In rural Palm Beach County, almost to the Glades, lies Loxahatchee. Lox Farms, at 1442 E Road, is among the produce growers in the area. Margaret Duriez, owner of Lox Farms, recently told Florida Food & Farm about her venture.
Question: How long have you been in this business?
Answer: We originally started the farm five years ago as a place to grow food and provide for our family of six — as we are all vegetarians. Three years ago, we commercialized the farm and started selling fresh local produce to the community, while also providing various educational opportunities for the public to learn about sustainable farming.
Q: Tell us about your first experience on a farm.
A: I have fond childhood memories of summers spent on our family farm in Pennsylvania. Being exposed to farming at such a young age and experiencing the process first-hand has definitely helped shape the culture we’ve created at Lox Farms.
Q: Do you have any advice for those looking to become a farmer?
A: I always stress the importance of familiarizing yourself with the market, getting to know your customer base, and identifying how you can best serve their needs. Initially, our team was growing much more than we could sell. It took almost a year for us to build relationships with the local community and to find balance between the supply and the demand.
Q: Do you focus your produce sales more on consumers or on restaurants?
A: Our team focuses produce sales on both consumers and restaurants. Lox Farms produce can be purchased at several green-market locations around South Florida, including the Downtown West Palm Beach Green Market, Delray Beach Green Market and The Gardens Green Market. Being on-site during these markets and witnessing families come to our stand week after week to buy food that is free from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers makes the intensive labor worth it.
Q: Tell us about some of the local restaurants and/or chefs you work with.
A: It’s been a pleasure to partner with some of the area’s most talented chefs and to witness our produce come to life in culinary creations that are both unique and delicious. Some of our local chef and restaurant partners include Chef Clay Conley of Buccan, Executive Chef Tom Whitaker of The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, Executive Chef Michael Hackman of Aioli, Chef Jimmy Everett of Driftwood, Chef Ken Blue of the Hippocrates Health Institute and Executive Chef Javier Sanchez of Renato’s Palm Beach.
Q: What made you want to farm?
A: I started farming as a way to provide fresh produce for my family, but the decision to go commercial with the farm came from wanting to make a bigger contribution to the community. It’s not every day that one’s passion turns into a career, so it’s very humbling to be able to do what I love and promote a healthier lifestyle in South Florida.
Q: Who has helped you get to the place you are now?
A: Farming is truly a labor of love, and it requires a wide variety of skills that don’t all exist in one person. Lox Farms would not be the operation it is today if it were not for the diverse team we have, all with different strengths and specialties.
Q: Back to your farm: Why should we love the farm, and what are you doing there that’s truly unique to your business?
A: Part of our mission at Lox Farms is to provide the community with the freshest produce, while also reducing the number of miles their food travels and thus the carbon footprint. As an organic practices farm, we can have a positive impact on both the environment and our health. We are certified naturally grown and have chosen to grow directly in the soil, without synthetic fertilizers, fungicides or pesticides, and so ensuring that our customers receive produce that is nutrient-dense and free from dangerous chemicals that can wreak havoc on the body.
Lox Farms also maintains the belief that food can play an essential role in treating disease, which is why we decided to launch Fresh Rx, a partnership with the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties that will fill prescriptions of fresh produce free of charge. Fresh Rx will initially serve oncology, cardiac and pediatric patients at Jupiter Medical Center whose doctors have advised them to change their diets as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Each Fresh Rx delivery will contain a salad mix, nutrient-dense microgreens harvested as shoots, and a variety of vegetables, which will support patients in making a shift toward a plant-based diet while eliminating the financial burden on the patient and their loved ones.
Q: Is anything on your agenda that we should know about?
A: Lox Farms is hosting a series of immersive farm-to-table dinner events that will help raise funds to support Fresh Rx, as well as the construction and maintenance of a vegetable garden on the Jupiter Medical Center campus. Each dinner includes a private tour of the farm; a uniquely crafted plant-based meal, prepared by a top local chef, using produce grown at Lox Farms; wines curated by Virginia Phillips; and spirits provided by Pernod Ricard USA. The next dinner will take place on Sunday, March 24, with Chef Jimmy Everett of Driftwood. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.loxfarms.com/farm-dinners/chefjimmyeverett.
Q: Shout-out: Is there someone you want to tell our readers about (for example, another farmer, small business, artisan, etc.)?
A: I’d like to recognize Holman’s Harvest and Gratitude Garden, which are two great family-owned farms in the area. While each farm has its different specialties, it’s important for us to work together, learn from one another’s perspectives and capitalize on each other’s strengths.