MAY 2022

Ag Summit shares importance of crop diversity, innovation to future of agriculture

Agricultural Summit collage, students, Angela Tenbroeck, Stephen Singleton, Brandon Stouffer

More than 100 local ag students, gardeners and agricultural enthusiasts attended Putnam County’s first Agricultural Summit presented by the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension. The Summit was hosted Friday by St. Johns River State College.

The event was created to celebrate and educate the community on the role farming plays in Putnam and Florida’s economy. Coordinated by Wendy Mussoline, UF’s extension agent II, the day focused on the importance of innovation, unity among farmers, and crop diversity – as demonstrated in the event’s presenters. Various presentations included topics from the funding for agribusinesses to technology advancements, as well as a farmer’s “lightning round,” where established farmers within the community discussed topics ranging from commercial beekeeping, to datil peppers and blueberries.

“I think all the farmers here represent a different piece of agriculture,” Mussoline said. “And when they bring it all together, walking together… cooperating together in all of the diversity that agriculture offers, we’ll really have a successful future moving forward.”

Keynote speakers included Angela Tenbroeck, Florida’s 2022 Woman of the Year in Agriculture, and Putnam County’s very own Stephen Singleton of Singleton & Sons Farm, who encouraged the audience of future farmers to be armed with tenacity.

“Agriculture does not look like the day when my grandfather started,” Singleton said. “And it’s going to change drastically, especially in the state of Florida with all the people moving in. I’m excited to see what that looks like.”

When asked what was an essential skill set to have in farming, Singleton shared the importance of being a strong-minded person. “It’s not as much a physically daunting task these days as it is mentally,” he said. “Dad would say he’s tired… He’s not physically tired, he is mentally tired because he’s always thinking. That’s because in order to be a farmer you have to be innovative. You’re faced with challenges the rest of the world may not have the answer to, so you have to come up with the answer yourself. You have be innovative in your thinking, in the way you do things. That could be anything to how you’re going to fertilize to how you’re going to plant this year.”

Tenbroeck is a fourth-generation farmer – as well as a local hydroponic farmer - and a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. She has made many contributions to Florida with her duty toward sustainability, decreasing food insecurity, and improving communities across the state.

Tenbroeck originally studied medicine in college, where she gained a unique insight into farming - learning the importance of nurturing oneself in order to nurture others. “You cannot give to the world if you cannot give to yourself,” she said. “When I was in medicine, I noticed people had two issues – they didn’t get proper nutrition… and the water they were drinking was dirty. . so my whole career I’ve spent trying to change this. So I came back to farming in a different kind of way.”

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is a federal, state, and county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences.

Special thanks to the Ag Summit sponsor, Capital City Bank.

Special thanks to Ag-Pro, Putnam County School District, Worldwide Aquaponics, Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), Florida SBDC Network and The Center for Sustainable Agriculture Excellence and Conservation (CSAEC), and the LunchBox at SJR State.

Putnam County’s first Agricultural Summit was presented by the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension and hosted Friday by St. Johns River State College.

Students from Crescent City Jr.-Sr. High School take a break from the Ag Summit to sample the freshly fried potatoes provided by the University of Florida.

Angela Tenbroeck, Florida’s 2022 Woman of the Year in Agriculture, shares her family’s journey in agriculture and hydroponics.

Stephen Singleton

Brandon Stouffer, a junior at QI Roberts Jr.-Sr. High School, helped to demonstrate how the future of agriculture includes technology and the use of drones as part of a way to conduct research.



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020