Photo by Lucy Steiner Photography
In 2015, Donna and Joe Meeks planned and executed the concept for a premier wedding and corporate event venue on their pecan farm, Live Oak Plantation.
Joe graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi (B.A, ’79) with degrees in Real Estate and Finance. In conjunction with pecan farming at Live Oak Plantation, Meeks is President of Coastal Machinery Company; President and Owner of Coastal Rentals Company; and President, Owner, CEO of Go Go Billboards L.L.C. Involvement includes Kubota National Advisory Board, 2010-13; Vice President Pensacola Propeller Club, 2016-present; Association of General Contractors, 1983 - present; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 1985 - present; American Rental Association, 1983 - present; Experimental Aircraft Association, 2005 - present; Kappa Sigma Fraternity Alumni Association, 1979 - present; Co-Founder and Board of Directors Kubota South, 2015 - present; University of Florida Agricultural Research Center Advisory Board, 2013 - present; Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, Member 2015-present; Member of numerous State Pecan Growers Associations, 1999-present.
Donna is a retired educator with degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi (B.A. '81), William Carey University (M.Ed '98), and National Board Certification in Early Childhood Education (’03). She is owner and CEO of Meeks Industries, owner and proprietor - The French Townhouse, a 5-star luxury vacation rental property in Biloxi, MS, and previously owned Donna Meeks Design in Pensacola, Florida, specializing in renovation and design of residential and commercial properties. She is a contributing author of the “Official International Kubota Dealer Guidelines” publication and served as adviser to Kubota North America in 2013. In 2014, her Kubota Showroom Design Concept was selected by the International Kubota Tractor Corporation as the standard for all Kubota dealerships. Instrumental in the Kubota Mobile advertising campaign, in 2014, North American Marketing selected her design as the official Kubota vehicle wrap and her Kubota Chain Barrel Display Design was incorporated nationally in 2015. Donna is the 'WEEN DREAM Florida Project Leader, a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit providing Halloween costumes to children in need. Her memberships include Impact 100 Pensacola Bay Area, 2016 - present, Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, 2016 - present, Delta Gamma Fraternity Alumni, 1981- present; Gulf Coast Education Foundation, 1983 - present; Propeller Club, 2015 - present; and Les Masquees Mardi Gras Association, 1984 - present.
Joe and Donna are both lifetime members of the American Rental Association, 1983 - present; members of Florida Rental Association, 2014-present; Lifetime Members of USM Alumni Association, members of the USM Foundation, 1979-present; Farm-to-City Needy Feeding Program Volunteers, 2013-present; members of Friends of the Saenger, 2017-present; members of the Pensacola Yacht Club, 1993- present, and members of the Santa Rosa Yacht Club, 2013 - present. They are the parents of Whitney Meeks, NYU Law School author and attorney at Columbia University Medical Center; Laura Munro, Owner of Laura at Live Oak Rental and Floral Decor, 2017- present, Live Oak Plantation Director of Operations, Marketing and Floral Director, and Wedding Coordinator, 2016- present; Director of Sales at Go-Go Billboards, LLC, 2016-present; and a member of Pensacola Impact 100, 2017-present; Chase Munro, The American Red Cross State of Mississippi Manager of Mass Care and Logistics, 2010 - present, Rotary Club, 2011-present; and Kelsey Meeks, attorney at Barasso Law Firm, New Orleans and Founder and CEO of ‘WEEN DREAM, a national 501(c)(3).
1. an estate on which crops such as coffee, sugar, tobacco and fruit or nut trees are cultivated by resident labor.
WEDDINGS AND EVENTS
A remarkable place to celebrate special occasions or hold meetings! Unique natural elements combined with the raw beauty of Pensacola's quaint Beulah community make Live Oak Plantation an extraordinary location to host your event. Your guests will delight in visiting North West Florida’s beautiful countryside and this hidden hamlet only 20-minutes from downtown Pensacola and five minutes from national hotels.
Beu•lah (ˈbyu lə)
Origin: Hebrew bəʾūlāh literally, married woman possibly as denoting their future prosperity
2. used in Isaiah 62:4 metaphorically applied to the land of Israel: "Thy land shall be married," i.e., favored and blessed of the Lord. "Beulah Land"
A place of legendary romance, extraordinary southern elegance and unparalleled natural beauty, the land of current-day Live Oak Plantation was once part of a tract comprised of thousands of acres of virgin woodlands. This history of the property is still being researched. One of the early owners, a Floridian and lumber baron, Mr. Lee, used scores of laborers to farm the fertile fields with cotton, peanuts, and soy beans and to harvest the abundant timber found on his sprawling property located in the idyllic community of Beulah, Florida.
As was the practice in the day, huge virgin yellow pines were felled, milled into lumber, and sent down the Perdido River to distant ports until extinction. By 1815, as Flordia was becoming a territory of the Untied States and Napoleon was being defeated at Waterloo, today's 185-340-year-old Live Oaks were emerging. By their maturity, most logging had ceased, and for over two centuries, hidden in the dense forests, they silently grew into the giants they are today.
By the early 20th century, parcels from the original Lee tract had been repeatedly sub-divided, and the current property was the size it is today. In 1930, then owner, Payne Bryant, planted a large pecan orchard in the front field. Workers camped that hot summer on what is now the grand lawn, and day-after-day they hand-carried water in heavy canvas buckets from Lake Blue Heron to water the saplings to keep them alive. Between 2003-2009, a succession of relentless hurricanes wreaked havoc across Florida, and over 200 of the original pecan trees were lost. Today, a graceful stand of 50 trees remain.
Over time, previous early homes filled with long-since forgotten memories have been reclaimed by the forces of nature. What is now Live Oak Plantation sites on the last remaining 22-acres that were finally re-purchased in 1990 by Joe David Meeks, current owner. Joe and Donna Meeks consider themselves caretakers of this beautiful land that nature has so generously blessed with timeless beauty and natural resource. The Meeks now present Live Oak Plantation as a venue so that others may celebrate what nature and the labor of those who came before have created and to preserve the pecan harvesting legacy at Live Oak Plantation. Thought annual public demonstrations and exhibitions, they teach the process of harvesting pecans and other local crops and collaborate eight local schools and FAA chapters though on-site hands-on learning opportunities to educate students on proven crop production practices and to encourage agricultural pursuits.
Live Oak Plantation is operating the the State of Florida as a model for the Florida Agritourism Program to help keep farms and farm history alive. Each Spring, Live Oak Plantation plants a vegetable garden in conjunction with the Waterfront Rescue Mission to help provide their patrons with fresh vegetables harvested throughout the summer. At harvest time, the general public may schdule tours for educational, demonstration, cultural, ceremonial, exhibition, and historically educational purposes.
Live Oak Plantation is private land, a working farm with inherent dangers, and private home to the Meeks' family. As such, the property is open to the public by pre-scheduled appointment only. The property is surveilled by a private security company and cameras 24/7.