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Marine turned farmer shares fruits of his labor with his Pine Island community

Posted at 10:33 AM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 10:33:04-04

A drive up and down Pine Island reveals several fruit stands and farms. One of those farms belongs to a former Marine who found his true calling in serving his community.

Steve Cucura enlisted into the Marine Corps during the Gulf War in 1991. He says,"I just wanted to serve my country." However, the war ended by the time he finished his training. The Norfolk, Virginia native stayed with the Marine reserves until 1998, then moved to Florida. He says, "My college degree is business management with a specialty in accounting, and I figured I would train as an accountant, and every time I would look out the window, I realized I wanted to be outside."

With a passion for growing fruits and vegetables, he got a job at Fruit Scapes in Bokeelia. He saw opportunity in the mangos. "In 2008, my partner and I bought this from the original owners, whom we worked for at the time. And we just turned it into something that was year round and almost on a daily basis." It's not the biggest farm on the island, but at 10 acres, it's enough to grow over 100 fruit trees. Cucura helps out his neighbors, whom he considers partners. He says, "We said, look, don't worry about selling your product. Buy this tree that we're recommending, and when you have the fruit, you can bring it to us and we sell it for you."

Visitors are welcome to walk the farm. The other farm workers will help pick the fruit. Cucura is busy year round. Fruit Scapes is open every day except Sunday until mango season, which is June and July. He says, "I don't want to go anywhere else. This is where I want to be. This is home." Fruit trees range from 35 dollars for a small tree to 250 dollars for a mature one.