Sarasota’s Celery Fields is now known as a place with an actual hill to climb and a great bird watching site. But back in the early 20th century, much of the country’s celery came from a 2,000 acre plot of land that had once just been muck. Bertha Palmer and her family, however, had seen its potential.
After Bertha’s death in 1918, her sons took over the family’s interest in this acreage. Under their leadership, a series of canals were built for drainage, enabling the land to be used for farming. Although different crops were initially grown there, by 1927 it had been determined that celery did best.
Sarasota’s celery farmers had one big advantage over celery growers in other parts of the country: they could grow year-round. This enabled Sarasota’s celery business to thrive even during the Depression. The largest celery farming enterprise was operated by the Bell Brothers. Their enterprise was later sold to the Ferlise Family, which sold celery under the label “Fancee Farms.”
Jessica (aka Josie) found art class in high school provided one of the only passing grades easily achieved.
Painting community theater sets became a passion throughout high school moving into theater arts for the first year of college. Academics in college again were not her best sport so she dropped out. The Parents were not pleased. Wisely she convinced The Parents that Ringling School of Art & Design was the School of Higher Learning best suited for a career driven endeavor. This Michigander became a Floridian in 1974 .
In 1977 Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey opened a scenic studio east Sarasota. Floats we built were test driven in the pasture across from the shop. Florida was Cattle everywhere. Florida had Celery Fields nearby this shop. Florida life was "rural" and beautiful. Florida landscapes are an acquired appreciation that can soothe the spirit. Hot, humid, solid, flowing and undeveloped vastness is The Florida I love.
I painted The Florida Cracker Cattle Drive and The Celery Fields. Two Florida experiences it seems native Floridians loved and lost to development.
Nanette Crist is a retired lawyer who began blogging when she moved to Florida. It was an online diary of sorts, a way to keep track of her new life. It was also a good way to share her discoveries with friends and family outside the area. Over time, Nanette realized her writing makes her experience the world differently. She keeps an eye out for interesting things to write about and then delves more deeply into them as she crafts her words. It's all about telling the story. Nanette's blog can be found at http://nanettesnewlife.blogspot.com.