The Glades region of western Palm Beach County is a vast and verdant swath comprised primarily of the designated Everglades Agricultural Area. Within those boundaries and along the southeastern rim of Lake Okeechobee lie the cities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay, the westernmost communities in Palm Beach County. These greenbelt cities possess a unique vantage point. They are…
- Within a 100-mile radius of 75% of the state’s population.
- A gateway, at only 38 miles from the Palm Beaches and Florida’s Atlantic East Coast; 90 miles from Ft. Myers, Florida’s West Coast, and the Gulf of Mexico; and 90 miles north of Miami.
- The epicenter of agricultural production – primarily sugar cane and winter vegetables – with 500,000 acres of fertile muck soils.
- The launch pad to Lake Okeechobee itself: natural wonder, bass fishing paradise, and vital fresh-water resource.
- The home of 21st-century food processing, sugar milling and refining, manufacturing, distribution, and operations centers with a firm understanding of sustainability.
The Lake Region is home to a unique set of industry clusters that play to its strengths:
Distribution / Logistics
Area: Belle Glade
With a population of 18,061 Belle Glade is the largest of the three cities in the Lake Region. Its motto is, “Her Soil is Her Fortune,” and agriculture is the number one industry here, as it is in Pahokee and South Bay, where the soil is perfect for growing sugarcane, vegetables, ornamental landscaping, and sod. “Minutes away and a world apart,” Belle Glade is delightfully different from the Florida known to most visitors. Situated on the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee, the second largest fresh water lake within the continental United States, Belle Glade offers what its residents consider “the perfect combination of modern growth tempered with a relaxed country lifestyle.”
That’s “Grassy Waters” in Seminole. Pahokee is the only town located directly on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, known as Palm Beach County’s “Other” Coast. Seven miles of majestic towering Royal Palm trees greet visitors driving into this quaint old Florida community, population 6,029 and characterized by a tropical climate and moderating balmy breezes from the Lake.
Like the rest of the Glades, Pahokee is built upon nature’s richest organic soil, making the town a natural home for those now-rare Royal Palms. The town prides itself on preserving its a quaint “Old Florida” feeling, which has attracted residents eager to get away from the bustle of the coastal cities.
Area: South Bay
“The Crossroads of South Florida,” South Bay is nestled where East-West State Road 80 and North-South U.S. 27 intersect. As with Belle Glade and Pahokee, available labor, low taxes, willing government, and strong infrastructure make South Bay well suited for virtually any industry — from distribution to manufacturing to tourism and recreation. Its population is 5,015.
Area: Major Employers
Duda & Sons
DUDA’s diversified operations include Duda Farm Fresh Foods, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DUDA that manages the company’s fresh produce operations; Duda Ranches, a business unit within DUDA that manages the company’s four agriculture operating divisions: sod, cattle, sugarcane and citrus; and The Viera Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of DUDA that operates the company’s real estate and community development business. Founded in 1926, Duda Farm Fresh Foods is one of the world’s largest celery producers and is a full-service grower, packer, shipper, processor, marketer, importer, and exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables. Duda Farm Fresh Foods is in its fifth generation of family ownership and remains committed to its founding vision of providing fresh, flavorful, quality produce at affordable prices.
Everglades Farm Equipment
Everglades Farm Equipment is a family-owned business that started in 1963 serving the agricultural industry around Lake Okeechobee and has grown to 12 locations covering South and Central Florida. It serves a wide range of customers from some of the largest agricultural producers of sugar, citrus and vegetables to individual farmers, nurseries, and commercial landscape management companies as well as large and small property owners. It is also one of the largest John Deere dealers in the world. The family also runs a farm operation.
Employing approximately 2,000 people any given time of year, Florida Crystals is one of the largest private employers in Palm Beach County. This company offers an array of agriculture products, including organic foods. Florida Crystals operates a one-of-a-kind renewable energy facility that provides clean power for its operations along with tens of thousands of area homes.
Palm Beach County features three sugar mills and one sugar refinery that Florida Crystals utilizes to create its products that reaches tables and coffee cups around the world every day!
Hugh Branch, Inc.
Since 1957, its founding principles still drive Branch Farms: integrity, quality, service, – a commitment to its industry and the sustainability our environment. As a family owned and operated business, it is a premier grower, packer, shipper of sweet corn in the United States, also offering customers green beans, leafy greens, radishes and celery. A family of farms, its growers drive its business. Branch has a rich history of strong, vested relationship with each one.
- D&D Ag
- Grassy Waters Produce
- Growers Management, Inc.
- Integrity Farms
- JET Farms Georgia, Inc.
- King Ranch
- Long Leaf Farms
- Michael Farms
- Mouzin Brothers Farm
- My T Acres
- Pope Management
- C. Hatton, Inc.
- Riverview Plantation
- Sakata Farms, Inc.
- Strano Farms
Currently, Hundley farms approximately 16,000 acres of land that includes a majority of sweet corn and sugar cane. It continues to diversify growth by producing GAP certified annually, non-GMO field corn, radishes, celery, green beans, and cattle. Along with the diversification and growth of the farm, the Hundley family has continued to grow and evolve into a family owned, run and operated business. Hundley Farms complies with South Florida Water Management District’s best management practices and utilizes many conservation techniques to ensure that the farm will be sustainable for future generations.
Morning Star Harvesting
Established 65 years ago, Pioneer Growers is one of the largest distributors of sweet corn in the industry, growing over 13,000 acres annually, in addition to 6,000 acres of green beans, radishes, celery and cabbage. In the summer of 1950, a small group of local farmers established a marketing cooperative to handle and market their fresh vegetables. In 2012 Pioneer expanded in partnership with Hundley Farms to build a state-of-the-art corn packing line. They have the ability to pack over 25,000 crates a day to the highest standards in the industry.
Royal Family Businesses
Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida
The Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida is a cooperative that is made up of 45 farms which annually grows approximately 350,000 tons of raw sugar. This cooperative grows its sugarcane within the Everglades Agricultural Area, which is among the most fertile farmland in the USA. This cooperative alone produces enough sugar to satisfy the demand of over 9 million consumers, annually.
TKM Bengard Farms
Officially incorporating in 1996, TKM Bengard Farms, LLC has employed over 1,000 workers at its site in Belle Glade during peak seasons. This company harvests and distributes a countless amount of vegetables throughout the USA. TKM Bengard Farms, LLC has received the prestigious American Vegetable Grower’s Achievement Award, and it is proudly owned and operated by the Basore family.
U.S. Sugar Corporation
U.S. Sugar grows and processes sugarcane, citrus, and sweet corn for well-known national brands. The company farms more than 215,000 acres in Glades, Hendry, Palm Beach, and Martin counties and is a vital part of those rural communities, employing 1,700 people and donating generously to local causes. U.S. Sugar is responsible for 10% of sugar produced in the United States, up to 90 million gallons of orange juice, and half of Florida’s sweet corn crop.