Sugarcane crop season celebration

BELLE GLADE — Florida Crystals Corp.and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida hosted a Pre-Harvest Celebration on Sept. 30 at Torry Island in Belle Glade, where employees, farmers, families and members of the Glades communities of western Palm Beach County came together to celebrate the upcoming sugarcane crop season and to pray for a safe, prosperous and abundant harvest.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy photo
Left to right are Andres Fanjul, Sabrina Yarns, Hercules Yarns, John L. Hundley, Gloria Yarns, Belle Glade Vice Mayor Mary Ross Wilkerson, Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig, Bishop Kenny Berry, Pahokee Commissioner Benny Everett, Pahokee Mayor Keith Babb Jr., Pastor Robert Rease, Mayor Joe Kyles and Pepe Fanjul Jr.

“We were delighted to see our employees, fellow farmers and industry members as well as our friends in the Glades communities have such a wonderful time on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on the shores of Lake Okeechobee,” said Pepe Fanjul Jr., executive vice president of Florida Crystals. “Like any agricultural harvest, the sugarcane crop season is long and requires a great deal of dedication from our employees and their families, so this was an opportunity to show them our tremendous appreciation and host an event where we could all come together for a day of enjoyment with friends and family before the hard work begins.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy photo
Florida Crystals’ employee honoree William Bland, are at the Pre-Harvest Celebration with his family and Florida Crystals Senior Vice President Andres Fanjul on William’s right and Florida Crystals Executive Vice President Pepe Fanjul, Jr. on his left.

Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida Chairman of the Board John L. Hundley added: “We were pleased to be part of the 2018 pre-harvest celebration. It’s great when we can showcase the dedication and hard work of our employees and grower-members in partnership with the Glades communities and its leaders and provide a token of our appreciation by hosting a fun, family-oriented event in the Glades. We would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success and demonstrated the true community spirit that makes the Glades such a special place to conduct and grow our agricultural businesses.”

More than 1,000 guests enjoyed BBQ, music and entertainment, including bounce houses, face painting and a performance from the Pahokee Middle/High School Drum Line. During the blessing, Pastor Robert Rease of Belle Glade’s St. John First Missionary Baptist Church led a heartfelt prayer for a safe and prosperous harvest season.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy photo
John L. Hundley (left) honored Hercules Yarns, of Belle Glade, for 44 years of service, noting his positive spirit and enthusiasm as he shows up each day with a smile

Following the blessing, Bishop Kenny Berry of Grace Fellowship Worship Center of Belle Glade emceed a program where the companies expressed their gratitude to all in attendance and showed their deep appreciation to two longtime employees.

Andres Fanjul, Florida Crystals’ senior vice president, honored William Bland of Belle Glade for his 33 years of service and leadership as a true representative of the company’s values. Mr. Hundley honored Hercules Yarns of Belle Glade for 44 years of service, noting his positive spirit and enthusiasm as he shows up each day with a smile.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy photo
Entertainment for the Pre-Harvest Celebration was provided by the Pahokee Middle-High Student Drum Line.

The sugarcane harvest season occurs from October to May, when 17 million tons of sugarcane will be delivered to four area sugar mills. The sugarcane farming and processing industry in South Florida supports more than 23,000 jobs in the state, has an economic impact of $3 billion and helps make Palm Beach County the most valuable agricultural county in the state of Florida as well as east of the Mississippi River.

Sugarcane farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), south of Lake Okeechobee, are also proud partners with the State of Florida in Everglades restoration. EAA farmers’ on-farm Best Management Practices (BMPs) resulted in a 66 percent phosphorus reduction, more than two times better than the state’s goal, last year as they supplied clean water south to the Everglades.

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