The 2010 Winner: Ann Holt
Ann Holt, a partner in Twin H Farms of Belle Glade, has been selected to receive the “Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award” for 2010. The award, now in its 26th year, recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to Florida agriculture. It is sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida State Fair Authority. The award will be presented on February 10, 2011, during the opening-day luncheon at the Florida State Fair in Tampa.
Ann Holt was born in Lake City in 1947. For more than 40 years, she and her husband, Tommy, have been raising sweet corn, with Ann taking care of the business side of the farm and Tommy managing the growing operation. Today, Ann and Tommy harvest nearly 2,000 acres of sweet corn in Belle Glade. They also grow cotton, peanuts, and sweet corn on 3,000 acres in South Georgia.
Despite the daily demands of running the family business, Ann Holt is active in numerous agricultural associations and non-profit groups. She’s a leader in the agricultural community. Her mission is to educate Florida’s urban residents about the benefits farming brings to the state.
Holt was the first woman ever elected president of the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau. Under her leadership, the Farm Bureau began regularly hosting farm tours for visiting legislators and other government leaders. These tours emphasize growers’ contributions to the local economy and the environment.
In 2007, as president of the Farm Bureau, Holt initiated Palm Beach County’s annual Farm-City Week Luncheon and Farm Tour. Farm-City Week emphasizes the value of the rural-urban partnership and the interdependence of farmers and consumers. The annual luncheon and farm tour are great opportunities for agricultural and business leaders to meet and discover common ground.
Holt is a tireless ambassador for Florida agriculture. For years she has promoted the sweet corn industry at such events as the South Florida Fair and the Produce Marketing Association Annual Meeting. She has spearheaded many events in her community to help “city folks” get to know area farmers and their products.
By far the most popular is the annual Florida Sweet Corn Fiesta, which Holt launched in 2001. A public festival celebrating the spring growing season, the event takes place at the South Florida Fairgrounds and features live music, food, and corn-shucking and -eating contests. Managed and run entirely by volunteers, the festival educates Palm Beach County residents about the quality of the area’s sweet corn. It also raises money for agriculture education and local food banks.
Holt is an outspoken advocate for agriculture and the rural way of life. She has organized and participated in countless meetings and trips to Tallahassee and Washington to present the views of farmers and ranchers to legislators. She was a longtime member of the Ladies of the Lake, an organization created by farmwomen around Lake Okeechobee for the purpose of giving voice to the concerns of area farming families. She was also a charter member of Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE), a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping farmers attain profitability in farming.
Holt is a strong supporter of agriculture education and serves on the South Florida Fair’s Scholarship Committee. She has worked with FFA and 4-H and is an Agriculture Literacy Day volunteer.
During the holidays, Holt helps organize food and toy drives to benefit the underserved farming communities around Lake Okeechobee. She is the driving force behind the annual Hungry for Golf Tournament, which benefits the area’s food banks. In addition, she organized the West Palm Beach County Farm Bureau to help raise funds for the new state-of-the-art hospital that opened in Belle Glade in 2009.
In recognition of her years of service, Holt has received many awards and honors. In 2008 she was named Woman of the Year by the Florida Agri-Women. In 2004 her family was named Farm Family of the Year by the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.
Ann Holt and her husband, Tommy, live in Wellington and continue to farm in the Belle Glade area. They have two grown children, Thomas Holt Jr. and Karina Holt Rothenberg.