With over two decades of successful farming, it’s hard to believe our founder, Jim Dezell, began his career in the 1980’s in banking and real estate development. After a decade of long hours, endless meetings, and office politics starting to weigh heavy on him – by 1995 he was ready for a change. He knew there had to be a way to feel more fulfilled everyday, but how he’d break away was a mystery. At the time, the only thing Jim knew for certain was that he wanted to be his own boss – and create his own destiny.
Then one day in 1996, Jim was at the grocery store armed with a list from from Lisa (his now wife), and got stuck in the herb section. He didn’t quite make it home with everything Lisa requested, but he figured something out: nearly all the herbs were low quality, high price, and imported! He knew there had to be a better way. Done with meetings and corporate life, he decided to take the leap into agriculture. He didn’t have any farming experience, and was on a shoestring budget, but Jim had a mission: deliver a premium local product at a fair price.
A few short months later he purchased 8 acres of undeveloped farmland that once stood as an orange grove. Fueled by his love for the outdoors, building things, and working with his hands, he cleared the land and built four green houses. Before he knew it, Florida Fresh Herbs, one of the first hydroponic growers of arugula and basil in the United States, was born.
Today our operation has expanded exponentially with 43 greenhouses, over 175,000 square feet of growing space, and products reaching customers up and down the East Coast through Publix, wholesale, and of course, at Flamingo Road Nursery and farmer’s market.
What Makes FFH Different?
After a little trial and error with fertilizer modifications and farming practices, it soon became apparent Jim’s Hydroponic Arugula and Hydroponic Basil were of substantially higher quality than anything else available on the market. Beyond the amazing taste, Florida Fresh Herbs basil has a higher oil content, which gives it a rich, delicious flavor that lets consumers use 100% of the basil leaf – not just the tips. Additionally, being hydroponic growers, our products are much cleaner than our competitors growing in the the field. With one taste, it’s easy to see how our hydroponic arugula and basil have set the standard in the industry, pleasing chefs everywhere and winning national awards.
Going Beyond Herbs
Over the years, Jim started growing much more than herbs, and started inviting the public to the farm – almost immediately, he fell in love with retail and people side of the business. Soon it became more than the farm could handle, and he eyed a property down the road, where a short time later in 2005, Flamingo Road Nursery was born. Less than a mile away from Florida Fresh Herbs, Flamingo Road Nursery has taken on it’s own life as a Garden Center, Farmer’s Market, Bonsai Center – and host of the largest Fall Festival in South Florida. Flamingo is open 7 days a week and offers everything from bbq and breakfast tacos on the weekend, to year round seasonal events.
Flamingo Road Nursery lets families and the next generation of gardeners and farmers enjoy all the growing life has to offer, and frequent educational tours to schools make community outreach an important part of the mission. From the fall festival with pumpkins, apple cider and hayrides, to picking the perfect Christmas tree for the holidays, Flamingo has become a go-to South Florida family destination for enjoying time outdoors and learning about the growing life.
Turning Over a New Leaf
With the success of Flamingo Road Nursery, and a desire to spend more time enjoying family, in 2016 Jim started looking for a partner, and a few months later met our new President, Michael Peter. Also an avid outdoorsman, Michael was always been interested in new-age food growing and hydroponics, but never thought it would be a career – until he met Jim. Both Texas Longhorns who came from backgrounds in real estate, they knew it was meant to be from the first day, and in May of 2017 Jim handed day-to-day operations over to the next generation. As President, Michael is leading a major investment and expansion campaign, which will also include the construction of a world class kombucha brewery. We are now looking forward to updated facilities, increased growing capacity, and providing our customers with even higher quality products that look, feel, and taste better than anything else on the market. That’s what happens when you’re grown with love in Davie, FL.