Leo Polopolus sadly passed away in 2015. We keep his profile posted in his memory.
Sometimes you come to farming because it’s in your blood, and sometimes you come to farming because of special circumstances. In Leo Polopolus’ case, it’s both.
Leo grew up in California, where his father was a vegetable farmer. Leo left the farm to pursue his PhD at Berkley, but that didn’t mean he left agriculture behind. He taught Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida for 30 years until a dangerous bout with bladder cancer convinced him to take a closer look at his lifestyle. “My lifestyle was not right,” Leo said. “I was always indoors on my computer writing and publishing. My wife decided to change lifestyles.”
A friend suggested that Leo and his wife go look at some property in High Springs. They liked it and bought it, and that’s how Arcadian Farm was born. But Leo didn’t dive straight into farmerhood-- he kept his day job. “To pay the mortgage I needed to grow crops I could just work on weekends,” Leo said. “My job at the university was still number one.” So Arcadian Farm started out growing just watermelons, a crop that is planted all at once, left to grow for several months, then is harvested all at once.
But that was just the beginning. “I grew for the family at first,” said Leo. “Then I gave it away at church, then I started coming to the farmers market.” These days, Arcadian Farm lies on an 80 acre property, growing mixed vegetables and boasting a large fruit orchard consisting of figs, grapes, apples, blueberries, and peaches. “We have about ten to twelve varieties of peaches so we have some available throughout the whole season,” Leo said.
Just because Leo is retired doesn’t mean he’s just taking it easy. On top of his farming responsibilities, he finds time to play Greek music on clarinet, tenor, alto and soprano sax, and flute. His band, consisting of himself, his daughter and son-in-law, is called Embros. It means to “Go Forward”, which is certainly advice that Leo has lived by.