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, Pensacola Propeller Club, 2015-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; and USM Alumni Association, 1980-present and are both members of Florida Rental Association, 2014-present; USM Foundation, 1979-present; Farm-to-City Needy Feeding Program Volunteers, 2013-present; Friends of the Saenger, 2017-present; Pensacola Yacht Club, 1993- present, and Santa Rosa Yacht Club, 2013 - present.
Donna and Joe are the parents of Whitney Meeks, Kelsey Meeks, Laura Munro, and Chase Munro. Whit is NYU Law School graduate and author and serves as a pharmaceutical contract attorney at Columbia University Medical Center and is a former Peace Corp volunteer. Laura is Owner of Laura at Live Oak Rental and Floral Decor, 2017- present, serves as Live Oak Plantation Director of Operations, Marketing and Floral Director, and Wedding Coordinator, 2016- present. She is Director of Sales at Go-Go Billboards, LLC, 2016-present; and is a member of Pensacola Impact 100, 2017-present. Chase is an executive with The American Red Cross in Mississippi serving as the State of Mississippi Manager of Mass Care and Logistics, 2010 - present and is a member of Rotary Club, 2011-present. Kelsey is an attorney specializing in oil and gas at Barasso Law Firm in New Orleans. She is Founder and CEO of ‘WEEN DREAM, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit providing Halloween costumes to approximately 3,000 children in America each year who are faced with unique challenges including physical and mental disabilities, homeless children, those in the foster system, those with serious medical issues, and those who have experienced trauma or natural disasters. www.weendream.org
1. an estate on which crops such as coffee, sugar, tobacco and fruit or nut trees are cultivated by resident labor.
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, Floridian 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 that were descendants of those Mr. Lee used camped that hot summer on what is now the grand lawn to hand-carried water in heavy canvas buckets day-after-day from Lake Blue Heron to water the 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.
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 sits 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. 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. Though on-site hands-on learning opportunities, students are educated on proven crop production practices and are encouraged to consider agricultural pursuits.
Live Oak Plantation 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 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. motion detectors, and cameras 24/7.
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"