Howland Feed Mill Closes after 80-Plus Years
The mill was first opened in 1935 and served dairies from south Georgia to central Florida
According to a report in the Suwannee Democrat, it was the end of an era when Howland Feed Mill, Live Oak, FL, closed its doors late last month.
The mill was first opened in 1935 by John T. Howland and his wife, Quintilla.
The family said Quintilla ran the mill by herself after her husband passed away in 1948. She continued to run the mill until 1963, when she passed it on to her son, Edward Howland.
The mill originally was a grits mill but was eventually turned into a feed mill.
John Dade Howland took over the mill from his father, Edward, in the 1990s.
At the height of the business, the mill served approximately 45 dairies in from south Georgia all the way down to central Florida.
“We’ve always been known as having top-notch feed,” said Chad Hale, John’s stepson.
John passed away on Jan. 26 and a few weeks later the family decided to close the mill with the last day being Feb. 28.
“If there was any way the family could keep it going, no doubt, that would be the direction we would go,” Hale said.
Hale said many local dairymen were closing and there was not enough demand for the custom mixed feed to keep the doors open.
“We are not just losing a business but losing part of our family,” said Crystal Pappas, John’s daughter.
Hale said John always hired local people to work and he treated them like family.
“He didn't just know their names, he knew the names of their wives and children,” Hale said.
Pappas said the final day was hard for everyone.
“It has been hard to see this happen because it has been a part of my life for almost 40 years,” said Mary Alice Howland, John’s wife.
Howland said John never wanted to close the mill.
“He was a staple in the community,” Pappas said. “The mills have just been there and provided for the farmers and families.
“It’s hard to think that it’s not there anymore.”
Hale said the family has some prospective buyers for the mill. The family would like the new owners to hire their employees back, if possible.
“John was a very great giver,” Hale said. “He did a lot for the community and he did it anonymously.”
Mary Alice and John had three children Charyle Hale, Chad Hale and Crystal Pappas.
Hale said they will always have their memories of the mill, including jumping on stacks of feed bags.