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In Memoriam David Chiappini, Chiappini Farm Native Nursery August 11, 1948 – October 15, 2023

Celebration of Life scheduled 2:00pm ET Saturday, December 30, at the Dogtrot Cabin, Chiappini Farm Native Nursery, 150 Chiappini Farm Rd, Hawthorne FL. Friends, family and associates welcome.

Friends and associates have elected to honor David’s memory with a permanent fund dedicated to providing native plant professional education and networking opportunities to young people and students. David was always available for young people with an interest in native plants.

Honor David Chiappini


From 1996-2009, David Chiappini led FANN (then referred to as AFNN, Association of Florida Native Nurseries) forward, championing the cultivation of native plants and vigorously supporting the development of new native nurseries. FANN members benefited enormously from his direct advice and supportive referrals, and continue to benefit today from the strong association he built. An enthusiastic promoter of the industry, as association president, David helped grow FANN from about 50 members to over 150, expanding to include a cadre of consultants, landscape specialists and retail outlets specializing in native plants. Always pushing quality and availability, David provided the leadership that made botanist Gil Nelson’s book, Florida’s Best Native Landscape Plants, both possible and highly successful (now in its third printing with over 20,000 copies sold). In 2009, the association presented an award to David to thank him for his leadership and service, above and beyond.

A perennial joker and entertaining storyteller, David was always a sharp businessman and classic “can-do-or-fix-anything” country boy who enjoyed family, friends and Real Florida. Part of the landmark Chiappini family of Melrose, Florida, David’s nursery roots go back to his grandfather, Giuseppe Nicolo Chiappini of Italy, who came to Florida and started work as head nurseryman for a local landowner. Many old palms seen in Melrose today were planted by “Papa Joe Chiappini,” who often went door-to-door selling plants and offering landscaping and other work during the Depression. When his employer couldn’t pay him, Papa Joe traded labor for land, securing a prime commercial corner at State Roads 21 and 26. “Chiappini’s Since 1935,” a full-service gas station and well-stocked country store, remains a favorite gathering place of locals and visiting Real Florida enthusiasts.

Always the joker!


Like many rural families, David and wife Marilyn did all kinds of things to make a living, and in 1994, started a plant nursery. They soon realized that growing what everyone grew and competing on price was no way to build a business. Family and friends encouraged them to consider native plants, the “coming thing” for Florida’s future but not yet widely available and still underutilized in the landscape industry. The Chiappinis started visiting native nurserymen, collecting seed off the property of friends, and growing trees and other “weeds.” Marilyn remembers another grower asking her why Chiappini grew beautyberry, a “weed” the grower regularly mowed down. Chiappini beautyberries continue to be a bestselling landscape shrub. David represented FANN at the annual FNGLA Landscape Show for years, and withstood numerous insults about growing weeds, always smiling and handing the uninformed a copy of FANN’s directory.

Chiappini Farm Native Nursery is known throughout Florida for its biodiversity, quality stock and service. David loved people, and his gregarious personality made him perfect for the job of educating and engaging customers and colleagues. Through the years, David hosted many, many field trips and tours for University of Florida students, landscape architects and others needing to learn about the plants and how to use them. David was known for cooking lunch for his crew and anyone that stopped in around lunchtime. Chiappini barbecue meetings made many great memories for FANN members. It is a testament to Chiappini management that the nursery is staffed by very long-term employees.

Marilyn loved working with her husband and has shared many stories about everything they did together, including raising hogs. She said her favorite part of the nursery was that she got to be with David all day.

FANN hearts go out to David’s wife Marilyn Chiappini, her sons Michael, Andrew and wife Stephanie, and grandchildren Kelsey, Hayden, Evan and Kahne, on their loss of their “Paw.”

Chiappini and sons
David in the center, with his sons, Michael at left and Andrew at right. 


David and his wife Marilyn.