Long-time sugar cane growers, the Fanjul family, were honored Wednesday night as the Everglades Agricultural Area Farm Family of the Year.
The award from the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau began in 1986. It recognizes a family whose devotion to the principles of the American farm family tradition as well as its civic service are outstanding.
Andres Fanjul, Cathie Fanjul and Alex Fanjul were present to accept the award at the farm bureau’s annual meeting at Ray’s Heritage Packinghouse in Belle Glade.
John L. Hundley of Hundley Farms gave a history of the Fanjuls, who came to Palm Beach County in 1959 after Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba. In 1960 the Fanjuls founded Florida Crystals Corp., which farms in western Palm Beach County.
“They had been in the sugar industry in Cuba and that is what they knew. So in 1960 they bought three dilapidated sugar mills in Louisiana, barged them to Florida and built the Osceola sugar mill and began farming sugar cane on 4,000 aces. That was their beginning in the EAA and our local communities,” Hundley said.
The Fanjuls are members of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, Belle Glade. Florida Crystals and the Cooperative own ASR Group, which has grown to become the world’s largest cane sugar refining company.
Florida Crystals owns 155,000 acres, two sugar mills, a sugar refinery, a packaging and distribution center and a rice mill in western Palm Beach County.
The Fanjuls also founded New Hope Charities in Pahokee which provides programs and services for men, women and children.