Our beloved Seaside Farmers Market champions talented, hardworking and trusted vendors all year round. As the weather warms and spring awakens here in South Walton, fresh produce options will become even more bountiful. Talking to two local farmers, it’s clear the seasons ahead will be prime for the picking.
Watching Mikael L’Andre, affectionately known as “The GreenMan” to locals, in his element is powerful to witness. Nearly every guest approaching his tent receives a hug and an insightful discussion about the produce on hand. L’Andre is a 15th generation farmer with ancestry tied all the way back to the Mayflower, and it’s evident gardening is in his blood. (In fact, his first word was “snap” as he stretched up to pluck a snap bean from his family’s garden.) A Walton County native, his 10-acre farm in DeFuniak Springs provides local restaurants and markets a weekly supply of chemical-free and non-GMO produce.
Energetic, enthusiastic and well versed in his craft, L’Andre is quick to point out his mantra: “What is so magical isn’t what we grow, but the love we put into it.” If you are what you eat, L’Andre’s customers are certainly fueled by the passion he puts into his life’s work. Starting in March, L’Andre will have kale, beets and a large variety of heirloom squash at the market, among others. When okra season hits, he’ll provide Seaside’s Great Southern Café with all Chef Jim Shirley can use to create the restaurant’s popular side dish.
Another of Seaside’s favorite produce vendors is Fox Family Farm. Weekly for three years now, Andy Fox has made the 90-minute journey from his acreage near Chipley to bring locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers to the market. In December, they achieved their Organic Certification after years of following the strict growing practices without the official paperwork.
“We’re very happy to have this accreditation for our customers’ sake,” he says. “It serves as any easy way to confirm what we do.”
Fox and his father, Jerry, anticipate beefsteak or slicing tomatoes will be their largest and primary crop this spring and summer. They will also have plenty of cucumbers, watermelons, sweet onions, arugula and lettuce. The growing cycle takes a lot of care and precision. Fox says they start the tomatoes by seed in December so they can be ready by springtime. Tons of time and dedication goes into each of those locally grown Florida beauties.
The Seaside Farmers Market hours are Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., then beginning Memorial Day weekend, Saturdays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. – 12 noon.