Going to the grocery store for your eggs, milk, vegetables, and fruits is fine and dandy, but buying directly from a local farm is so much more rewarding.
Local farms bring the community together; concentrate on fresh, healthy, and eco-friendly growing methods; and make good use of the hashtag "#eatlocal." And as we become more conscious about what we eat and where it comes from, more farms are sprouting up to give consumers greater options.
1. Marando Farms
1401 SW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-294-2331; marandofarms.com.
It's hard to believe Broward County's most beloved farm started with nothing but a cardboard sign pointing the way to fresh produce grown by Chelsea and Fred Marando on their one-acre property. When Marando Farms opened in October 2009, it was a modest operation that today has grown to include a thriving artisanal market. In addition to selling an array of produce grown onsite, the farm offers a CSA subscription stocked with fruits and vegetables, all harvested from within a 130-mile radius. Inside, a general store sells locally roasted coffee, preserves, raw dairy, eggs, and spices, while the Zen Bar churns out fresh-pressed juices and smoothies. In 2017, the Marandos will open their second location, in the former Batten's Farmers Market & Davie Agri-Tourism Center, where the pair will fill ten acres of land with crops, animals, and even a farm-to-fork restaurant in partnership with a nearby Broward County barbecue joint. When complete, it will be a one-stop shop for all things agriculture, from horseback riding, fishing, and picking produce straight from the field to cooking classes, special events, and, of course, a farmers' market.
2. Sun Fresh Farm & Ranch
4901 SW 73rd Ave., Davie; 305-785-0575; facebook.com/sun-fresh-farm-and-ranch.
Founded in 2010 by Barb Tolbert and Jeremy Craw, Sun Fresh Farm & Ranch has become well-known for its eggs. The ten-acre plot was once a palm nursery owned by Tolbert's aunt, which she transformed into an organic farm with the help of Craw and her siblings, Rob Matta and Victoria Matta Zonni. Here, hundreds of ducks and chickens roam the lush grounds in huge flocks, all of them free-range, foraging for everything from worms and bugs and grasses to produce, nuts, and seeds donated by Whole Foods. Shipping containers provide a space for them to lay their eggs. A few years ago, chef Nicole Votano of the farm-to-table Miami Beach restaurant Dirt, was among the first to buy eggs from the family. Over the past few years, a number of South Florida's most respected establishments have discovered Sun Fresh, including Alter chef/owner Brad Kilgore and Beaker & Gray's Brian Nasajon. If you want to try some Sun Fresh eggs, you won't need to go to a fancy restaurant for a taste; buy your own at the Sun Fresh Farm booth at the Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday or the Pinecrest Farmers' Market in Pinecrest from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
3. Scooby's Organic Farm
2230 SW 139th Ave., Davie; 954-330-3473; scoobysfarm.com.
Motty Katzir founded Scooby's Farm in 2011. Since then, the Davie farm named for his dog has grown from a few chickens to a flourishing CSA offering a number of products to the South Florida community. Katzir's dairy goats and heritage poultry are USDA-certified organic, raised on the property's green pastures without the use of soy, hormones, medication, preservatives, GMOs, or pesticides. Free-range eggs, meat, raw honey, and raw goat and sheep dairy products are sold at the onsite farmers' market from 2 to 5 p.m. every Sunday. Katzir also breeds ducks, turkeys, chickens, sheep, and goats to sell, so plenty of baby animals always roam the property. Products are available for home delivery or pickup at several locations in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.
4. Harpke Family Farm
2781 SW 36th St., Fort Lauderdale; 305-528-3777; harpkefamilyfarm.com.
After working in the restaurant and fine-wine business for many years, husband-and-wife team Tamer and Claire Harpke founded their eponymous family farm in 2013. While Tamer was an avid backyard gardener, his interest in traditional farming was piqued after several trips to the great wine regions of Europe, where he worked to harvest grapes in Italy. Today the couple's combined passion is realized with Harpke Family Farm, an urban plot of land where it's not uncommon to see low-flying planes overhead as they make their way to the nearby airport. Here, a special focus is on the more than 20 varieties of microgreens and microherbs Harpke lovingly tends to, from pea tendrils and sunflower sprouts to purple shiso and fenugreek. Thanks to growing methods such as raised beds and hydroponics, along with an organic composting program, the couple is able to harvest year-round, supplying many of the area's top restaurants with produce free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Production includes vegetables such as heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers; leafy greens like Tuscan kale and Molokhia (Egyptian "spinach"); tropical fruits; and edible flowers. Future plans for the farm include outreach programs for veterans, educational partnerships, school garden sponsorships, and a farm-to-table dinner series. Check out the website for information on how to join the farm's CSA for weekly shares, available in two sizes.
5. Criswell Farms
24 NW Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-667-7611; facebook.com/criswellfarms.
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In the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale lies a small, family-owned, boutique organic farm many have dubbed "Little Eden," a one-acre plot dedicated to selling and distributing its food within a one-mile radius — and to local markets and restaurants the same day it's harvested. Open during Florida's main growing season of August to May, owner/farmer Kevin Quigley uses non-GMO seeds and offers a number of seasonal vegetables, such as beets, broccoli, cabbage, kale, peppers, lettuce, eggplant, and herbs. As a member of the Broward Food System Cooperative, Criswell Farms also provides apprenticeship opportunities and classes in urban sustainable farming. If you're looking for some farm-fresh veggies, the stand is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
6. Back2thebeginning Farm
3790 SW 18th Court, Davie; 954-789-1488; localharvest.org.
Founded in 2012, Back3thebeginning Farm is all about starting fresh. That means growing as Mother Nature intended, without the use of chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers of any kind. They're so dedicated to clean farming, they even hand-pick pests from their plants. The Davie farm specializes in exotic fruits and seeds including dried mango and curry leaves, dried pigeon peas for sprouting, or soursop seeds to grow your own plant. Back2thebeginning also produces a number of medicinal greens, leaves, and herbs used to make kettle-crafted vegan soaps, salves, and balms for sale on their website. Each one has a number of therapeutic properties including their popular herbal conditioning shampoos and body bars made with pure essential oils.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram