Eddie and Michelle Driggers and their two young children relocated from the Houston, Texas, area just over two years ago, though Eddie grew up in the wiregrass area of Alabama and the couple has been property owners along 30A for years. After two decades of corporate careers spent in Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas and Houston, the Driggers decided to lay roots in South Walton.
The Driggers sell their produce at the Seaside Farmers Market each week, their specialty being the use of hydroponic growing technologies (the growing of plants without soil) and hyperlocal foods (produce grown in close proximity to the community in which it is sold). “I’ve always enjoyed being outside and growing things,” Eddie Driggers says. “And in recent years, became fascinated with the idea of bringing local food sources even closer to the community.”
Coastal Blue Farms greenhouse space is 3,600 square feet in the Happy Hollow neighborhood in Freeport. While the property itself encompasses eight acres, the space required to grow 2,000 heads of leafy greens weekly only requires about a quarter of an acre. This minimizes the impact on the environment. And hydroponic growing technologies allow this family-run farm to use far fewer resources than traditional farming methods.
Coastal Blue Farms grows delicious artisan-style lettuce varieties such as butter, oakleaf and romaine, herbs like basil and mint, and flavorful and nutritious microgreens, which are germinated seeds that are eaten root, seed and shoot. This winter, they will also bring the seasonal favorites kale, beets and turnips, among others, to the
“We use non-GMO seeds and closely test and monitor our water quality,” Driggers shares. Science and innovative technologies ensure their produce is of the highest quality. They can also be a much-needed consistent supplier to local restaurants. Respected chefs like Jim Shirley, owner of Great Southern Café and 45 Central in Seaside, and Nikhil Abuvala of Roux 30A in Grayton Beach, appreciate Coastal Blue Farms’ products. They are beautiful examples of the high quality farm-to-table ingredients the local culinary scene craves.
Driggers knows that educational experiences will further cultivate the growing practices their operation values, so this fall they will offer classes such as “How to Grow your own Microgreens.” Stay tuned for more information and learn for yourself how these nutritionally dense microgreens are way more than just garnish. Coastal Blue Farms also make hour-long farm tours available Tuesdays through Thursdays, which last about an hour. For a small donation, families can learn more about the process of growing fresh food firsthand.
As their operation grows, the Driggers are always looking for ways to give back to the community. They will continue to support local nonprofits, including Food for Thought, a local childhood hunger relief organization. Their goals and strategies are certain to favor the ecology and mindset of 30A. To that we say: believe the hype, and enjoy eating hyperlocal whenever you can.
Coastal Blue Farms on facebook.