Florida Nursery First Foliage Files Chapter 11

First Foliage, a grower and marketer of tropical plants, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization late last month in Miami, listing assets of $52 million against liabilities totaling $30.7 million.

The company said it was forced into bankruptcy by the lack of crop insurance coverage and a lender that doesn’t want to be making loans in the nursery business.

First Foliage, based in Homestead, Fla., owes $24 million to Bank of America on a term loan and revolving credit. The company contends it should be allowed to use cash representing security for the bank’s loan because the lender’s collateral is allegedly worth $52 million.

First Foliage says it’s one of the three largest tropical foliage nurseries in the United States and one of the 10 largest foliage nurseries. The current owners bought the assets from a bankrupt company in 2000 for $150,000 cash plus the assumption of $38 million in debt.

The business operates on a 446-acre tract, of which 134 acres are owned. Court papers say the customers are big box stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart.

The case is: First Foliage LC, 10-27532, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District Florida (Miami).

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