A FAMILY TRADITION carrying on the family legacy & forging her own path WITH EMMA REYNOLDS EZELL

By: Megan Winfree

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Emma Reynolds Ezell in citrus grove

Emma Reynolds Ezell, President of Reynzell Ag Company and Triple R Ag Company, is trailblazing her way through the citrus industry. These Companies, Tripe R and Reynzell work to manage citrus groves and harvest the fruit that comes from it. As a seventh generation Floridian and fourth generation citrus grower, she takes a lot of pride in her hometown of Lake Placid, FL, and the agricultural roots it has.

From a young age, Emma learned about the importance of agriculture and natural resources from her grandfather, uncle, and brother.

“It was great knowing my parents were doing something that helped the community and world and we took pride in that”. -Emma Reynolds Ezell

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She recalls memories of growing up in the orange grove, helping her father turn on water pumps to keep trees unfrozen on cold nights, and running up and down the lowboy trailer, where she now watches her three-year old son do the same.

“It’s special to see my son do something I used to love doing at his age, especially with the same piece of equipment”. -Emma Reynolds Ezell

Emma earned her bachelor’s degree in finance at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL. She enjoyed working as a bank teller for two years after high school, while working her way through college at the same time.

Even though she grew up around the industry, it wasn’t until after college that Emma decided to go back to her roots. She decided after getting her degree to go back into the family business, stating “I knew deep down I would always want to come back home and do something in the family business, it’s my family”.

She began working for Reynolds farms and her dad in manual labor, as the Admirer Specialist. In her new role, Emma cared for reset trees. Reset trees are young trees that go in place of trees that have died from diseases, age, etc. She constantly joked “the trees don’t talk back”.

Photo Credit: Megan Winfree

After a few years as the Admirer Specialist, Emma’s uncle, the previous owner of the harvesting company needed some help on the harvesting side. She then stepped in to help coordinate the harvesting, including managing harvesting trucks, where the fruit is going, when to pick, and state regulation. In 2019, Ezell’s uncle and father started to think about retirement, which led Emma to purchase and create Reynzell Harvesting company. Emma talked about how “being a family business, time marches on”.

“I get to be in the field, with the trees, who don’t talk back and, it’s peaceful and quiet and reflective. It can be stressful too when you don’t know what’s going on with the tree and it can’t talk back and tell you what’s going on”. –Emma Reynolds Ezell

In 2018, Emma and her siblings, Amanda Reynolds Murray and Zack Reynolds decided to take over the caretaking side of Reynolds Farms, creating Triple R Ag Company in 2018 as a citrus caretaking company. Citrus caretaking includes managing the groves and growing the actual fruit.

Family is important to not only Emma but her whole family. For the past sixty years, her family has worked together in day-to-day operations and running the family business in citrus and cattle.

Photo Credit: Jason Richards https://unsplash.com/photos/FnnCtrmLkKc

Emma also talked about major issues in the agricultural industry today. She said the biggest issue is humans. She elaborated, “people in the city who don’t understand where their food comes from. The small farmer is losing a little bit of their voice and are getting squeezed out.”

Emma talked about how farmers losing their voice can become tiresome after a while and how it can become easier to sell out to “the man” or a bigger cooperation.

“Trying to be a good neighbor is becoming harder as the one lander owner is consistently gaining more neighbors who didn’t know what we do and then are frustrated by what we do” -Emma Reynolds Ezell

Emma is also highly involved in her community and takes a lot of pride in being able to give back to the industry that raised her. She sits on the Highlands Country Citrus Association Board of Directors and the Natural Resource Advisory Council for Highlands County as well as a member of the Highlands County Farm Bureau.

You might have seen Emma in your local grocery store, as she is represented on the side of Florida’s Natural Orange Juice carton around the state. This honor was given to her through the Farm Bureau Leaders Program, she met someone who worked for Florida’s Natural. During their rebranding, they were looking for more diversity and asked Emma. She said, “it’s kind of all in who you know”.

When asked what her favorite orange juice brand, Emma replied “one straight off the tree and from the source!” She noted that it must be cold and have pulp!

Emma resides in Lake Placid, Florida with her husband, Eric, and two children, Eli and Eloise. Emma plans on continuing the family business, and eventually pass it along to her children. Emma’s love for community and pride in her roots is unmatched, and she is proud to be a part of the Reynolds family.

Photo Credit: Tomi Vadasz https://unsplash.com/photos/628SCbYcPIc

To learn more about the Florida citrus industry and what Emma does, visit https://www.floridacitrus.org!

Photo Credit: Megan Winfree

About the Author: Megan Anne Winfree

Megan Anne Winfree is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Agricultural Communication at the University of Florida. She grew up in the citrus industry and currently working on her master's thesis about Florida citrus branding and marketing.

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Megan Winfree