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Florida Citrus Hall of Fame 2016 inductees

The selection committee for The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has announced three distinguished leaders will be inducted into the Hall during the 54th Citrus Celebration Luncheon on Friday, March 11, 2016, at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.

William S. (Bill) Castle of Lake Alfred, FL, John C. (Jack) Norris of Palm City, FL, and Victor B. (Vic) Story Jr. of Lake Wales, FL, will be honored at the luncheon, scheduled to take place at 11:30 a.m. in the Hollis Wellness Center.


Castle is internationally recognized as the leading authority on rootstocks, and the entire Florida citrus industry has been shaped by his work. His research has resulted in improved citrus scion and rootstock development, orchard design and management of high-density planting, citrus propagation and pre-plant expert systems, windbreak design and establishment, along with pomegranate cultivars and plantings.castleWilliam S. (Bill) Castle

Most of the Navels grown in Florida today are the result of his early work on scion varieties and he did significant work developing new sweet oranges, with focus on early-maturing selections with better juice color and flavor, to improve the not-from-concentrate product. 

Castle was also extremely conscientious about his research and its benefit to the industry, working with economists to make certain that his information was not only scientifically correct, but also economically sound for the grower. Known widely throughout the international community, his extensive network of researchers has made numerous collaborations possible, resulting in break-through research on HLB and most recently, while in retirement, the beginnings of a commercial pomegranate industry.

His research also helped to develop the “DISC” precision ag program and one of its outcomes, Advanced Citrus Production Systems. A former assistant professor at the University of Florida, he inspired numerous students to become involved in the industry, and many now serve in leadership roles today.


Norris is a native Floridian who has devoted countless hours of service to industry, educational, and civic organizations while working in top management positions at major corporations such as Coca-Cola Foods and Turner Foods Corp. Despite the intense demands of his corporate responsibilities, he served in a variety of volunteer leadership roles with numerous industry organizations such as Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Florida Citrus Mutual, University of Florida Advisory Boards and the Florida Citrus Production Managers Association. norrisJohn C. (Jack) Norris

Norris believed strongly that industry organizations needed to work together to educate governmental leaders about the role Florida growers have in providing so much of the nation’s food supply and worked tirelessly to help achieve that goal.

During his tenure with Coca-Cola Foods, Norris and his team worked closely with UF/IFAS and USDA/ARS researchers, as well as private companies, to pursue innovative solutions in the areas of production, harvesting, labor and marketing that benefitted the entire industry. Many of the first high-density plantings in Florida citrus occurred under his leadership, and some of the first privately owned mechanical harvesting equipment and fungicide trials took place in the company groves. He went on to become president and chief executive officer of Florida Power & Light’s Turner Foods Corp. and in the same manner successfully led the operation until his retirement in 2000.

Under Norris’ leadership, Turner Foods grew into one of the largest citrus growing operations in Florida and by the early 90s the company had acquired approximately 20,000 acres of citrus properties in the state. While there, he recruited some of the finest talent in the industry to his management team and left a legacy of individuals who have followed in his footsteps as outstanding leaders of their companies and industry organizations, providing an enormous benefit to the entire citrus industry.


Story is known throughout the industry for his hard work, multi-generational business and his world class production techniques. He serves as president of The Story Cos., a well-respected grove-management and fruit-marketing operation based in Lake Wales. He and his father grew the family business from 100 acres to 2,500 acres in central and south Florida, and The Story Cos. now owns and manages more than 7,000 acres of citrus with 30 full time employees.storyVictor B. (Vic) Story Jr.

Story is a leader in cutting edge production methods, being one of the first to spray for psyllids with the onset of HLB — commonly known as greening. He was one of the first growers to transition from overhead irrigation to micro jet technologies, and is a pioneer in the use of software to trace chemical and fertilizer use per block per variety to improve efficiency of operations. He also helped to create the Sun Lion citrus label, which is currently sold at Whole Foods and other grocery stores, to provide a high-quality Florida branded fresh product to consumers. More than 100,000 Sun Lion cartons were shipped during the 2014-2015 season. 

More importantly, Story has represented Florida citrus growers tirelessly, on countless occasions, at the highest levels in Washington and Tallahassee as president of Florida Citrus Mutual and a member of the Florida Citrus Commission. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam noted, “Vic is an industry leader and a first-class gentleman. He’s a quiet giant for the citrus industry — when he does speak, everybody listens.”

Peapod-Gotham Greens partnership extends to Midwest

Peapod, a leading online grocer, announced that Gotham Greens hyper-local greenhouse salads and herbs are now available to Chicagoland, Milwaukee and Indianapolis shoppers from Peapod. The launch in Midwest markets is an expansion of the companies’ existing partnership; Peapod currently carries Gotham Greens produce in New York City and New Jersey.gotham

Inspired by innovation and the local food movement, Gotham Greens was founded in Brooklyn, NY, in 2009 and has grown to operate over 170,000 square feet of technologically advanced rooftop greenhouses in New York City and Chicago. In 2015, Chicago’s South Side welcomed the urban farm’s newest greenhouse, which is 75,000 square feet. The new greenhouse is one of the world’s largest and highest-efficiency rooftop farms. It is completely powered by renewable energy and boasts the latest innovations in climate control and advanced sustainability methods.

Peapod customers in Chicagoland, Indianapolis and Milwaukee can enjoy eight of Gotham Greens hyper-local greens: Butterhead lettuce, Green Oak Leaf, Red Oak Leaf, Gourmet Lettuce Medley, Chicago Crisp, Windy City Crunch, Pullman Green Leaf and basil, with more to come soon.

“We know our customers love choice, and that includes the option to buy fresh, pesticide-free produce that is sustainably grown and locally sourced, which is why Gotham Greens’ line of hyper-local selections are a perfect fit for Peapod,” Tony Stallone, Peapod’s vice president of fresh markets, said in a press release. “Now, Peapod customers in Chicagoland, Indy and Milwaukee can shop even more options for high-quality, healthy and local greens delivered to their doorstep — anytime, anywhere.”

“We’re excited to bring our unique, award-winning brand of hyper-local produce to the Midwest region and thrilled to be working with Peapod to ensure online customers can conveniently and reliably access the freshest greens and herbs, grown locally and sustainably 365 days a year,” Viraj Puri, Gotham Greens’ chief executive officer, said in the release.

Loblaw food drive challenges Canadians to 'Think Fresh'

The holiday season is synonymous with families gathering to enjoy home-cooked meals, but for more than 850,000 Canadians, one-third of which are children, their holiday menu will be determined by what is available at local food banks across Canada, according to Food Banks Canada Hunger Count 2015.loblaw

According to the Loblaw Holiday Food Drive Survey, 84 percent of Canadians plan to donate to a food bank this holiday season; however, many do not understand the importance of cash donations or associate them with fresh foods — just 24 percent believe money donated is for purchasing fresh foods.

The data come in contrast to Canadians' feelings toward fresh foods as part of their holiday meal: 87 percent of Canadians believe that half or more of the dishes on the table for their holiday meal will be fresh items and more than three-quarters of Canadians, 76 percent, believe it would be very or somewhat difficult to meet all of their nutritional requirements with canned and processed foods.

"Fresh foods are at the core of our business and it is our responsibility to advocate for increased access for all Canadians," Sonya Fiorini, senior director of corporate social responsibility, Loblaw companies Ltd., said in a press release. "Our survey shows that less than 20 per cent of Canadians plan to contribute financially to food banks this year, which could limit the fresh food available and leave holes on holiday tables across the country. We are urging our customers to join with us in an effort to provide more fresh meals this holiday season."

Understanding the importance of fresh food for any holiday meal, Loblaw is using the annual Holiday Food Drive to increase awareness of a non-perishable most Canadians don't consider: money.

"Imagine a holiday meal without fresh food," Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, said in the release. "No turkey, no colourful assortment of farm-fresh greens — for many Canadian families, this is a reality. Monetary donations give food banks the flexibility to provide more fresh items for people in need, and to purchase other food or personal care products they may be lacking."

Since launching in 2009, Loblaw's Food Drives have raised $10.8 million and 10.7 million pounds of food to help Canadian families. Loblaw has set a goal to raise $1.5 million and 1 million pounds of food for Canadian food banks during the 2015 holiday season through local food drives at Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, No Frills, Zehrs, Atlantic Superstore and Your Independent Grocer locations across Canada.

BJ’s Wholesale Club names new president and COO

BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. announced that Christopher J. Baldwin has been named president and chief operating officer. Baldwin will have responsibility for business operations, including merchandising, logistics, membership, marketing and club operations and will also join BJ’s board of

“I am very excited to welcome Chris to the BJ’s team,” Laura Sen, BJ’s chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Chris’ record of excellence in leading large and successful organizations in the retail and consumer sectors will help us to build upon BJ’s strong heritage of offering a distinctive shopping experience and deep value proposition to BJ’s millions of loyal members.”

Baldwin brings more than 30 years of experience as an executive in the retail and consumer products industries.  Before joining BJ’s, he was most recently CEO of Hess Retail Corp., an operator of over 1,300 fuel and convenience stores on the East Coast prior to its successful sale to Marathon Petroleum Corp.  Before joining Hess, Baldwin served in a variety of leadership roles including president of snacks at Kraft Foods (Nabisco), president of North America at the Hershey Co., and several executive roles at Procter & Gamble.

“I am privileged and excited to have the opportunity to join BJ’s terrific team,” Baldwin said in the release. “BJ’s operates a unique and well-positioned model within the very exciting wholesale club retail channel. I look forward to working with BJ’s executives, team members, and its board of directors to help bring value to all our stakeholders.”  

“We are delighted to welcome Chris Baldwin to the BJ’s team," Cameron Breitner, partner of CVC Capital Partners, said in the release. "Over a long career in the retail and consumer sectors, Chris has proven himself to be an outstanding and innovative leader at a number of great companies, and we expect him to make similar contributions at BJ’s.”

Jonathan Seiffer, senior partner at Leonard Green & Partners, said, “BJ’s has been a highly successful investment since the take-private transaction in 2011. Our firm has a deep history of investing in outstanding retail businesses, and we believe that the addition of Chris Baldwin to the BJ’s team will help to further establish BJ’s as a leading player in the U.S. retail landscape.”

Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers names new board of directors

The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers announced its new board of directors for the 2015-16 growing season. During the Annual General Meeting held in Brantford, ON, Oct. 27, the members elected five directors to the 2015 board of directors for a two-year term:

  • Kevin Safrance of Envirofresh Produce Ltd. – District 1
  • Hilco Tamminga of Truly Green Farms – District 1
  • Naunihal Gill of eNature Greenhouses – District 2
  • Marco Hoogenboom of Hoogenboom Farms  – District 2
  • James Neven of Neven Produce – District 2

Following the Annual General Meeting, one seat for a term of one-year remained vacant. On Nov. 13, the District 2 Greenhouse Vegetable Producers’ Committee appointed Jan VanderHout of Beverly Greenhouses as a director for a one-year term. Those directors are joined by four directors whose terms continue through to Oct. 31, 2016:

  • James Cornies of Cornies Farms – District 1
  • Paul Mastronardi of Mastron Enterprises Ltd. – District 1
  • Jim Slater of Sunsation Acres – District 1
  • Mike Vanderzwet of St. David’s Hydroponics – District 2

The new Board held its first meeting Nov. 25 in London, ON, and elected James Cornies and Jan VanderHout as vice-chairs of OGVG from their respective districts  for 2015-16. In addition, the following directors were elected to chair OGVG committees for the upcoming year:

  • Hilco Tamminga of Truly Green—energy and environmental committee
  • Naunihal Gill of eNature Greenhouses—finance committee
  • James Cornies of Cornies Farms—food safety committee
  • Jim Slater of Sunsation Acres—marketing committee
  • Marco Hoogenboom of Hoogenboom Farms—research committee