Nick Faryna (1950-2014)
Nicholas “Nick” Dean Faryna was born in Warsaw, NY on May 21, 1950 to Edmund and Jeanette Faryna. Ed moved the family to Umatilla, FL in the early 1950s to help his father in their citrus caretaking business. Nick grew up helping his father and started in the industry operating a sprayer for Golden Gem Growers during the summer while in high school. With a strong work ethic he learned from his father, he quickly picked up on grove care proficiencies and by the time he graduated from Umatilla High School he was managing some small groves of his own. While at high school, he also developed a love of music and was a member of the band “The Berkely Five,” under Boss Records, which actually opened for the band, “The Tropics” in 1966.
He started his own business in 1967 with the help of his childhood sweetheart, Sharon, whom he married in 1974. She worked side by side with him in the business primarily as the company bookkeeper, but doing whatever needed to be done to help him throughout his career. They started out managing the family’s 20 acres of citrus and steadily grew the business, which at its peak handled approximately 3,500 acres. His father continued to work with him and together they shared a love of working on equipment that would prove beneficial in his career.
After graduating from Lake Sumter Community College, he went to the University of Florida, but came home every weekend and worked on his caretaking business, graduating in 1973 with a degree in fruit crop production. The major freeze of 1977 prompted many growers to move south, but not Nick. He began to study the potential benefits of micro sprinklers for cold protection, spending countless hours experimenting in his own groves during the 1983 and 1985 freezes monitoring his results so as to not jeopardize other people’s assets if his technique didn’t work. The results were so successful that many groves in the northern area had implemented his technique by the time the 1989 freeze occurred and the area survived one of the harshest freezes in Florida history. The practice is now an industry standard.
He was one of the first to convert “Speed Sprayers” from 500 to 1,000 gallons in order to improve efficiency and allow uniform application with minimum damage to the tree and worked with Monsanto Company to design a shielded, low profile herbicide boom to reduce the drift of herbicides. He also worked closely with IFAS and the USDA on both rootstock and scion trials to provide valuable research for the industry. He established a cooperative relationship with many researchers throughout the state and directly and indirectly supported their efforts for many years, providing valid research results that benefitted the entire industry.
Nick was a long-term planner and thinker. After nearly 30 years of running a grove care and harvesting company, he had prepared carefully for his next step: cutting out the middleman and opening his own packinghouse, which he called Sunsational Citrus. As other packinghouses in the area were closing down, he attended auctions and acquired equipment for his dream, piece by piece, and when he had finally bought everything he needed, it fit perfectly into the space he was converting.
He was known as a compassionate, reserved and honest person who worked tirelessly and cared very much for others, never expecting anything in return. He would work alongside his employees as one of the team, and many of the employees never knew that the man grading fruit next to them was the owner of the packinghouse.
Always an optimist, Nick encouraged others to replant citrus in Lake County after the freezes, struggling to keep the community’s citrus heritage alive.
Never one to say no, Nick was involved in numerous organizations. He was the Vice-President of the Umatilla Growers’ Assn.; a Director of Florida’s Natural Growers and a member of the Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council, the A.M. Whitmore Research Foundation Board, the Lake-Orange County Extension Citrus Advisory Committee and the St. John’s River Water Management District Water Conserv Committee. A University of Florida alumni and Gator Booster, he was also a member of the Diaprepes Task Force, the Citrus Budwood Technical Advisory Committee, and the Rural Enforcement Communication Network that linked growers and deputy sheriffs in Lake County. In addition, he was a valuable resource to the news media as an industry representative, providing an informed growers’ standpoint to the general public whenever necessary.
A true friend and family man, Nick was always there for both. Hall of Fame Chairman, John Jackson, noted “After his family, citrus was his passion…he lived citrus.”