Northwest Florida is well known for its sugar white sand beaches and emerald green waters that draw in millions of tourists each year, but what most are not aware of is that Walton County is also rich in agriculture. Heading north from 30A in South Walton to the city of Ponce De Leon, you will find the industrious farmer and well-known local musician, Luke Langford at Cypress Cattle & Produce Company.
Langford grew up a man of the land and has been working on his family’s 105-year old farm all of his life. He graduated from high school and attended Florida State University where upon departure he then pursued the business of home building. However, the farm was calling him back, and Langford answered. “I have two sisters, but as the boy in the family it was my yoke to bear to make sure our farm thrived. I love the farm and have never regretted returning to it for one minute.” said Langford.
Langford’s great, great uncle Mr. W. J. Sap started the family farm in 1912 with Langford’s grandfather, and they ran it successfully during the depression by growing potatoes that were plowed by mule, picked by hand, and loaded by truck to sell by rail cars in Westville. They also raised corn and sugar cane in the 1920’s to 1930’s, and sold cane syrup and corn meal.
After the depression, the family turned to dairy operations that lasted until 1993. Langford said, “ My father took over in the 1960’s, and by 1993 it was time to get big or get out of the dairy business. We did the latter and never looked back.” The farm now has an interest in raising cattle and growing produce. The produce is sold to food retailers, distributors, and also supplies the needs for their own market that is located in Freeport. “We branched out with produce in 2005 and began selling from our farm stand in 2010. I wanted to focus on the local economy, bring value to our community, and to support agritourism”, said Langford.
Cypress Cattle & Produce Company has been well received. What they do not or can’t grow they source from other local farmers to sell at their farm stand. The regional seafood has been extremely popular as seen from their Cypress Cattle & Produce Facebook posts on social media. Langford said, “We started carrying seafood from October to January to keep us afloat during the winter months. We used to sell Apalachicola oysters, but sadly with the collapse of their system we are currently bringing them in fresh from Texas. We have a man that owns a crawfish farm in Crowley, Louisiana who drives over so we can offer his fresh crawfish to our customers. Both can be bought by the sack, but we sell the crawfish already boiled too.”
Things on the farm have certainly changed since 1912, and though the farm is normally closed to the public, Langford now has had two successful seasons where he opened the farm to the public for hosted field trips, farm tours, u-pick peaches in the spring, and for fall-themed fun. “ We created a 5-acre corn maze, giant pumpkin patch, offer hayrides and children’s activities in the fall. The corn maze is staffed with local students who are in the Future Farmers Of America. They help customers carry pumpkins and dress like zombies after dark for the haunted maze. It’s a monster of an operation for us, but is really fun! With two small sons of my own, I’m hoping one will at least be hardwired like me to want to take on the farm some day.”
Cypress Cattle & Produce is closed to the public except on specified dates. The farm stand is located at 16564 US 331 South, Freeport, FL 32439. For more information call (850) 880-6955 or visit their website, cypresscattle.com.
Boiled Peanut Recipe (Currently offered green or boiled at Cypress Cattle & Produce)
Susan Benton is the owner of 30AEATS.com where she shares her passion for food and travel, and her commitment to promoting local farmers, fishermen, chefs, artisans and restaurants along the Gulf Coast.