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Let Land Be Land

What is it about Florida that attracts so many visitors and ultimately residents? Simply put, the weather. Roughly 1200 residents are moving to Florida per day. Besides being 3 ½ months obnoxiously hot and humid, Florida is the spot of choice for most retirees. In South Lake County, weather is superseded by rolling hills, plentiful lakes and 100 miles from any potential coastline hurricane. So where do we put our new residents? We give them what they want – mansions, tweezer manicured yards, perfectly edged walkways. We give them the premiere Florida status of proper hedge shape, level grass and a feeling of control. Why are we so obsessed with controlling nature?

In 2004, Lake County placed a Public Lands Acquisition Referendum on the ballot for voters to decide whether to place land aside for parks or not. The voters resoundingly approved the measure. Land was bought with a small millage from every citizen and in the process, Lake Hiawatha Preserve was obtained. Today we have a gathering spot for Park Run on Saturday mornings, a place for Clermont Tai Chi to celebrate International Tai Chi Day, a park for the City of Clermont to celebrate Earth Day and a daily forever trail for walkers, bikers, hikers, and one-wheelers to enjoy Florida’s outdoors, not to mention the only Frisbee golf course in South Lake County. Lake Hiawatha Preserve has become not only a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, it is an example of how a three-way partnership works. Residents of Lake County set aside tax revenue for the County to purchase and the City of Clermont to maintain. Citizen’s funded, Lake County facilitated and Clermont maintained.

This year’s ballot will have another Public Lands Acquisition Referendum. The language will be similar. A Lake Hiawatha Preserve just may be in the works or possibly land acquisition for the purpose of using land as land.  That’s right. How about we put land aside for observation, conservation, and preservation? Allowing it to resemble the land Ponce De Leon found when he discovered Florida?

Here On The Farm, my 7 acre, 14 garden teaching tool for new gardeners and farmers, I leave land untouched for rewilding. Rewilding means bringing land back to its original form. Leaving land to be land and in doing so recharging our water capability, allowing native plants and animals to live in their natural habitat and as a farmer, rewilding ultimately keeps the natives away from my seasonal crops which increases my yield. Let land be land. So, what is the benefit of allowing land to be land? 

Rewilding land feeds the native wildlife. It allows native plants to prosper and, it brings balance to nature and human co-existence.

Why create a balance with nature and humans you ask? Because we cannot fertilize ourselves to a longer life, because we cannot grow development forever, because we cannot live in nature if we don’t respect nature. Allowing nature to be nature means we get out of her way. We allow nature to oxygenate us, recharge our drinking water, help us find peace and purpose and we appreciate the land just for being land.

Let’s let land be land.


Banks standing and smiling for a headshot in a suit with arms crossed

Banks Helfrich

Candidate for Florida House,
District 25

As a native Floridian, I love this state. As a resident of South Lake County, I love farming and teaching sustainability to this community. As a Candidate for State House, I love finding solutions to the issues of our time.

I'm With Banks!

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