At the Hillsborough 100 luncheon on April 27 at The Regent (from left to right): Carl Grooms; Dee Dee Grooms and her sister, Denise Alderman; and Kristi Grooms with her fiancé, Derek Barnes. (Photo courtesy of Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District.)

By Linda Chion

At The Regent last month to receive one award, Carl and Dee Dee Grooms went home with recognition for two, including for their induction into the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame.

“That was a great honor, I didn’t see that coming,” said Carl, who earlier, on behalf of his family, accepted the 2022 Outstanding Project of the Year Award from the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District (HSWCD).

The Grooms family owns Fancy Farms in Plant City, and this year it raised its 48th strawberry crop. They also own Fancy Farms Market off Drane Field Road at the Hillsborough/Polk County line, where strawberry smoothies and cookies are among the major draws.

Both honors were recognized at HSWCD’s 2022 Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge Kickoff Luncheon and Awards Ceremony held on April 27 at The Regent in Riverview. In attendance was Michael Gutter, associate dean at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, through which the Florida 4-H program is operated. The hall of fame honor, he said, recognizes “outstanding partners and contributors to the Florida 4-H program.”

The 4-H program provides youth with opportunities to develop skills, accrue knowledge and explore career paths with projects and events on a broad selection of topics ranging from agriculture to robotics to mock government.

Betty Jo Tompkins, HSWCD executive director, said the Grooms family, including son Dustin, and daughter Kristi, were recognized by her organization for sponsoring a Hillsborough 100 strawberry U-pick to benefit youth programs and activities.

She noted as well that the Grooms family for 16 years has sponsored strawberry U-picks in support of Hillsborough County 4-H programs.

“They have always been community servants,” Tompkins said. “Like they say, service is in their DNA.”

As for Carl, “my whole life is a project, and now I get an award for it,” he said. “Especially in agriculture, it’s a project every day and I want to thank my family and my wife. She’s my partner in business and in crime and in everything else.” Carl said that despite being in business since 1974, he’s always learning, and that’s how it should be “in any business you’re in today.”

Visit Fancy Farms at

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