ORLANDO, Fla. – Cathy and Robby Clay want you to get to know Central Florida’s farmers.
“We are trying to connect our local farmers to people in the community so that we can get the food that they’re growing and creating into the hands of the people who are here that can actually eat it,” Cathy Clay said.
The pair run the Farmacy, an online market that sells meat, produce and more — all of it coming from Central Florida’s farmers and growers. The Clays have been at it for about 7 years and the idea started with them trying to start their own small-scale farming operation.
“We wanted to have our own farm that we were going to call the Farmacy and we happened upon like a 10-acre mom and pop farm. Actually, after visiting their yard sale they were having at their barn and got connected with them,” Cathy Clay said. “I started volunteering there to see what it would be like to have our own farm and basically, we found out what the struggles were for the local farmer trying to get their food into the hands of the community.”
Those struggles created an opportunity for the Clays. The farm had kale that it couldn’t bring to a farmers market due to time and money constraints. So, the couple offered to take that fresh produce off their hands and sell it themselves.
“Then pretty much one thing led to another that the farmers market people asked, ‘Are you here every week?’ and we were like, ‘We don’t know.’ “Cathy Clay said. “And here we are 7 years later doing this in so many different ways. But it just kind of snowballed from there. We started getting things from other local farms. And yeah, it’s just kind of grown organically.”
The Farmacy still turns up at farmers’ markets, but through their online store they’ve now added a subscription service, allowing people to get meat, fruit and vegetables sent straight to their homes on a regular basis.
“The distribution chain is literally the farmer dropping it off at our facility or for me — or one of our teammates — going to pick it up,” Robby Clay said. “There’s no middleman of putting it on a huge truck and delivering it cross country or state or whatever.”
Beyond bringing local produce to Central Floridians, the Clays are also seeking to educate people about their food.
“The farmers are really grateful to have someone who’s doing that because we find ourselves being more the advocates for the farmers,” Cathy Clay said. “They’re able to get more of their products out by us spreading the word and helping people to understand why they should be buying from these farms and how it’s gonna affect them and their health.”
To that end, the couple recently partnered with John Rivers, of 4Rivers Smokehouse, and his 4Roots farming initiative. They see it as a new avenue for them to create more access to local food for people in the community.
“They (4Roots) were actually working on launching an online market and we had already had ours up and running,” Cathy Clay said. “We were needing more cold storage space, we were needing more like things like forklifts and things like that — and they have all these things sitting here, they’re waiting for the process, waiting for the things to actually start happening and we’re like ‘we have that let’s bring these things together.’”
On the latest Florida Foodie, the Clays talk about how a neighbor first introduced them to Rivers. They also share details on their new subscription service and talk about their favorite fruits and veggies.
Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out her children’s books, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”
Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere.
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