Bramble Creek Farms is a family-owned operation that began in 2003 when Gene and Ann Altman successfully grew their first crop of thornless blackberries.  Since then, they have expanded and now grow u- pick blackberries on 1.5 acres as well as figs and artichokes.  It is their goal to provide a U-Pick experience where families can come out to the farm and have a meaningful experience. 

With Gene’s background working for the Southwest Florida Water Management District in the Engineering Section developing Best Management Practice (BMP) projects and flood maps, implementing BMPs to protect his land and the water resources that flow freely throughout it was a natural fit.  In each of the rows of trellised blackberries and figs, BMPs such as drip irrigation, plastic mulch ground cover, soil moisture probes and weather stations all work together to reduce overall water use.  These are BMPs that are visible to visitors coming to pick blackberries during the season. 

But, what they won’t see are all of the BMPs and efforts taken during all other parts of the year.  BMPs such as soil sampling and leaf analyses’ identify nutrient needs for each commodity grown and allow the Altman’s to only apply fertilizer when needed and also improve soil health.  Buffers and wetland exclusions help reduce soil erosion around sensitive areas as well. 

What is most impressive about their BMP program is the set of BMPs they have implemented to protect water quality.  Water flows onto their farm from multiple other residences and properties.  The Altman’s feel a sense of responsibility towards ensuring that the water re-entering the aquifer and groundwater supply is cleaner than when it first entered their farm.  Before water can leave their farm it must first pass through a series of grass swales, berms, vegetative buffers and grade stabilization structures.  

The Altman’s have gone above and beyond to protect local natural resources by implementing these BMPs because they feel agricultural producers are the original environmentalists and are meant to protect our natural resources for current and future generations.

Both Gene and Ann are active in their local community. Ann has recently retired from a long career with the school district and now volunteers her time and talent at her grandson’s school. Outside his position at Southwest Florida Water Management District, Gene is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and actively participates in monthly Ag Alliance meetings in Citrus and Sumter Counties, Farm City annual events and coordinates research with University of Florida professors. Both Gene and Ann are proud Farm Bureau members as well.

Florida Farm Bureau Federation is proud to award a 2018 CARES designation and sign to Gene and Ann Altman for their dedication in being outstanding environmental stewards.