Rooted in Community
Brenda Gayle Land, Mayo
District 2 Women’s Leadership Chair
“Farm Bureau Women are more than friends, they’re family.”
Brenda Gayle Land is a farm wife, mother, teacher, leader and friend. She was born and raised in Mayo Florida in Lafayette County to parents T.C. and Evelyn Buchanan. As a young child, her family grew corn, tobacco and watermelon for their main crops and raised hogs and beef cattle. An only child, she was ‘daddy’s boy’ and ‘momma’s girl’, and grew up helping her parents work in their fields.
She grew up attending local Farm Bureau meetings where her daddy served on the Lafayette County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and her mother was the local women’s chair. With encouragement from her parents, Brenda Gayle attended Florida State University upon graduating high school where she earned a degree in education. She would go on to teach middle school math for 20 years in Lafayette and Suwannee counties.
If you know Brenda Gayle then chances are you know her husband, Rod. Brenda Gayle and Rod are high school sweethearts who will be married 53 years this August. Rod is a member of the Florida Farm Bureau State Board of Directors and has served as President of Lafayette County Farm Bureau for nearly 40 years.
The Lands lived in Live Oak for a short time in the 1970s where Brenda Gayle taught school and Rod worked for Gold Kist Poultry. When an opportunity arose for them to open a dairy farm with Rod’s brother they moved back to Mayo in 1978. Land Dairy was a staple in the community for 42 years in Lafayette County.
Today, the Land family produces hay and custom picks grass seed for farmers in their community. Brenda Gayle takes great pride in caring for her home garden where she grows peas, corn, squash, potatoes, green beans, okra, leafy greens and rutabagas every year. “We love putting up and eating all of our fresh vegetables,” she said.
The Lands began their involvement in Lafayette County Farm Bureau in the late 1970s. Brenda Gayle took her mother’s place as the local women’s chair and Rod began his first term as president of the county Farm Bureau. The Land’s son, Jason, still works and lives on the family’s farm with his wife and two daughters.
Brenda Gayle describes the role of Lafayette County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee Chair to be very different in the 1970s and 1980s than it is today. “Back then the women attended local meetings and cooked covered dishes for gatherings,” she said. “The committee and its involvement in the community has grown tremendously.”
Former Florida Farm Bureau District 2 Field Representative, Dan Buchanan, encouraged her to run for the District 2 seat on the State FFB Women’s Committee in 2010. Brenda Gayle has served in this role ever since. Counties in her district include Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla.
“Some of my fondest Farm Bureau memories are getting to know and spending time with other women in Ag from around the state,” she said. “Farm Bureau women are more than friends, they’re family.”
The greatest of her many accomplishments as District 2 Chair is the annual Food Check-Out Day presentation at the Tallahassee Ronald McDonald House. Each one of the counties in her district contributes to this outstanding charitable event.
Every February, women from the district gather to prepare an old fashioned, southern meal for the residents of the House and the board of directors coupled with a generous donation of fresh meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables as well as canned goods. Local media covers the event and legislators and legislative aides and other community leaders are also in attendance.
However, due to COVID-19, the last two years has looked a little different. Brenda Gayle explained that the women were not able to prepare the meal as usual, but that didn’t stop them from continuing the tradition of the donation. This year, each county within the district gave $200 to go towards the purchase of a grocery gift card for the House.
“This event is something we and the Tallahassee Ronald McDonald House look forward to every year,” she expressed. “Our ladies spend the year collecting pop tabs for the House to recycle and we make that presentation as well. The funds generated from recycling these aluminum gems help offset the House’s expenses.”
She explained that the women make treat bags for the House in December filled with goodies like candy, gum, lip balm and granola bars. The treat bags are also donated to the local hospital and handed out to children.
Youth agricultural education is dear to Brenda Gayle’s heart and she actively takes part in helping to share information to members in her community. An example of this is the annual Lafayette County Farm Bureau Ag Ventures Day.
Held each year in the spring, Ag Venture’s Day connects local agriculturists with elementary school students and teachers in Mayo. Different commodity stations are set up where volunteers teach students about agriculture. “We have poultry, corn, timber and other commodity stations in rotation and students get to visit for about 15 minutes or so with each,” she said.
“We are lucky to host the event in the backyard of the Lafayette County Farm Bureau office which just so happens to be right across from the elementary school. High school students will attend with their show animals to encourage students to get involved in FFA.”
Opportunities to attend Florida Farm Bureau events like Field to the Hill in Washington, D.C. and Farm Bureau Days in Tallahassee have brought a greater awareness to Brenda Gayle of the issues and challenges farmers and ranchers face every day.
“Farm Bureau is an organization that allows us to have our voices heard,” she said. “Farm Bureau has helped me come out of my comfort zone and speak up for what I feel is important for my community, my state and my country.”
Farmers give their lives to the land and my faith in God is what has sustained me through adversity over the years. As farmers we have to be adaptable and flexible in this ever-changing and unpredictable lifestyle. Faith is how we do it.”
Photo Caption: Brenda Gayle Land is a life-long Lafayette County Farm Bureau (LCFB) member. She is the chair of the LCFB Women’s Committee and holds the seat of District 2 Chair on the State Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Committee where she represents ten counties: Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla.