Back On The Family Farm
Meet Brit Hogan, an enterprising financial planner who traded her business suit for blue jeans
Fall and winter are the seasons to look for fresh fruits and vegetables from Birdie Hogan Farm, which provides produce to such restaurants as Ocean Grill and Citrus Grillhouse.
With her two-year old son, Alfie, strapped to her back, blonde-haired, green-eyed Brit (short for “Britain”) Hogan is pounding tomato plant support stakes into the rich dark soil of her 172-acre family farm on 66th Avenue SW, just south of Oslo. “That’s 50 stakes so far,” she says as she takes a break to mop her brow and chat with a visitor. After a pause she tucks her scarf back into her pocket, smiles broadly and adds, “Just another hundred more to go.”
Although the sun is beating down and she has a full day of farm labor ahead of her, Brit is not complaining. As she frees Alfie from her back and lets him wander down the row of recently planted Bella Rosa tomatoes, one of her farm’s best sellers, she explains, “Farming is in my blood. I’m a fourth-generation farmer; my great-grandfather came to Vero to farm tomatoes in 1918.” She keeps an eye on Alfie as an Eastern whip-poor-will soars overhead and begins serenading us. Says Brit, “This is where I feel most at home.”
While she may boast a rich legacy in farming and looks every inch the seasoned farmer, from her knee-high, green PVC farm boots to overalls to her tight blue cap, Brit, 35, is a relative newcomer to full-time farming. “We grew up in town, near Royal Palm, and came out here to the farm on weekends,” she remembers. “We’d say we were ‘going out west’ and there was only a small barn and greenhouse here back then. But we always had a large garden at home and raised our own vegetables and produce. That’s where I learned to appreciate homegrown food.” Her father, Doyle, raised cattle and citrus on the family’s land and also worked as a charter fisherman.
After earning a degree in economics and finance at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University, Brit returned to Vero Beach, where she joined Merrill Lynch as a certified financial planner. But she never lost her urge to grow her own food and always tended her home garden. “I loved my job, but eventually I began dreaming about trading in my desk for a tractor and my business suit and heels for jeans and work boots,” she explains.