WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — Florida’s largest organic farm is now the state’s only Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) farmland. Florida Crystals Corp., the nation’s only producer and miller of certified organic sugar, said its organic sugar, organic molasses and organic rice have achieved ROC status. At 10,000-acres, the southern Florida corporate farm is also the largest ROC farm in the United States.
The Regenerative Organic Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, oversees the ROC certification process. Established and led by a community of farmers and agribusiness leaders, the ROC program aims to ensure that environmental, ethical and social standards are met at every level of production in the development of food, fiber and personal care products. Building off of the US Department of Agriculture’s certified organic program, this privately led organization sets parameters for soil health, animal welfare and social fairness guidelines for farmers and other laborers.
“As part of the agricultural community, we believe we must be proactive and provide solutions to continue to feed the world in a meaningful way while also building our soil’s vitality and drawing down and storing carbon, just as nature intended the ecological system to work,” said Jaime Vega, vice president of agriculture at Florida Crystals. “We encourage all farmers to follow these practices, which enhance our natural resources while also improving productivity.”
Florida Crystals began the process of evaluating its ability to acquire ROC status in 2020 by conducting a series of internal farm-by-farm reviews. Through these assessments, the company created and followed five pillars of agriculture: minimize soil disturbance, keep soils covered, increase biodiversity above and below ground, upcycle byproducts and reduce synthetic chemicals.
The farm participates in a series of rotating biodiverse crops throughout the seasons to replenish soil nutrients. It also practices a wide range of upcycling methods, including composting agricultural byproducts to use as organic fertilizer on its crops and using sugar cane fiber to produce green energy for its refining operations. The farm also manages the world’s largest onsite owl box network, providing a safe habitat for over 1200 native barn owls who patrol the fields for rodents.“Florida Crystals ensures their farming practices work in harmony with their region’s precious natural environment and neighboring communities,” said Elizabeth Whitlow, executive director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance. “We are thrilled to see that their Regenerative Organic Certified farming methods produce high-quality sugar while building soil, benefiting wildlife, and shaping a better water future for Florida.”