For April’s Farmer Tastemakers, three members of the Erickson family — Krista and Kim, and their father Dale — of Canal Point answer questions about their 108-year-old operation, Erickson Farm.
Q: How long have you been in this business?
Dale: I worked with my dad full time since 1972. I took over the business in 1977, and my daughters entered the business after 2001.
Krista: I have been a farmer my entire life. I was a nuisance for the first couple of decades but worked summer vacations and later started full time.
Q: Tell us about your first experience on a farm.
Krista: My family settled here in 1911. I have always been on the farm. Some of my first memories are going to work with Dad; every morning, we would go farming! He took me everywhere with him. When he was out on the tractor, I would ride on the fender — or visit my grandmother and she would spoil me with pudding pops.
Q: Do you have any advice for those looking to become a farmer?
Dale: Love what you do.
Krista: Farming is not for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, dedication, and acceptance of the unknown. You need to be willing to gamble on your instincts and on yourself. I am blessed to have my family to take that gamble with, because working as a team makes us stronger.
Q: Do you focus your produce sales more on consumers or on restaurants?
Kim: Consumer focus includes both local direct sales as well as shipping within the continental U.S. for most of our products.
Dale: Fully on the consumer.
Q: Tell us about some of the local restaurants and/or chefs you work with.
Krista: While we have had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing restaurants and chefs in the past, we are not currently working with any local restaurants or chefs.
Q: What made you want to farm?
Krista: Growing up on the family farm. It’s ever-changing, and no two years are alike.
Kim: Growing up on a farm has a tendency to instill the lifestyle in your blood. The intrinsic reward of growing things and feeding people healthy food is unique
Q: Who has helped you get to the place you are now?
Dale: God, my father and my daughters.
Krista: We are very blessed to a strong farming family here in the EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area). We are friends, neighbors, and technically competitors, but we work together as a team for the greater good, not only of agriculture but to feed the world.
Q: Back to your farm: Why should we love the farm, and what are you doing there that’s truly unique to your business?
Kim: Tropical fruit-tree farms are a unique beast. Tree care is year-round and long-term. Planning, changes and the impact of disasters move very slowly compared to crops that are grown seasonally.
Krista: Erickson Farm is a small family farm that focuses on quality over quantity. We specialize in premier varieties of tropical specialties that are harvested by hand in their peak season. We are currently growing over 40 varieties of Florida mangos, the majority of which are fiber-less with unique flavor nuances that range from peachy to honey-sweet to almost a sweet tart. Exploring the different varieties and finding your favorite flavor is the best part!
Q: Is anything on your agenda that we should know about?
Kim: Mango Madness is an annual event held the third Sunday in July (July 21 this year). It is a special annual event, when our customers can come and visit the farm and see the grove, sample multiple varieties of mangos, purchase fruit, and enjoy food and products from local vendors.
Q: What about secret talents … do you have anything that you’re hiding from us?
Krista: Of course we have secrets. We have been very busy this winter perfecting some of our talents. You will have to come see us next summer to see what we have been up to!
Q: Shout-out: Is there someone you want to tell our readers about (for example, another farmer, small business, artisan, etc.)?
Dale: We have quite a few dedicated small farmers in South Florida that started from nothing. They are indeed an inspiration to me. We recently met and were inspired by Marty and Liza Holman and their family’s farm, Holman’s Harvest.