Hastings is a town and agricultural center in St. Johns County, Florida, United States, 18 miles (29 km) southwest of St. Augustine. The population was 521 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 607. In the 2010 census, the population was 580.
Potato Growers Association building in Hastings, Florida
Location in St. Johns County and the state of Florida
Henry Morrison Flagler built tourist hotels at St. Augustine in the late 19th century, including thePonce de León Hotel. He needed a local source of fresh vegetables for his guests, so he persuaded Thomas Horace Hastings, his cousin, to develop a farm. A small community evolved into a town, which was named for its founder in 1890. Hastings is known as the "Potato Capital of Florida" with 21,000 acres (85 km2) of potato farms, but also produces cabbage, onions, eggplant and ornamental horticulture.
Hastings in 1910 was thriving town that was a stop on the Florida East Coast Railway. The population of approximately 1,200 supported several general stores, a bakery, drug stores, meat markets, an ice plant and cold storage. In addition to farming, two companies manufactured barrels and a grist mill ground grain. There was a bank and a hotel, three doctors and a dentist. The town had water and sewer utilities, telephone and telegraph service. The local public school was good.
The Hastings High School was built in 1924 to provide education for the children of the farmers in the southwest corner of the county. It has since closed, and the Hastings Branch of the St. Johns County Public Library is located in this building. The only public school in the town is the Hastings Youth Academy, an Alternative school.
Hastings offers a quiet, rural lifestyle where the average home price is under $80K. State Road 207 is the main highway through the town, which is the only real development between St. Augustine and Palatka. Much of the roadway between Hastings and St. Augustine was expanded to four lanes in the late 1990s and early first decade of the 21st century, increasing the attractiveness of the area for new development and subdivisions.