Tallahassee Fla.— Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced Staff Sergeant Dustin Grooms, a fourth-generation farmer and manager of a family-owned strawberry farm in Plant City, as the August selection for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Veteran of the Month. The Veteran of the Month program, established by Commissioner Fried shortly after taking office, recognizes veterans who have excelled in agriculture or in service to fellow Floridians, and honors the contributions that the men and women in uniform have made to our state.
“It’s a privilege to recognize Staff Sergeant Dustin Grooms for his service to our nation and dedication to Florida agriculture,” stated Commissioner Fried. “The leadership and skills which Staff Sergeant Grooms has acquired through years of military service have helped him bring innovative, successful practices to his farm in Plant City. We are proud of Staff Sergeant Grooms’ service and his contributions to our agriculture community — I’m pleased to name him as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ August Veteran of the Month.”
Background: Staff Sergeant Dustin Grooms is a U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve veteran who dedicated eight years to military service. Enlisting in the U.S. Army as a Motor Transport Specialist after graduating high school in 1999, Staff Sergeant Grooms served on various missions, including peacekeeping missions and contraband interdiction during his two deployments to Kosovo. After his service in the U.S. Army, Staff Sergeant Grooms returned to Florida and joined the Army Reserves as a drill sergeant in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Upon finishing his service and leaving the military, he returned to Florida to pursue farming full-time.
A high-resolution photo of Staff Sergeant Dustin Grooms is available for download here.
A fourth-generation farmer from Plant City, Florida, Sergeant Grooms is the Farm Manager of Fancy Farms, Inc., a family-owned strawberry farm which has been operating since 1974. Staff Sergeant Grooms grew up on the farm and helped his father manage it. After his father retired, Staff Sergeant Grooms took over the farm and has increased Fancy Farm’s crop variety to grow blackberries, pickles, okra, peas, peppers, and squash during the summer months.
Staff Sergeant Grooms is an exemplary leader and has received several awards from the agriculture industry, including the This Farm CARES Award, given to farmers by the Florida Farm Bureau for their commitment to protecting the environment, the 4R Advocate Award, a Nutrient Stewardship award for implementing fertilizer management practices to increase production and reduce environmental impact, and the Hillsborough County Young Farmer of the Year Award. He is also a member of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.