Blake Whisenant’s primary goal in agriculture was always to be good to the land. Through his mentoring, his work with universities and organizations, or his teachings to family and friends at the EarthBox Research and Garden Center – Blake’s love for the environment did not go unnoticed. He always made it a priority to spread the word of protecting our valuable soil and water resources. In addition, he strived to make it easier for everyone to garden. Combining his mission to conserve resources and bring a garden to every doorstop, he invented a revolutionary growing system – the EarthBox®. His legacy will surely live on through every tomato, cucumber, eggplant, pepper, and other vegetables and fruits grown in an EarthBox®.
His quote, "I knew there had to be a better way for the average person to enjoy the pride of growing their own produce without any special skills or time-consuming maintenance. My EarthBox® gardening system fills that need: an easy way for people of all ages to truly enjoy gardening. To Your Gardening Success!" hits close to home. Whether you knew him personally or not, everyone, we’re sure, has a tremendous amount of gratitude for his dedication. Simply put, he made it possible for so many people to enjoy homegrown veggies.
Robert “Blake” Whisenant, along with his children and grandchildren, owned and operated the EarthBox Research and Garden Center at the family’s 2,000-acre tomato, citrus, and cattle ranch—Whisenant Farms in Manatee County, Florida; where he was a lifelong resident and was even honored as a Manatee County Distinguished Citizen. Blake came from a family whose agricultural legacy stretches back to the turn of the last century—the Whisenants have been growing tomatoes commercially since 1901. Both Blake and his father are honored in the Manatee County Agriculture Hall of Fame; and Blake was inducted to the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, acknowledged as a fine farmer and conservationist.
Blake came up with the EarthBox® concept in the late 1980s and began working with agricultural engineers at his alma mater, the University of Florida. The growing system’s development took off in 1992, when weather associated with Hurricane Andrew dumped 19 inches of rain on Whisenant Farms and wiped out their entire tomato crop. Blake used this experience, his knowledge of farming, and his determination to bring his container gardening concept with primitive wooden prototypes to fruition in 1994 by manufacturing them in high-grade plastic. The EarthBox® gardening system was born. Through years of trial and error, Blake was able to determine the ideal scientific properties and principles, make it cost effective, and user-friendly. Blake’s work with the EarthBox® included his own experiments with many crop varieties—even dwarf citrus trees!
In 1996, Blake opened his research center to the public, where he held free planting classes twice a week and sold his invention.Sadly, Blake passed away on February 14, 2018 at the age of 88 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. The EarthBox® gardening system is Blake’s legacy, a product of a lifelong dream and years of diligent research. Blake influenced and guided thousands of dedicated gardeners and customers over the years—not just in his classes, but all over the world. We have the EarthBox® gardening system today because of his dedication and determination; a commercial farmer whose greatest passion was to share agriculture with others.
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