If you are not playing in the surf, walking along the sugar white shores of South Walton, or noshing on breakfast at one of the nearby restaurants on 30A, chances are that you are perusing the bounty of goodness if anywhere near the Seaside Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.
Located in the Seaside Amphitheater, locals and tourists alike congregate rain or shine to meet and greet the regional farmers and producers that bring the best of their bounty for purchase. One of those is Fox Family Farm located in nearby Cottondale.
Andy Fox and his parents Jerry, and Mary Sue Fox run Fox Family Farm. As the seasons change, so do the crops that they rotate before being freshly picked at their ripeness and brought to the customers. Andy says, “We have over 40-acres, but keep busy on our three-acre contained farm most of the year growing vegetables in the small cold houses onsite that I built, and on the open ground.
We chose to sell at the market in Seaside as we knew Jenifer Kuntz (the market manager) was particular, vetted the purveyors, and has done a great job of keeping the focus on food.” Three years later, and with a growing season that typically runs from October to the beginning of July, Andy and his father Jerry sow the seeds that bring in the goods that include the very popular heirloom tomato varieties that can’t be found in most grocery stores, along with squash, melons, herbs, beets, cauliflower, cut flowers and various greens to name a few. “We like to play around with the seeds and crops to keep our customers interested. Until recently, we were also growing by using all natural methods, but as of December 2015 we are proud to announce that we have jumped through the hoops and paperwork to become officially organic,” said Andy.
Fox Family Farm uses no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, and follows the organic principles set in place. They are also manure free, and found an easier and better plant based compost to use. Though Andy grew up traveling the world as a United States Air force brat, he graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in agriculture, and when his parents decided retirement was in their future, they moved back to Mary Sue’s home, the actual farmhouse she grew up in. Andy says, “ I learned farming and gardening practices from my father, and always enjoyed it, which is what drove me to get a degree in agriculture. I also like building, and constructed the cold frame houses (heated by rays of the sun), that are quite different than hot houses (heated from the sun and other artificial sources). Small farms need to be efficient, and focused in order to be more productive.”
Andy and his father really love the farm and working in the garden, and Andy says, “ I take my hat off to those who can make their entire living off farming. For us it is a great way to earn income and to take pleasure in what we are passionate about.” Most farmers markets bring in customers to raise money for booth fees, but Andy feels that Seaside offers them something more. A direct connection to meeting all customers, whether locals or tourists, something they really enjoy. “ Dad is really outgoing. We like the one on one contact. We like the direct sale with our customers, getting to know them, what they like, and we especially seek the positive feedback so we can return home to enjoy the reward of farming,” said Andy.
The Seaside Farmers Market is located in the Seaside Amphitheater in Seaside, Florida on 30A and is open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (winter hours), and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the summer. For more information please visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/seasidefarmersmarket.
Susan Benton is a food and travel writer and the owner of 30AEATS.com, where she shares her passion for cooking and her commitment to promoting farmers, fishermen, chefs, artisans, and restaurants along the Gulf Coast of Florida.