for work on issues spanning from water conservation to access to fresh produce for all Floridians. Putnam also served as congressman for Florida’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2018, he’ll run for the
governor’s seat.

Alfonso Fanjul Jr.
Sugar Baron

After fleeing Castro-controlled Cuba in the mid-20th century, the wealthy Fanjul family relocated to South Florida, where Alfonso Fanjul Sr. worked to re-establish their vast sugarcane dynasty stateside. Now, with subsidiaries including Domino Sugar and Florida Crystals, Fanjul Corp. dominates the nation’s refined sugar industry, producing a sweet seven million tons annually. A lightning rod for environmentalists opposed to the impacts of “Big Shug,” Alfonso “Alfy” Fanjul Jr. now runs the $8.2 billion empire, with more than 180,000 acres of farmland dedicated to sugarcane, Florida’s third largest agricultural export.

Kim Rivers
Cannabis Crusader

Because of her background in real estate acquisition and law, one might not expect Kim Rivers to be a pioneer of Florida’s medical marijuana industry. But then again, she’s all about defying expectations. As the CEO of Trulieve, the first dispensary in the state, Rivers has made it her mission to destigmatize the medical role of cannabis as a means to treat a variety of conditions, from seizures to chronic pain. With 10 locations across the state, Trulieve works directly with Hackney Nursery in Quincy to cultivate new strains of marijuana to treat a variety of ailments.