Stein clan named ‘Farm Family of the Year’

BELLE GLADE — Sonny and Cheryl Stein and their family have been honored as the Western Palm Beach County Farm Family of the Year. They received their award Nov. 12 at the annual meeting of the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.

“Sonny comes from a long line of farmers there in the Glades area, going back to his father and grandfather,” said Keith Wedgworth, president of the bureau.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of Cheryl Stein
The Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau’s 2019 Farm Family of the Year: from left, daughter Christa, Mrs. Stein, Mr. Stein, daughter Stephanie Stein Johns and her husband, Flint; front row, grandchildren Brantley, Judson and Hannah Kate Johns.

He’s a hardworking grower … they grow sugar cane. But he’s also the kind of guy that gives back to the community, serving on multiple boards and different organizations, from the Housing Authority to different water boards around our area. He’s a member of Belle Glade Rotary Club, was past president; but he also spearheads our fundraiser of the year, and we just got done with that last night,” he said in a phone interview Friday, Nov. 22.

“It was the Belle Glade Turkey Shoot, where over two nights we give out about 300 Butterball turkeys to the winners of those rounds. But everything that we raise those two nights, we turn around and give out to scholarships and to organizations that need money out in the Glades area. And he’s the one who is the spearhead of that whole fundraiser. So we just thought it was fitting and the right time to have Sonny and Cheryl be the Farm Family of the Year.”

Mr. Wedgworth said the organization has been giving out this award for over 30 years.

Eva Webb, the District 8 field representative for the Florida Farm Bureau, knows a bit about the family’s history, having been well acquainted with Mr. Stein’s father. She said his grandparents immigrated from Latvia “because they were poor and wanted to come where they wouldn’t be like serfs and live the way that they were. They wanted the opportunity to farm their own land, to own their own property, and they actually settled not in Florida to begin with.”

Ms. Webb went on: “I knew the father and I know Sonny very well. They are just like a legacy for the Glades. They are one of the most respected families in the EAA (Everglades Agricultural Area). The whole family, they’re just a… I would say, they’re like a treasure. They are so deserving.”
Both Sonny and Cheryl’s families were pioneer farming families in the Glades area of Palm Beach County. Sonny’s family came to the Glades in 1914, Cheryl’s in 1918.

“He’s so much like his father was. When you say ‘Stein,’ you automatically think of integrity and honesty, and just love of community and family. I mean, he’s done so much for the area,” said Ms. Webb.

Sonny has been farm manager of Stein Sugar Farms since 1978. He is a member of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida Board of Directors, the Everglades Area Agricultural Environmental Protection District (EAAEPD) and the Belle Glade Housing Authority boards; and is a member and Paul Harris Fellow of the Belle Glade Rotary Club. Mr. Stein is a past board member of Glades Day School and the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce. He was a coach for many years for the Little League Baseball organization in Belle Glade. In his free time, Mr. Stein enjoys hunting and fishing.

Mrs. Stein has been an elementary and middle school teacher for 35 years. Cheryl is currently director of the Lawrence E. Will Museum in Belle Glade, chairwoman of the Black Gold Jubilee Committee and a member of the Glades Art Group under the direction of Ann Tyler.

She was very involved in the activities her daughters were taking part in while growing up, including as a leader of Brownies and Girl Scouts troops, coaching Pee Wee Football Cheerleading and Lassie League Softball teams. She enjoys traveling, fishing, baking and gardening.

Mr. and Mrs. Stein are members of the Belle Glade Alliance Church. They have two daughters, Stephanie and Christa, and three grandchildren; Brantley, Hannah Kate and Judson.

They were high school sweethearts and married in 1979.

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