By Gary Cooper
AgNet Media Founder and President
Editor’s note: Read the prologue to this article.
In a tour this week, I accompanied television program host and anchor Max Armstrong of the nationally-syndicated ag news program “This Week in Agribusiness” to help bring his audience up to date on Central Florida agriculture. To show Armstrong a more modern side of Florida agriculture, we toured Agri-Starts, an Apopka company that specializes in plant tissue liners.
The massive facility propagates plant tissue cultures in a lab and grows them as starters for nurseries, retail stores and farms across the country. Owner Randy Strode led us around the facility.
In 1975, Strode came to Florida as a frustrated schoolteacher trying to negotiate a contract with the Board of Education. Then, he met Ray Oglesby, an influential contributor to Florida’s agriculture industry in the area of tissue culture. Oglesby was in the midst of creating his first tissue culture business. However, he needed someone who understood the metrics system, which happened to be Strode. Thus, Agri-Starts was born.
Agri-Starts produces starter plants for the agriculture community, including edibles, natives and ornamentals. The company started growing edibles within the past 15 years. Strode said the most popular edibles are blueberries, hops and a new variety of thornless blackberries created by the University of Arkansas. He currently has 30 varieties of blueberries, 15 varieties of blackberries, approximately 12 varieties of bananas and lots of kiwis.
Strode also discussed his trip to Europe to view technological advances and shared some frustrations regarding government regulations.
Listen to the full interview:
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