This month’s FNGLA column is adapted from a speech delivered at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center’s 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 7.
Fifty years ago, a group of people a lot like us gathered right here, and they dedicated this research center. One of the speakers that day said the center, “represents the hopes, dreams, and active efforts of many people.”
The names have changed. Even the name of Apopka’s mayor has changed. The late John Land held the office for 61 years!
Half a century ago, this place was called the Ridge Ornamental Horticultural Laboratory. Back then, the IFAS name -- the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences -- was still so new that it was led by its founder, E.T. York. He was the speaker I referred to, and he took special care to recognize a man named Jack Christmas.
Christmas was president of what was then known as “FNGA” and one of the driving forces behind the creation of this center. We don’t know what Jack said that day, but we know what E.T. York said.