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2017 Hillsborough County Fair Harvest Awards Announced

Release date: 9/25/2017

The Hillsborough County Fair will award three individuals, a garden ministry, and a farm family with this year’s Harvest Awards. The 17th annual event will be held during a luncheon on Thursday, October 19th in the new air conditioned Exhibit Pavilion. The luncheon will also officially kick off the Hillsborough County Fair which opens later that day at 5:00 p.m. The awards luncheon is complimentary, but advanced reservations are required by contacting the Fair Office at or at  

The Harvest Awards program was established by the Cooperative Extension Service as a way to preserve the agricultural heritage of Hillsborough County and to celebrate those outstanding pioneers in the farming community.

The Charles and Betty Grimes family is the 17th farm family to be honored with the distinction of Farm Family of the Year. The first farm family was the Roy Parke Family of Plant City.  Charles and Betty grew their farm business from a small enterprise to a major operation that includes eight companies growing strawberries, fruits, vegetables, and other row crops on approximately 5,000 acres in eastern Hillsborough County. Their continuing support of the Plant City area is reflected in the Grimes Agricultural Building at the Florida Strawberry Festival, and the Charles and Betty Grimes Critical Care Center at the hospital.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Agriculture goes to Marvin Brown of Plant City. It all began in 1976, when Marvin farmed one acre of strawberries in Lakeland. With a burning passion to farm, the strawberries were sold at a roadside stand to cover the bills. A year later he sharecropped 26 acres, and the following year incorporated Favorite Farms, leasing 28 acres.

A young Mexican immigrant with a passion to farm and to provide for his family is this year’s Young Farmer/Rancher/Nurseryman of the year. Daniel Gutierrez was born in 1984 in Mexico into a humble family of 6 brothers and 6 sisters. His parents moved the family to Plant City in 1990 to find a better place for the family to live, prosper, and contribute back to the community. After 26 years of working in the fields of others to learn his craft, Daniel is now farmer-owner of Sunripe Growers.  He grows over 10 different crops.

Extension Agent Alicia J. Whidden , a life long educator with a devotion to serve and to help others will be receiving the Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award. Prior to her career with Extension, she was a biologist for the UF/IFAS Strawberry lab in Dover, FL. Miss Whidden is highly praised by her growers and her professional colleagues statewide.

The Mustard Seed Garden Ministry at Tim’s Presbyterian Church in Lutz, FL will be honored with the Public and Community Service Award. The garden started four years ago with four people trying to make a difference in their community with their church’s mission of Reach, Teach, and Serve. They grow produce for the homeless and others needing fresh vegetables in their community.

Deadline for making reservations on line or by email is Monday, October 16th.


Mike McKinney

Harvest Awards Committee