Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Commissioner's Agricultural Environmental Leadership Award

2010 Winner

3 Boys Farm
Ruskin, Florida

A model of conservation, the 10-acre 3 Boys Farm in Ruskin has integrated alternative energy sources with high- and low-tech systems to produce a hyper-efficient, sustainable 21st century farm.

While collecting rainwater in cisterns isn't a new idea, the way in which the farm uses the water is. Owner Robert Tornello harvests it from the roofs of his greenhouses to use as a base for the hydroponic growing solution and in the greenhouse cooling systems. Using rainwater reduces his annual draw from the aquifer by over 10 million gallons.

The hydroponic growing technique and greenhouse climate control system allows 3 Boys Farm to organically grow any vegetable or herb year round, a rare feat for a Florida farm. Customers -- including upscale, ethnic and fusion restaurants -- rave about the quality and variety of the produce and the ability to cook with vegetables and herbs, grown to their exact specifications, picked just hours before.

As others were leaving traditional agriculture, Tornello felt it was time to return with a new vision. Combining old techniques with advanced technology he wanted to grow a wholesome crop with little impact on the environment. At 3 Boys Farm he has succeeded. -- 2010


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