The SEASIDE® Farmers Market welcomes a familiar farmer as new manager By Wendy O. Dixon
Paul’s Pick of the Crop owners Paul and Marsha Johnson bring bushels of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to the Seaside Farmers Market each Saturday (and also Tuesdays beginning May 28), as regular customers delight in the latest pickings. In a partnership between several farmers, the Johnsons represent their own farm, as well as other farms in Georgia, Alabama and as far south as central Florida, and ensure the best of the best crops. Market goers can pick fresh produce including carrots, tomatoes, butternut squash, snap peas and many more produce foods.
Both Paul and Marsha grew up on their respective family farms. Marsha’s father’s farm is included among the pickup spots along the way to the Seaside Farmers market. And the Johnsons bring their son Cooper, age 7, along for a family day.
“He really looks forward to it,” Paul says. “Everybody knows Cooper at the market.”
At Paul and Marsha’s tent, customers can put their hands on the produce and carefully make their pick. For a decade, they’ve enjoyed greeting their repeat customers who have come to know that the produce they buy comes from responsible farmers, and has been picked nearby only in the last few days.
Beginning in March, Paul took over as the market’s manager. “Jenifer (Kuntz, previous manager) did a great job for us. It has a good format,” Paul says, adding that the transition to manager has been seamless. “Friends recognize me as go-to person. Basically I’m the person people can ask questions of. And I work with Seaside management to coordinate special events to accommodate everyone. So it’s mainly status quo for now.”
The Seaside Farmers Market has its own subculture as part of the town. Paul says more and more growers and other vendors are eager to be a part of that subculture. “Saturdays are electric in town. Just because of the people who are there, the market seems to attract more vendors,” he adds. “People ask me all the time, ‘How can I be a part of the market?’ We’re a producers market. And we’re a food market, so we keep things within that perspective. We’ve had few changes in vendors over the years because we’ve got the cream of the crop. They are the best vendors, and we’re proud to have them. Once you come you never want to leave.”
In Seaside, customers can also enjoy Paul’s Pick of the Crop’s fresh produce at several local Seaside restaurants, including the Shrimp Shack, Pickle’s Burger & Shake, Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs, Crêpes du Soleil, Five Daughters Bakery, Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant and Modica Market.
The Seaside Farmers Market is open each Saturday through May 25 from 8 a.m. to noon. And beginning Tuesday, May 28, and continuing throughout summer, the market will be open with new hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.