Agriculture in the Early Days

The area of South Florida that is now Broward County was sparsely populated for much of the 19th century. It was not until Henry Flagler brought the Florida East Coast Railway south from West Palm Beach to Miami in 1896 that reliable and relatively inexpensive transportation into the region was available. A significant portion of early Broward County settlers came to farm. Even those who had other occupations usually engaged in some kind of agricultural pursuit on the side.

One of the first major crops was pineapples, but it quickly became apparent that more money could be made by growing winter vegetables and, to a lesser extent, citrus. By the first decade of the 20th century, early settlers had cleared land for green beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant and other produce. On higher ground citrus groves were established.

Clearing the land was an arduous task. It was most often accomplished without mechanical help; mules and dynamite were the tools of choice. Some farmers were able to amass sizable acreage and became prosperous from their agricultural lands. Today many of these early farmers are memorialized in the names of roadways throughout Broward County: Lyons Road, Wiles Road, Sample Road, Viele Road, Stirling Road, McNab Road and Griffin Road, to name just a few. In the 1950s and 1960s, much of the farmland in Broward County was sold for commercial and residential development.

by Dan Hobby, Executive Director, Pompano Beach Historical Society