Jul 18, 2019
Organic vegetable grower named Florida farmer of 2019
Stephen Kloosterman

Charles “Chuck” Obern, owner of C&B Farms
Photo: Sunbelt Ag Expo

The Sunbelt Ag Expo recently named organic herb and vegetable grower Charles “Chuck” Obern, owner of C&B Farms, its 2019 North Carolina farmer of the year.

Graduating from the University of Florida’s Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences 1979 with a major in vegetable crop production and a minor in tropical agriculture, Obern began his career by working for a few farmers in southwest Florida to learn the commercial produce industry. He applied his academic studies and previous hands-on experiments to help grow their businesses. In 1986, he was offered a land share of ten acres just outside Immokalee, and that was the beginning of an enterprise that would progressively expand in acreage and diversity over the years.

C&B Farms grows, both conventionally and organically, thirty different vegetables and herbs on its 1500 acres. Their staple is specialty produce: organic green beans, eggplant, baby bok choy, green cabbage, and an assortment of peppers, greens, radishes, and herbs such as basil, cilantro and other culinary varieties. Yields are as follows: 300 acres of cilantro yielding 1000 cases per acre; 200 acres of bunch radish yielding 1200 cases per acre; 200 acres of organic green beans yielding 150 cases per acre; 150 acres of green cabbage yielding 1000 cases per acre; 100 acres of basil yielding 6450 lbs. per acre; 90 acres of culinary herbs yielding 7500 lbs. per acre; 60 acres of Napa yielding 650 cases per acre; and 60 acres of bok choy yielding 700 cases per acre.

As the Florida winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Wishon will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Florida, a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply. Limehouse is also now eligible for the Expo’s overall farmer of the year contest.


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