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Meet John D. Vivian of Florida Food & Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to John D. Vivian.

John, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Daphne Weaver, a former Arkansas attorney, came up with the idea for a print publication focusing on Florida’s small farmers and ranchers, as well as, the local-food/farm-to-table movements in 2015. Daphne also believes that people in the United States — and indeed, the world — will survive only by practicing sustainable agriculture — another movement that “Florida Food & Farm” promotes.

The Sunshine State has about 47,000 farms and ranches, big and small (yes, 47,000), according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. So, there is plenty of “ag” to write about in Florida.
Daphne, who now lives about 4 miles from Florida Food & Farm’s office in downtown Lake Worth, FL, hired Jan Norris as editor in 2015. Jan had served for decades as the food editor for West Palm Beach-based “Palm Beach Post” daily newspaper. She retired from “The Post” in 2008.

Readers’ reactions to the magazine, published quarterly for 18 months, were enthusiastic and positive. Though “Florida Food & Farm” is now online-only, people still appreciate our monthly listings of festivals and fairs throughout the state, as well as our stories about a variety of other agricultural-related topics.

Has it been a smooth road?
The biggest problems “Florida Food & Farm” faced were high costs for printing and distribution. We distributed hard copies of “Florida Food & Farm” statewide, so trucking and delivery costs were exorbitant.
Fortunately, because we’re online-only, we can publish stories, photos and videos and we can update information quickly, at any time.

As far as I personally am concerned, I’ve had few struggles. I travel to interesting places, meet and interview fascinating people, shoot photos and videos, and write stories. I retired several years ago from print journalism (“The Palm Beach Post” in West Palm Beach) and from teaching literature and business writing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Sometimes, the conditions I experience are less than ideal, of course. I’ve stepped in cow-paddies, slept in hotels that were not five-star-rated or anywhere near it, shot photos in a pasture at 6:15 a.m. when the temperature was 37 degrees and I’ve subjected my 13-year-old Toyota Solara convertible to a variety of substandard roads and conditions.

My biggest pain is the heavy traffic I sometimes face (near Tampa, Jacksonville, etc.), but I still consider my job as editor, photographer and writer for “FFF,” as I call it, a great one.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We are proudest that we can tell the stories of small farmers and ranchers, as well as those, such as restaurants, who support farm-to-table and sustainable agriculture. But, we address other issues when we feel they’re important.

For example, months before the 2016 election, in which voters approved Amendment 2 — allowing the use of medical cannabis — I wrote and we ran, stories about this topic. After the election, we ran follow-up stories about it. We still cover the issue from time to time. Another important issue in Florida is, water and we keep readers updated on that.

Florida’s water supply is often unpredictable. For example, in the spring of 2007, a longtime drought caused Lake Okeechobee to drop to levels so low, much of the underwater vegetation was exposed. Within a few months, more than 10,000 acres of the dried vegetation caught fire and burned. Keep in mind… these fires were burning on what had been the bottom of the second-largest freshwater lake in the U.S.

I’ve lived in Palm Beach County since August 1974, so I know a lot about the state’s history and agriculture. I enjoy educating readers about “ag” in Florida.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Since we’re in Lake Worth, I can’t answer this. But, I do know that Miami is a vibrant city that provides a wide variety of cultural — and multicultural — as well as business and recreational opportunities.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

J.D. Vivian

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