ahe Sa Towns of
Application of the Sondeo Methodology and the Analysis of
Worthington Springs, Brooker, and LaCrosse
Dr. Peter Hildebrand
March 1, 1996
Presented by: Heather McIlvaine-Newsad, Jonathan Moscatello,
Jigna Thakore, Heisil Villalobos
A Sondeo was carried out to assess general changes through time within the towns
of Worthington Springs, LaCrosse, and Brooker in North Florida. In addition to examining
individual towns, a further comparison among the towns was also carried out. In this paper the
history, community structure, infrastructure, and agricultural status are appraised and contrasted
for each of the towns. The conclusion incorporates each of these aspects of the towns and
derives the trends in growth and sustainability unique to each.
Worthington Springs, LaCrosse, and Brooker are small towns within 8 miles of each
other and located in Union, Alachua, and Bradford Counties respectively. Union County and
Bradford County share a common origin; they were both part of a much larger New River
County formed in 1858. In 1861, New River County divided into Baker and Bradford Counties.
At that time, Bradford County included the territory of current Union County as well as the
Bradford County area. Due to dispute over county seat, Union County split from Bradford
County in 1921, becoming the 63rd and smallest county in Florida.
Although all of the towns were settled by early 1900s, Worthington springs seems to be
the oldest among the three. Samuel Worthington moved from South Carolina to the Worthington
Springs area around 1821 and began to farm cotton. The town was established in 1825 and
named after William G.D. Worthington of Maryland, Acting Governor of East Florida. Around
the mid-1800s Samuel's sons found a sulfur spring by the Santa Fe river which made
Worthington Springs a booming tourist spot by the end of the century. A very important factor
in the early development of all three of the towns was the railroad. In 1880s, Georgia Southern
& Florida Railroad was built from Palatka to Valdosta, GA, and the Atlantic Coast Line was
build from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg. In Brooker, the railroad aided in launching the
turpentine industry in 1890s. The railroad brought the post office to Worthington Springs in
1882 as well as the tourist rush. By 1900, Worthington Springs had 3 or 4 hotels, a Spring
House, a concrete sulfur spring pool, and a dance pavilion with an automatic piano. The early
1900s were prosperous years for Brooker and Worthington Springs. The turpentine industry was
profitable in Brooker and family homesteads were being established. In Worthington Springs,
farmers had started the "Florida Cotton Empire." Agricultural and tourist wealth had brought a
cotton gin, grist mill, five stores, and Delco lights for outdoors in Worthington Springs.
The economic success of Worthington Springs was short-lived. By 1920s, four hotels
burned down, the boll weevil destroyed the cotton empire, and the concrete bottom of the sulfur
pool dropped. In Brooker, the turpentine industry began to decline, but tung oil production
began to emerge. The Depression of the 1930s was harmful to all the communities. The last
hotel burned down in Worthington Springs and the tourist flow ceased; agriculture remained a
primary means of subsistence during this time. LaCrosse and Brooker survived with market
produce during the Depression Era. In Brooker the turpentine industry ceased but tung oil
Since the 1930s, all three towns have had relatively slow economies. Although several
attempts were made at reviving the tourist flow in Worthington Springs, the sulfur springs finally
stopped bubbling in 1956. The community continued to rely on agriculture for a living. It was
incorporated as a municipality in 1961. In Brooker, the tung oil industry declined by the 1960s,
but the gas transmission plant started employing the town dwellers. Market produce began to
decline in Brooker by the 1970s. In LaCrosse, boat manufacturing began in the 1970s, and
market produce remained a primary means of subsistence until present. An important
determinant in the economies of all three towns was the construction of the corrections
institutions in Union and Bradford Counties. As profit from agriculture declined in the 1980s,
the prison became the largest employer of the labor force, especially in Worthington Springs.
Timber and trucking industries also became important in Worthington Springs during the 1980s.
In the 1990s building construction and real estate increased in Worthington Springs, perhaps it
was an attractive place to live due to its history. LaCrosse maintains boat manufacturing and
market produce, although the economy continues to decline. Agriculture has declined in Brooker
and most of the town dwellers work in the nearby cities; its economic growth has reached a
This section will attempt to synthesize and compare information concerning the
communities of Brooker, LaCrosse, and Worthington Springs. As an introduction, we will
examine the infra-structural elements or physical layouts of the three communities.
The infra-structural elements in Brooker consist of several churches, an elementary and
secondary school, one housing development that consists of various apartment buildings and a
sub-division with 1-2 acre lots for housing construction, an active railroad which passes through
town, a post office, a recycling station, a riding club, and a small grocery. The presence of the
elementary and secondary school in Brooker is its most significant feature. Because of the
school, there is a "town center" per se. Both of these features are missing in the towns of
LaCrosse and Worthington Springs. The residents of Brooker indicate that they enjoy living in
the community. They sighted Brooker as being a safe place to live and eluded to a positive
image of community. However, in regard to the sense of community, we encountered some
discrepancies in the information. It seems that those residents who mentioned a good sense of
community were mainly upper class, white residents whose families had lived there for several
generations. This indicates the evidence of possible socio-economic dissension within the
community. Also important to note, was reference to Brooker as a "bedroom" community for
Gainesville and other urban areas. This can be quantified by examining the occupations of
residents of Brooker. Many of them mentioned they worked outside of Brooker either in the
nearby prison system or even as far away as Jacksonville. Few persons indicated that they were
currently involved in agriculture.
In comparison, employment opportunities in LaCrosse indicated involvement, albeit
partial, in agriculture. Many individuals interviewed in LaCrosse were full-time or part-time
farmers. The infrastructural components of LaCrosse were not drastically different from those of
Brooker. In addition to those elements mentioned in the infrastructure of Brooker, LaCrosse
contains a packing house for vegetables, a gas station, a used car dealership, a volunteer fire and
rescue station, and a boat manufacturing business on the outskirts of town. The most distinctive
infrastructural difference between Brooker and LaCrosse is the school.
Regarding the sense of community, again the response was mixed along socio-economic
lines. In LaCrosse there appears to be an added racial element. Among those interviewed in
LaCrosse who did not have a positive sense of community, the majority were African-American.
These individuals also indicated discontent with government regulation pertaining to farming and
social issues. They also implied, in contrast to Brooker, a aversion for new residents moving into
The third and final community, Worthington Springs, while larger in population than
either Brooker or LaCrosse, shares many of the same characteristics. In addition to those above
mentioned infrastructural elements shared with Brooker and LaCrosse, Worthington Springs
supports a relatively new community center, a video store, a trucking company, a lumber yard, a
feed and western-clothing store, a community recreational park, and a civic center which serves
as a meeting place for the communities older female residents. Unlike the other two
communities, agriculture plays a greater role in the livelihood of the town. While there appears
to have been a decrease in full-time farmers, many of the commercial ventures are closely related
to agriculture. Also unlike the other two communities, Worthington Springs has a long and very
publicized history revolving around the once productive sulfur springs. It is perhaps due to this
history that many families have stayed in the area for generations. Residents who had
previously moved away appear to be returning, especially during their retirement years. The
postmistress confirmed this by noting an increase in the number of post office boxes leased over
the last few years. Residents stated that Worthington Springs is a nice, quiet, and safe place to
live. While some individuals indicated that they did not approve of the new sub-developments in
the west-end of town, the over all general feeling concerning new residents was positive.
In conclusion, all three communities appear to be making a transition from their former
economic livelihoods (whether they were agriculturally based or not), into "bedroom"
communities. The inhabitants of these communities are faced with limited job opportunities
within their respective communities and residents are forced to look elsewhere for work. Of the
three, Worthington Springs appears to be the only one growing in population. The populations
of both Brooker and LaCrosse appear to be stable. While there may be individuals leaving for
other locations, it appears that an equal number of people are either returning to the area or
moving in for the first time. While both Brooker and Worthington Springs support community
activities such as annual Halloween parades and arts and crafts sales, Brooker seems to have a
more cohesive sense of community. This may be a result of the school being physically located
in the community.
The communities have gone through big infrastructure changes in relation to their
transportation system. There used to be a railroad that linked Brooker, LaCrosse, and
Worthington Springs. The train stopped in all three communities. Today, it does not stop in any
of them. Infrastructure changes such as the building of major highways and interstate roads that
bypass these towns, have led in part to the collapse of some of the local business activities and
the social organizations of these communities. Although Worthington Springs, Brooker,
and LaCrosse are small rural communities, they have some basic public and private services and
institutions that reflect community quality of life, social organization, and self-sufficiency.
Worthington Springs has a small civic center, a few churches, a recycling center, and a new
community center, and post office. These buildings, located in the center of the town, are closely
situated. For recreation, there is a tennis court, a video store, and the Spring Saloon (which
serves alcoholic beverages). Other components of the town are a gas station, a clothing store,
and a farm supply store. Also, the sulfur springs section on one side of the river functions as a
recreational area. These businesses are the main centers for information exchange in the
community. It is important to note that there is no school or restaurant in Worthington Springs,
or LaCrosse. Table 1 shows a comparison of the infrastructure, organization services and other
variables between the three communities.
LaCrosse also has a post office, a fire department and several churches. This community
has three vegetable packing houses, a used car dealership, a gas station, a food store, a hair care
store and a night club. Brooker has similar public and private services, with the additional
presence of the an elementary and secondary school and a small grocery store. These businesses
provide jobs for part of the population. Although, there is not a school or a restaurant in
Worthington Springs, people do not complain about a lack of services. People understand and
accept that this is a small community and are accustomed to sending their children to other
schools and travel to the surrounding towns like Lake City, if they want to go out for a dinner.
Many of the industries /businesses upon which these towns were built have come and
gone. In the three communities people reported a decline in community services and facilities.
They commented on the communities having been more cohesive in the past. In Brooker and
LaCrosse, local people mentioned that there used to be two grocery stores and a restaurant
(Brooker even had a movie screen). In Worthington Springs, people mentioned the recent
endeavor of a small restaurant that did not succeed. For these reasons, local people say the
heyday of these towns is past. However, others claim new growth. In particular, some small
businesses are doing well. There are new businesses starting in each of the communities. Many
of them fail or close down, but others (beauty salons in Brooker) are managing to stay afloat. In
fact, there are some new developments in Worthington Springs such as new housing
construction, and a trailer-park area.
In general there are fewer full-time farmers and an increase of farmers with off-farm jobs.
Off-farm jobs seem to be the farmers' strategy to continue farming their land. Farming has
become less profitable and self-sufficient, leading to an increased number of farmers who have to
look for new employment alternatives. Farmers consider farming worthwhile if they can just pay
the bills and keep their land. The same trend is reported in LaCrosse and in Brooker. Many
small farmers in the area reported receiving Medicare, Social Security, and other forms of
government assistance. In Brooker people consider farming part of their community history.
They relate their past with agriculture.
Although, the number of acres under farm production has not changed much, there is a
shift in the intensity of agriculture. There are significant differences among farmers in terms of
their motivations, resources, and commitments of their time and energy to agriculture. Today,
farmers produce crops that require less labor and management, in order to combine these
activities with their off-farm jobs. Livestock, constituted mainly of beef cattle, hogs and some
horses, is an important production activity in all three communities. Timber production has also
become the basis for many farms, especially in Brooker and Worthington Springs. Some
farmers specialize in Christmas tree production. Few farmers combine crop with livestock
production on their farm.
Vegetable production is very important in LaCrosse due to the good soils and the
proximity of the packing houses. Farmers in LaCrosse usually plan their vegetable production
activities jointly in relation to the packing houses. The main crops in the LaCrosse area are
strawberries, onions, corn, watermelons, potatoes and other vegetables such as cucumber, okra
and squash. Farmers also produce timber and hay ($25/round bale). The value of pine timber is
as profitable as $2000/acre. Profits are low for cattle, and even large farms are loosing money.
Farm sizes in these communities vary from 15 to 100 acres for small farmers and from
100 to 300 acres in larger farmers. Some farmers also rent out part of their land to make a living.
Farmers hire labor during the seasonal periods of vegetable production in the fall and summer.
During the harvesting and packing periods a large number of migrant workers come to LaCrosse
to work in the vegetables fields. In Worthington Springs, most of the labor comes from the same
community or neighboring communities.
Apparently, there is not a big problem with market availability in the communities.
Farmers in Worthington Springs send their agricultural products like corn and tobacco to Lake
City. In LaCrosse, the packing houses absorb the local production. Farmers do not consider that
the farmer cooperative packing house is bringing much benefit to the community. To become a
member costs a considerable amount of money, therefore many farmers are unable to access this
organization. This cooperative is used mostly to obtain insurance benefits. Farmers mentioned
that large corporations and big land owners dominate the agricultural market leaving small
farmers with no chance to compete. In LaCrosse, small-farmers who are predominantly African-
American, report some discomfort with the distribution of land and with the government
regulations in this community. Farmers complain that government regulation need to be changed
in order for them to have more opportunities and access to resources for increased farm
production. In LaCrosse there is a negative attitude toward new residents coming to the town
and toward hired local labor in agriculture. There are also some complaints about noise, noxious
smells, and chemical spray application among local people in LaCrosse.
Farmers' level of education does not seem to be a problem. Farmers appear to transmit
their agricultural knowledge to the new generations. For this reason, knowledge in agricultural
production is not a problem. Many of them have good jobs in the community (in the school), in
construction, government jobs (the state correctional institution) while others work in Gainesville
(day care centers, secretaries, etc.). Farmers do not report much help from the Extension Service.
Water, land, capital, and infrastructure do not seem to be limiting to agricultural production in
these communities. On the other hand, soil conditions, labor availability, cash flow, and time
seem to be more limiting factors for agricultural production
On the whole, there is a positive attitude toward the continuation of farming. Farmers
want to continue farming, keep their land, and produce in some way. Some farmers have off-
farm jobs that enable them to support this activity. After all, there is a general idea that small
farmers only continue in this activity because they love it, they have the land, and want to keep it
and use it. Many farmers also grow or raise just enough animals or crops to support their farm
life by getting an agricultural assessment to lower their taxes. Farmers considers that a good
driving force for moving to Worthington Springs is the lower cost of land and flexibility in taxes
and regulations. Local people report some division of land by their parents in order to leave land
for inheritance for their sons or daughters. Some of these small areas of land have been sold to
new residents. New comers to farming are from the cities and usually have different goals than
the older farming families. Usually they like the notion of living in the country while still being
close to a city. Thus, a continued decline in the number of full-time farmers in these rural
communities may be noted.
Table 1: Comparison of some communities variables among Worthington Springs, Brooker and
COMMUNITY- WORTHINGTON BROKER LaCrosse
VARIABLES I SPRINGS
INFRA- Two Churches, Public Community Churches, Fire station, Packing House, Gas Station,
STRUCTURE, Center, Civic Center, Gas Station, Elementary & Secondary Post Office, Boat Factory, Car
ORGANIZATION, Grocery/Quickie Mart, Video Store, School, Apartments, Town Dealer, Quickie Mart,
SERVICES New Post Office, Trucking Co., Center, Post Office, Rail Line, Churches, Fire-First Aid
Lumber Yard, Feed And Saddle Farmers Board, Recycling Department, Rail Line, Food
Store, Recycling Center, Tennis Center, Riding Club, Small Store, Boat Production, Hair
Club, No School, No Restaurant Grocery Store. Care Store
Three Packing Houses,
No School, No Restaurant.
HIRED LABOR Town Folk-Friends There is one important farmer Don't like to hire local labor.
SOURCES Like local labor who hired a lot of people. Mostly Migrant Workers
Mostly Migrant Workers
AGRICULTURE Few Full Timers, Increasing Use of Some Organic Farmers Dairy, Cattle, Vegetables,
Tree Farming, Some Grain, associate with Krishna Cucumber, Squash, Corn,
Tobacco, Cattle Religion, Few Full Timers, Okra, Ornamental Plants,
Poor Soil Lots of Fresh Market Christmas trees.
Vegetables. Poor Soil. Better Soil.
JOB OPTIONS Prison System, In Town or Local Prison System, Local Prison System, Local
Industries, In Gainesville. Industries Industries.
part-time Farmers, Part-time farming.
SOCIAL ISSUES Growing Community, Safe, Good Good Sense of Community More Division of Classes and
PERCEPTIONS Schools (Lake Butler), Proud of Among White and Old Races. Unhappiness With the
Town, Like New Residents, Low Residents. Government Regulations. Do
Cost of Land, Low Taxes and Easy Some Division of Classes not Like New Residents
Government Regulations (upper and lower class) (Migrant) Coming to the
COMMUNITY Two Parks, Some Land/Housing One Housing Development. There is some sense of
ENVIRONMENT Development (two). Quiet Place to Safe Place to Live, Happy Community But not Among
Live, Nice Natural Environment with the environment All Community Groups
Complains about Bad Smells,
Spray Application and Noise
Any conclusions and recommendations concerning Worthington Springs, and also
Brooker and LaCrosse, will be a brief discussion of the changes and the transitions. Change and
transition are assumed here to be a natural part of life and inherent in any system, either human
or natural. What is important in this section is not the statement "the communities are in
transition", but a description of the nature of the change/transition in Worthington Springs,
Brooker, and LaCrosse. The nature of the change and transition will ultimately create a
Worthington Springs, Brooker and LaCrosse that are different. This section will first describe the
nature of the change, then move into a discussion of the forces that are propelling that change.
Here this is meant to be not a case by case delineation of events, but an intuitive assertion based
on statements made by the town members themselves. Finally we will predict the future
characteristics of these communities and illustrate how they differ from the present, and make
recommendations to address any social and environmental problems resulting from the
Conclusions and the Nature of the Changes
The nature of the changes occurring in Worthington Springs, Brooker, and LaCrosse have
similarities and differences based on the characteristics that the communities share, and in the
ways they differ.
The following chart shows some general ways in which they are similar, dissimilar based on a
Primarily Agricultural in the Past Primarily Agricultural in the Past Primarily Agricultural in the Past
---Poor Soil ---Poor Soil ---Good Soil
Loss ofLocal Shops, Business Loss ofLocal Shops, Business Loss ofLocal Shops, Business
Mostly Racially Narrow (White) Somewhat Racially Diverse Racially Diverse
Some Commercial Business Growth Little Commercial Industry Some Industrial Operations
Some rise in population Population staying same Some drop in population
Transportation Improved (70s) Transportation Improved (70s) Transportation Improved (70s)
Prisons a major employer Prisons a major employer Gainesville Businesses maj emplo.
Sense of community
---generally positive and proud
Little sense of community
The type of agriculture, the amount of full time farmers, and the average land holding of
farmers has decreased in the recent past..
In Worthington Springs, most farmers grow low labor input crops like hay and pine as a
means of holding onto their family and agricultural heritage, the farm land tax assessment,
and rural lifestyle. Many families and children stay in Worthington Springs, and their
parents' farms are commonly divided among the children. This has created smaller land
holdings. As a result there are many part-time, small-scale agricultural operations.
Citizens have sense ofcommunity
---generally positive and proud
* In LaCrosse, vegetable crops are still grown because the soil is conducive to this activity.
Full time farmers grow more acreage to respond to falling farm gate prices. There are also
many small scale, part time farming operations.
* Brooker is losing small farms, farmers. Large scale farmers are using the available land.
In all three towns, small business have disappeared. This has occurred in the past and
continues presently. Many small grocery stores and cafes start and then fold. Other small
service shops "come and go". Our contacts give differing reasons for this; often it is only
partially a lack of business, but more likely complications with landlord, location, supply, etc..
Brooker has recently lost most of its retail businesses, while Worthington Springs and LaCrosse
are currently more stable. Worthington Springs and LaCrosse also contain more industrial
operations and these seem to be stable.
In the past, many small commercial operations and industries operated to serve the
agricultural sector. However due to the decline in farming operations, these businesses have long
since disappeared. Yet they are important to mention as they are cornerstones of civic pride and
gave life to the towns' centers. Other sources of business for these service industries were from
the tung oil plant in Brooker, and the resort industry in Worthington Springs which have long
The town populations are changing (see chart above). In Worthington Springs which is
growing, two new residential housing projects are under development. Brooker's population is
relatively stable. There is one residential housing project under some state of development.
LaCrosse is experiencing some drop in population. Despite this loss of population, there is an
influx of new residents moving to "the country" from more urban areas. This is similar to
Worthington Springs and Brooker, where new residents are moving into town for the pastoral
Forces Dictate Change
In Worthington Springs many of the residents and businesspeople commented that they
enjoyed Worthington Springs and Union county for the lack of regulations, taxes, and "hassle".
They felt that they were able to both use their resources and live in a manner that was free from
nuisance. In Brooker ( Bradford county ), residents also commented that they enjoyed lower
taxes, yet their comments lacked the hassle factor and were generally less emphatic than
Worthington Springs residents. In LaCrosse (Alachua county) residents complained of
regulations and high taxes. It is our belief that the lessened taxes and regulations are a major
impetus for the small, yet active development in Worthington Springs which distinguishes it
from Brooker and LaCrosse. Additionally we feel that the rise in population of Worthington
Springs can be attributed to these low taxes and few regulations.
Forces at Play
1) Tax Rates
3) Ag. Markets
4) Related Ag. Industries
5) Population, both
near and far
In the agricultural sector there are several forces that are affecting Worthington Springs,
Brooker, and LaCrosse. As part of a national trend, numbers of small and medium sized farm
operations are falling. This is a very complex issue that requires a discussion far beyond the
scope of this paper. Our purpose is not to fully explain the issue, but to introduce the fact that
loss of farmers and changes in farmland use are part of a larger national trend.
In Worthington Springs, LaCrosse, and Brooker we see a trend that parallels the national
trends: as per acre or hectare costs of production are generally rising, profits per hectare/ acre or
farm gate price per hectare/acre are falling. Thus to make the money necessary to live and
operate, farmers are required to grow more acres to get their income. In a production climate
such as this farmers operations are required to grow to exist. Those that are not growing must
take off-farm employment to make a living. These off-farm farmers must still grow crops to
keep their land, for not doing so would mean to incur high tax assessments on their land.
Therefore, many farmers grow low labor, low cost, highly stable crops such as timber or hay.
Forces that are part of this trend are the input and supply markets, the marketing,
transportation, and distribution industries. For a more complete discussion of the national
agricultural trends see Wendel Berry's "The Unsettling of America" in the references section.
Population growth is occurring in Worthington Springs only, it is being maintained in
Brooker, and declining in LaCrosse. Regardless of the direction of population change, it must
be considered an important parameter as populations region-wide, nationwide, if not worldwide,
can and do influence smaller regions. This is exemplified by the influx of persons into the three
communities from nearby cities. In our interviews we frequently heard the communities referred
to as bedrooms for Gainesville, and sometimes for Jacksonville. Presumably these new residents
are willing to exchange proximity to workplace for qualities unique to these rural towns.
Therefore, the politics, populations, and other parts of nearby cities need to be considered as
linked to the systems of Worthington Springs, LaCrosse, and Brooker.
The Future, The Issues
How the three communities differ in the future from their present characteristics
will be a result of the forces currently acting on the system. As change is considered to be an
inherent part of any system, it is assumed that the Worthington Springs, LaCrosse, and Brooker
of the present will be different in the future; these presumed differences may be small and go
unnoticed to the untrained eye. For example, if in ten years a person returns to Worthington
Springs, they might not notice that 47% of the farmland surrounding Worthington Springs is now
planted in timber. The trees will be small, the person may be staying in town and not traveling
down the back roads. This imagined person's perspective is limited to his or her level of inquiry,
interest, and prior knowledge. If this person was asked how Worthington Springs has changed
the response might be little or not at all. Yet from the perspective of the biologist, farmer, or
timber developer, Worthington Springs would have changed significantly.
Change and difference are certainly dependent on the individual's perspective. This is
significant, here because as researchers, our perspective is limited to our present knowledge and
ability. There is certainly some insight, and perspective we lack, and which is missing in this
study. Therefore we encourage the reader to take our illustration of the communities, and our
description of the forces affecting the communities and apply your own intuitions, knowledge
and experience to build on our work.
Schematic models have been designed by our team for the communities of Worthington
Springs, LaCrosse, and Brooker; they are illustrated at the end of the paper. The general
trend in Worthington Springs is a slow increase in growth. The model shows that there are
several inter-dependant factors that are responsible for the economic and population growth in
Worthington Springs. Although subsistence agriculture is declining in all three communities,
the loss of employment in this sector is being alleviated by the nearby corrections institution,
and the lumber and trucking industries in the Worthington Springs. The young people are
choosing to stay in Worthington Springs because economic opportunities are available to them.
New people and businesses are moving into town because of the historic value of the town, its
nearness to Gainesville, and because of its flexible regulations that encourage economic
growth. These factors are responsible for a gradual increase in infrastructure which in turn
accommodates more growth.
As the model depicts, the situation in LaCrosse is nearly opposite of Worthington
Springs. There are several factors that are leading to a decline in the general growth of the
community. Among the three towns, LaCrosse has the least decline in agricultural production,
yet there is a decline that is not being replaced by any industrial production. Also, since the
economic opportunities are low, the disparity among the rich and the poor are being further
exacerbated. There seem to be too many regulations which cause businesses to move out or
not be established. These factors are leading to a general decline in infrastructure and thereby
a decrease in growth.
The population and economic growth in Brooker is currently static. Since the decline
in agriculture, no new industries have become established to offer opportunities for the
community members. But the community maintains its population by offering a good school
system, and events that keep it a close-knit group. The town dwellers have found jobs in cities
around Brooker such as Gainesville, Starke, and Jacksonville. There is a effort being made by
the town to attract more families to move into the community. If Brooker is successful in
attracting more people to move the town, more infrastructure would develop and increase the
general growth of the community. There is a strong likelihood that Brooker will become an
active, growing suburb to the nearby cities.
* The three towns will to grow as people from urban areas seek a rural homelife and an
increase in the quality of life lacking in urban areas. As growth seems to be exponential in
nature, the growth will seem small and inconsequential at first. Within ten to twenty years
populations will double within a five year span.
* Worthington Springs and Brooker will grow faster than LaCrosse because of lower taxes and
fewer regulations in these towns.
* More industry will reside in Worthington Springs than the other towns, as the political
climate is more conducive for industry.
* Growth in Worthington Springs will necessitate the creation of zoning and land use
regulations. Brooker will re-evaluate and strengthen zoning codes.
* Small farmers will continue to grow vegetables in Brooker. In LaCrosse and Worthington
Springs farmers of all sizes will switch to fodder or timber. Very small scale farm
homesteads of less than 50 acres will continue to grow vegetables for hobby or farmland tax
* The communities of Brooker and Worthington Springs will lose their agricultural identity.
Environmental issues will arise from the growth. Improvements in infrastructure such as
water treatment, town administration, streets, parks, etc. will be needed to balance the growth. In
places like Brooker, and particularly Worthington Springs, where the dominant social ethic is
distrustful of regulation and accumulation of debt in the public sector, there will be great debate
by town members over the need for improvements. The debate will continue into methods of
how to pay for the "questionable improvements". Unfortunately debates such as these often
involve newcomers debating with older residents. The result is a fracturing of the community,
between those who value sustainable, environmentally served growth and those who do not.
Currently, we see the start of this in Brooker were some contacts complain of older residents
wielding all of the power.
Berry, Wendel, 1977. "The Unsettling of America: Culture and America"
Sierra Books, San Francisco.
Burt, A. Worthington Springs and Old Sam's Curse. The Miami Herald. May 23, 1976.
Census of Agriculture, 1987, Vol. 1 Geographic Area Series. Part 9. State and County Data,
US Department of Commerce.
Dearstyne, D. A., D. E. Leach, and K. S. Sullivan. The Soil Survey of Union County,
Florida. United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service.
Flora, C. 1990. Sustainability of agriculture and rural communities. Chapter 12 In: Francis, C., et
al., Sustainable agriculture in temperate zones. John Wiley & Sons.
Lane, G. Life blood still flows in tiny, historic Worthington Springs. The Tampa Tribune.
(We were unable to determine the date).
Livingston, G. D. Worthington Springs to Rise Again. Union County Times. Dec. 22, 1988.
1992 Florida County Profile, Union County. Florida Department of Commerce, Division
of Economic Development, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tallahassee, Florida.
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