Rory Martin is buckled into his family’s tradition. The Florida native has served as president of Sarasota County Farm Bureau (SCFB) since 1993 and currently lives in his family’s old homestead just outside Sarasota with his wife and children.
Martin grew up in Highlands County and attended college at the University of South Florida. In the early 1980s, his grandparents needed help with the family citrus grove and Martin assisted in what he thought would be a temporary endeavor.
“I went to help my grandparents on the grove in 1983 and ended up staying. I’ve been involved in agriculture ever since,” he said. Today, oranges from the grove are used for juice.
Martin’s family homestead dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. One of the very first Valencia orange trees planted on the property back in 1904 still stands today. “It’s old but it’s still green,” Martin jokes. Martin has inherited the family farm along with his brother; the two brothers with their families operate it today.
Martin’s four children are the sixth generation to live in the old homestead. “I have journals that belonged to my great-grandfather that date back to 1902,” Martin said. “It’s like a little piece of history.”
Martin also serves as president of the Sarasota County Agricultural Fair and is responsible for many events held at the famous Robarts Arena—the largest entertainment venue in Sarasota County.
SCFB is an active participant in the Sarasota County Fair each spring. The local Farm Bureau holds a fair booth to support youth education for area FFA and 4-H students. “The food booth is probably my favorite event,” Martin stated. “We generate enough revenue to be able to give back to the kids.”
Area volunteers serve up a full barbecue dinner of chicken, pork, ribs and various sides and homemade desserts. More than 100 volunteers help make this annual fundraising event a success.
The SCFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Committee has recently taken off, according to Martin. “For the first time in several years we are sending eight young farmers and ranchers to the Statewide Florida Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference in Punta Gorda,” he said.
Martin shared his favorite old family recipe for Apple Cobbler. “We make this for any family gathering or event and everyone loves it!” Martin exclaimed. The recipe is as follows:
2 #10 cans apple pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
¼ stick butter, cut
Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Pour apple pie filling on the bottom. Mix cake batter according to the package directions and pour on top of apple pie filing. For the crust, place cut up butter along the perimeter of the baking dish. Bake at 300 degrees for approximately one hour.