Title: 2002 Woman of Year: Annette Land
Type: Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award
Even if you wanted to, you would have a hard time keeping up with her. From watermelons to real estate, cow pens to pianos, grandkids to grand ideas, no matter what the day brings, Annette Land handles every situation with boundless energy.
With 6000 acres spreading across 5 counties, the Lands own one of the larger beef cattle operations in North Florida. Their 2,000 plus herd is made up of crossbred females, and Registered Black Angus and Horned Hereford Bulls. When working the cows, the family uses mostly registered quarter horses raised on the ranch. When she’s not busy keeping the records, Mrs. Land still enjoys riding when it’s time to round-up the cattle.
Born and raised on a family farm in Suwannee County, Mrs. Land is a fifth-generation agriculturalist and has spent her entire life close to the land. With her husband Raymon, sons Jody and Adrian and their families, the Lands are not only involved in cattle production, they also manage crop cultivation and promotion, and have ventured into agricultural real estate sales.
Since 1974, Mrs. Land has been a real estate broker. As owner of Land Brokerage Realtor, she specializes in the sale of land she knows best: the Suwannee River Valley.
Annette Land: I’ve sold dairies and I have actually sold several farms and timber tracts and mostly to do with the land.
Besides running the business at her office in Branford, Mrs. Land also manages the accounts for all of the family’s businesses, including its biggest -- watermelons.
Annette Land: Well that’s our life blood, watermelons. From the time I can remember as a child we grew watermelons. We have been shipping watermelons all of these years.
Harvesting starts in Immokalee then moves north to Wauchula, Arcadia, and Zolfo Springs. From there the watermelon shipments begin in Branford where Raymon J. Land Watermelon Sales will begin packing and shipping the fruit. When the summer season is over more than 2,500 semi-truck loads of sweet melons will have been delivered to the East, the Midwest, and into Canada.
Annette Land: And so in the years that we’ve been involved in it, we started working with the watermelon associations. And my husband, being president of Florida and National, I’ve helped set up conventions. I’ve helped work with the queens all these years, both Florida and National. And so we have friendly faces all over the country that are watermelon people. It’s kind of like a family, extended family.
In addition to the Florida Watermelon Association, Mrs. Land has actively served on the National Watermelon Promotion Board since 2000. She also sits on a number of committees and serves as the board’s secretary/treasurer.
Her zeal for watermelon promotion doesn’t stop at the boardroom, it is also carried into the classroom; educating children about the goodness of her favorite fruit is a top priority. Mrs. Land deeply believes that children should be educated about the importance of all agriculture. As a family with children involved in FFA, the Lands have been staunch supporters of the program, its leadership role, and continue to support it financially.
For years now the Land family has been involved in the church as well as missionary efforts in Central America. But recently her family has become involved in another mission much closer to home.
Annette Land: In the past year, my son went into the ministry, Adrian, and he was hired by the Harmony Baptist Association to do a mission down at Rosewood, Florida. And because he became involved, I became involved and we’ve almost got the building completed and the church will grow and it’ll be a church where there was no church right here in Florida.
When I was a little girl my granny played the piano in our church. And from the time she was showing me about the piano, I think I was four or five, then I learned to play.
These days Mrs. Land finds peace by practicing piano at her church, the Hatchbend Baptist, where she plays at special events.
Annette Land: I love to play for the church. It’s a lot of fun.
I was raised on the Suwannee River in O’Brien. I spent a lot of time in the afternoons in the springs along the Suwannee River swimming. And I don’t remember my life without the Suwannee.
In the late eighties Mrs. Land worked on the “Save Our Rivers Act” and through her real estate business, was able to help set aside over seven miles along the Suwannee River for preservation. Through her and her husband Raymon’s efforts, a piece of property at the confluence of the Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers will remain in perpetuity as a wildlife sanctuary.
Annette Land has a rich life. She has a wealth of family and friends who share her passion for the Suwannee River Valley and Florida agriculture. She has responsibilities and duties that allow her to meet new people, while promoting the things she loves. And she has the faith and the energy to make things happen.
Annette Land: My mother always told me to rise above whatever you are in, every day make it a better day and I’ve kind of stuck to that. No opportunity is a problem you can’t solve, it’s an opportunity. I have just begun, although I am at this point mature, I love life. And I would like to see my family continue the businesses we’ve started and both of my sons are in it. I would like for the grandchildren to go on to college and yet be able to come back into the business and reap the benefits of what we’ve worked so hard for. And I’d like to go on vacation and ski and ride my horse and watch great grandbabies come up.