Photo by Lucy Steiner Photography
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 an extraordinary location to host events. Guests 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.
WEDDINGS AND EVENTS
synonyms: farm, estate
1. an ESTATE or FARM on which crops such as coffee, sugar, tobacco and fruit or nut trees are cultivated.
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"
In 2015, Donna and Joe Meeks planned and executed the concept for a premier wedding and corporate event venue on their pecan farm and named it Live Oak.
Both Joe and Donna are members of numerous Pecan Growers Associations; the Florida Rental Association; USM Foundation; Farm-to-City Needy Feeding Program Volunteers; Friends of the Saenger; Pensacola Propeller Club; Friends of Satori Foundation; and Pensacola Yacht Club. Both are lifetime members of the American Rental Association and University of Southern Mississippi Alumni Association since 1979.
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; President, Owner, and CEO of Go Go Billboards, L.L.C. Involvement includes Kubota National Advisory Board; Vice President Pensacola Propeller Club; Association of General Contractors, 1983 - present; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Experimental Aircraft Association; Kappa Sigma Fraternity Alumni Association, 1979 - present; Co-Founder and Board of Directors Kubota South; University of Florida Agricultural Research Center Advisory Board; and Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, Member.
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, LLC. Donna is a contributing author for the “Official International Kubota Dealer Guidelines” publication and served as an adviser to Kubota North America. In 2014, Donna's Kubota Showroom Design Concept was selected by the International Kubota Tractor Corporation as the North American standard for all Kubota dealerships. Also instrumental in Kubota's Mobile advertising campaign, Kubota's North American Marketing Department chose her design as the official Kubota vehicle wrap. Her Kubota Chain Barrel Display Design was incorporated nationally in 2015. Donna was formerly 'WEEN DREAM Florida's Project Leader, a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit providing Halloween costumes to children in need. Memberships include Impact100 Pensacola Bay Area, Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, Pensacola Propeller Club, Delta Gamma Fraternity Alumni, 1981- present; Gulf Coast Education Foundation; and Les Masquees Mardi Gras Association, 1984 - present.
Donna and Joe are the parents of Whitney Meeks, Kelsey Meeks, Laura Munro, and Chase Munro.
A place of legendary romance, extraordinary elegance and unparalleled natural beauty, the land of current-day Live Oak 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, Floridian lumber baron, Mr. Lee, harvested 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 Florida 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 forest, they silently grew hidden into the giants they are today.
Over time, previous primitive homes on the property that were filled with long-since forgotten memories have been reclaimed by the forces of nature. By the early 20th century, parcels from the original Lee tract had been repeatedly sub-divided, and the current 22-acre property became the size it is today. By 1930, logging had ceased, and then owner, Payne Bryant, planted a large pecan orchard in the front field. He hired people from the Beulah community to camp that summer on what is now the grand lawn to hand-carry water from Lake Blue Heron in canvas buckets to water the pecan saplings and 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 with others being planted annually.
How did Live Oak get its name? 'Plantation is a synonym for farm and is defined by Webster as 'a farm or estate on which crops such as coffee, fruit or nut trees are cultivated'. In 2015, the property became a wedding venue, and although the property has always been a registered farm and was never a 'plantation', it was named Live Oak 'Plantation' based on the farm's long history of cultivating pecan nut trees and harvesting the nuts and as an homage to the beautiful Live Oak trees.
Live Oak sits on the last remaining 22-acres of the old farm that was purchased in 1990, by the current owner, Joe David Meeks. Joe and his wife Donna consider themselves caretakers of the beautiful land that nature so generously blessed with timeless beauty and natural resource. The Meeks now present Live Oak so that others may celebrate what nature and the work of those who came before created and to preserve the pecan harvesting and farming legacy of the farm.
The Meeks now also use the farm to cultivate and grow sunflowers to supply local florists flowers and to sell sunflower seeds to farmers. Through annual public demonstrations and exhibitions, the Meeks teach the process of harvesting pecans and other local crops in collaboration with eight local schools and FAA chapters. Through hands-on learning opportunities, students are educated on proven crop production practices to encourage agricultural pursuits.
Live Oak operates in the State of Florida as a model for the Florida Agritourism Program to help keep farms and farm history alive. Each Spring, Live Oak 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 schedule tours for educational, demonstration, cultural, ceremonial, exhibition, and historically educational purposes.
Live Oak is private land, a working farm with inherent dangers, and a 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. motion detectors, and cameras 24/7.