Anyone who has ever attended the lively annual Women in Agriculture Luncheon knows the strong and enduring role women have played in farming, especially in what we call Deep South Dade. And in the 100-plus years of our local communities, the Dade County Farm Bureau is, “Dade County’s oldest and largest agricultural organization. Dade County Farm Bureau was the first county Farm Bureau established in Florida. For over 75 years, the DCFB has been an integral part of the agricultural community, bringing farmers together to solve issues collectively. Dade County Farm Bureau has over 900 grower members, making it the largest agricultural organization in Miami-Dade County.”
Even as the agriculture community bid fond farewell to Farm Bureau Executive Director, Jorge Abreu, the new director, Tyra Phillips, has taken the reins, to use the parlance of her lifetime love of horses.
Erik Tietig, President Farm Bureau, 2018-2019, and Vice President of Pine Island Nursery, looks forward to working with Phillips. “After careful consideration of numerous resumes and multiple in person interviews Ms. Phillips stood out above all others, and I am confident that she will thrive in the position and serve our organization well.”
Others know her from her tireless promotion of Redland Ahead, the non-profit organization that includes training programs for the underserved and veterans. Far more than that, they assumed the management of Verde Community Farm and Market, where Phillips became the operations manager to the market and commercial kitchen, now known as the Redland Community Farm and Market. Her coordination of the sale/marketing of their organic produce, establishing and hosting events at the marketplace, and providing community outreach are characteristic of the talent she brings to the Farm Bureau.
Unlike our common heat and humidity, her early years were in upstate New York where her father, an Immigration Officer, worked the Canadian
border. For her, “I had the best of 3 worlds growing up - I lived in a small town on Lake Champlain, I got to go into Canada on a regular basis and my Grandmother lived in Vermont, which was a short trip across the bridge.”
The love of farmland and horses reaches back multiple generations though as her mother was one of ten children on a farm in Wisconsin, and her father’s youth was spent helping his father in logging on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her father’s transfer to become the Head Immigration Officer for Miami International Airport when Phillips was a teenager was a definite change for the family. In seeking out, “Places to ride and be away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” she found the nearby open spaces she quickly came to love.
A career centered around agriculture was not her first path, however, as she went into law enforcement and became a background investigator during time with the City of Coral Gables Police Department. An unfortunate cycling accident moved her into a new career of major event planning for a few years. Those experiences and her expertise will come in handy when the Farm Bureau holds their annual April “FUNdraising” BBQ, often referred to as the, “largest outdoor party in Dade County”.
Setting aside celebratory events, Phillips has the background and enthusiasm to build on the efforts of the Dade County Farm Bureau in helping the agricultural community face continuing challenges to their historical way of life. Among her many goals are, “To unite the farming community, including smaller farms, and ensuring farmland in Miami-Dade County is preserved for future generations of farmers.” She will, however, also take time to enjoy her horse, kayaking, and family gatherings on her farm.
For more information about the many dimensions of the Dade County Farm Bureau and to keep up with important agricultural news, go to http://www.dade-agriculture.org