IT HAS BEEN ABOUT A CENTURY since Sam Astin ventured from South Georgia to Plant City and began planting the seeds for one of Central Florida’s most successful and innovative farms.
Over the past 100 years, what started as a small feed store and a few acres of land has grown to become Astin Farms, with more than 1,700 acres of strawberry and blueberry fields producing more than 40 million pounds of fruit each season. In addition to Astin Strawberry Exchange offHolloway Road in Plant City, the family-owned company runs Astin Family Farms in Wimauma and recently opened Astin Plant Company in West Jefferson, North Carolina. That farm produces the ground stock for strawberries, which is then grown and cultivated in Plant City.
From these farms, the company grows and harvests strawberries, blueberries and watermelon sold across the United States and Canada. During the winter and spring, consumers can find their products stocked in Central Florida grocery stores.
Astin Farms now runs under the direction of Sam Astin III, the grandson of Sam Astin Sr., who officially opened the farm in 1923, then selling mostly corn, pole beans and a few strawberries. His original two-room, wood-frame house still stands at the Plant City farm.
Assisting Astin III in running Astin Farms and carrying on the agrarian family tradition are his Plant City-born daughters — Payton Astin, 23, marketing director; Madison Astin, 26, farm manager; and Bailey Astin, 20, farmhand assistant.
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