It is far more than a pun to say our region’s modern history is rooted in agriculture. While railroad enthusiasts can correctly claim Henry Flagler’s early 1900s southward expansion opened the way for local produce to become available to greater markets, the pioneering farm families were the ones who saw to it those rail cars were filled. Wilfred Vick was one of the men who came a little later in 1917, and returned from Ohio with his family in 1918, perhaps not knowing he was beginning a legacy now celebrating their centennial in our community.
The challenges facing farmers have never been easy and four generations of Vicks symbolize this as well as some of the unique aspects of local agriculture. Their transition from “winter farming” to year-round, diversification of crops, enduring Hurricane Andrew’s devastation and recovering to move into ornamental palms. During the course of these changes the Vick women did more than stand alongside. As Pamela Vick and Jessica Vick Borek were honored at the Twelfth Annual Women in Agriculture Luncheon, it was clear they represent the definitive role women play in Florida agriculture.
Prior to the ceremony, Mrs. Carol Harris, Chair, Dade County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, quickly reeled off examples of programs their members are involved in; Ag in the Classroom, helping students plant gardens in schools, Howdy Days of the Miami-Dade Fair, teaming with Kiwanis Just-One-Book (book give-away) Program, an annual Turkey Drive, and annual Toy Drive, their Harvest Queen and Scholarship Program to name a few.
“More than a decade ago we identified ourselves as, ‘The Voice of Agriculture’, with the phrase, “It Starts Young.’ We see the impact we have with our youth in teaching them about the importance of agriculture. You look around and so many of the women here are part of these great programs.”
There is no question Pamela Vick and daughter Jessica Borek continue to demonstrate this impact. Although Pamela Vick was born into an Air Force family in Texas, she married into a farming family. She balanced helping her husband, Fred, the third generation of Vick farmers, while excelling at her own career with Florida Power and Light. Reeling from Hurricane Andrew and faced with ever-changing facets of agriculture, she fully supported her husband’s new entry into landscaping and was equally supportive when son, Tom, decided to establish V&B Farms. In fact, having “retired” more than once, she’s currently the Director of Sales and proud of their pesticide-free greens and other fruits and vegetables.
Speaking of, “It Starts Young”, eight-year-old Jessica began spending summers in the plant nursery. As a teen, she worked at the roadside vegetable stand set up by her parents, aunt and uncle. When she married into the Borek family, another well-known name, helping her husband on his farm was a given. Starting her own JVB Farms, Inc. in 2002, was a move demonstrating her love of agriculture and willingness to tackle tough challenges.
Both women have served on multiple committees over the years providing countless hours of caring and advocacy to the agricultural and local communities. After touching introductions by
After touching introductions by Mrs. Pat Haughton-James and Mr. Phil Marraccini, delivery of accolades included Ms. Ivonne Perez-Suarez reading a letter from Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. Mayor Jeff Porter provided a Pamela Vick and Jessica Borek Day Proclamation, State Senator Anitere Flores and State Representative Holly Raschein praised the women as did Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. Mr. Kevin Chambliss represented Commissioner Dennis Moss and Mr. Frank Balzebre represented Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Charles LaPradd, Miami Dade County Agriculture, was also in attendance and Mr. Jorge Abreu, Dade County Farm Bureau Director, read a letter from State Representative Katie Edwards. Mrs. Debbie Zimmerman from U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Daniel Leyte-Vidal from U.S Congressman Carlos Curbelo brought all the Vick family members on stage to present American flags which had been flown over the U.S. Capital in honor of the two women.
Mother and daughter thanked everyone and expressed appreciation for the honors. In a moment after the ceremony, Vick’s reflection was, “There is still a lot of agriculture in South Dade and women play a large part whether in front or behind the scenes. I’m hopeful for the next generation and grateful my children are continuing the tradition.”
Borek as a role model of her generation gave a quick answer to the question, “What do you want people to know about women in agriculture?”
“That we work just as hard as men or harder and we’re here to stay.”
The luncheon would not have been complete however without selecting the winner of the Kentucky Derby Hat Contest. Attendees are encouraged to wear decorated hats and this year did not disappoint. More than two dozen ladies showed off their finery and Shannon Carricarte of Unity took the prize.