Are you aware of the proposed Peninsula bay development in Cortez?

Whiting Preston wants to develop the pristine 360 acres that is home to manatee fruit greenhouses which has been in his family for over a century.

I lease a small piece of land on Whiting Preston’s property that is slated to be developed for Peninsula Bay. I run a small rare plant nursery out of one of the greenhouses.

I have been working my whole life to bring my dream of growing plants for a living to fruition.

I have spent the past two years working over 70 hours a week, happily laboring to make sure my plants are healthy, my customers are happy, and my business is growing. Some of my plants are extinct in the wild; one is a cactus species found only from Longboat Key to Siesta Key. I own the last remaining plant found in the wild – rescued from a site that was being bulldozed.

I work until midnight often, and these are my favorite times. I see coyotes, hear whippoorwills, listen to the love songs of Great Horned Owls and see the ballet of bats in the moonlight. During the day, I hear ibis mumble to each other as they pick bugs out of the grass, and I watch worried osprey parents coach their fledglings in “flight school.” I greet the native green tree frogs that live in my ferns.

This is the last unspoiled ecosystem large enough to support such incredible diversity in Cortez. The land is old, important, and I love it more than anything. I don’t see the $620 million dollar price tag, because none of this can ever be replaced no matter how much money you have.

When I saw the commission approval for Peninsula Bay, my heart broke into a hundred pieces. My voice, the voice of my plants, the voices of all the creatures that live there….we are nothing compared to that price tag. I know. But if I never said a word…then the shame is on me.

Every customer that visits is in shock that this treasure still exists. They all say they’ve never seen that much wildlife in any of the local preserves.

I am just a lowly grower of endangered plants, one person in one greenhouse, speaking for a million unheard voices. Please, if there’s anything you can do, please help stop Peninsula Bay and preserve the last piece of old Florida that exists in this area. Please. I am not afraid of hard work and I will do whatever it takes to save this land.


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