Multigenerational Family Business-Peace River Packing Company PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families




Peace River Packing Company Family legacies are nothing new in citrus growing. Its traditions are often passed down from generation to generation, each family bringing its own set of values to its particular practice. Out in newly planted groves, among trees barely as tall as his young children, no one understands the honor of carrying on that tradition like Larry Black. He is a partner and serves as manager of the Peace River Packing Company, a citrus cooperative that provides caretaking, harvesting, and fresh fruit packing. As a member of the Florida’s Natural Growers cooperative, they also market a share of their fruit for orange juice.


Larry and his wife, Jenny, manage the business together, overseeing the administrative operations and working with grove caretakers to maintain the health of the citrus trees. With over 150 employees, Peace River Packing remains one of Fort Meade’s major employers, something Larry’s proud to say. “We treat everyone well,” he says. “They can build roots here and grow their families. It’s a nice way of life.”


Larry and Jenny have high hopes to one day pass that treasured way of life on to Varn and Julia. “I would be very excited to see them get into the business,” he says, laughing as Varn greets each of the tractors riding through the groves. Since both children are still under five years old, he acknowledges that there’s plenty of time to allow them to grow into the responsibilities of the family’s sixth generation of growers.


After more than 12 years in the family business, Larry can attest to a much different industry from when his great grandfather began growing in the Fort Meade area in 1928. Greening and canker epidemics have resulted in higher production costs, leading many farms to consolidate to stay efficient. His own groves have felt the impact of these diseases, prompting him to extend his research efforts. He has traveled to South America to research canker control programs and find new ways to protect the natural health of his fruit. He has also put in place aggressive greening control programs to contain the disease.


While such growing challenges have cost the industry some of its farmers, Larry is intent on remaining active in helping it move forward. His efforts include working with local schools to support agricultural programs that foster interest in the management opportunities offered by new industry dynamics. As a company, Peace River Packing sponsors a number of activities within the community, and he also serves on the Board of Directors for Florida Citrus Mutual, the largest citrus grower organization in the country. He and Jenny were recently recognized with a national achievement award from members of the agricultural industry, a positive indication of their future as leaders in a fully integrated citrus growing community.


“I am not afraid of change,” he says, viewing the challenges as an opportunity. “I feel citrus has a bright future in Florida.” An outlook so positive could only come from a man who’s gained not just a family business, but a heritage of integrity and conviction.