Farm market aims to provide fresh and local food
Rype and Readi Farm Market, located on County Road 305 in Elkton, began as a legacy project for co-owners Jean-Sebastien Gros and Dr. Ripp A. Smith. The two men, who met when they were neighbors in South Florida, wanted to share health and wellness with their daughters, so they formed the farm to provide fresh, local and healthy fare to their families and to the local community.
The farm includes a store, an event tent in which they host seasonal festivities and some livestock in addition to their crops.
“Our farm is 22 acres and we specialize in farm to fork,” said Gros.
Gros said that the idea is for Rype and Ready to build up a community of businesses. In acting as a conduit for the local marketplace, the farm market offers organic produce grown locally by farmers in St. Johns County or by other growers on the East Coast that Gros knows personally. He said great care is taken to ensure the freshness of every item sold at the market. Farm fresh eggs, which require no refrigeration, and raw milk are available for sale. Bread is furnished by French Pantry. The market also has honey crystals (“honey without the sticky,” according to Gros), a variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Greece and Italy and fresh, privately labeled relishes and sauces, all catering to the growing interest in eating and living healthier.
Gros said that they offer cooking classes as well.
“We offer ingredients to complement local farm fare and take it to the next level. For instance, we sell a basket of local potatoes, parsnips and turnips and include a recipe card so home chefs can make a root vegetable soup,” Gros said.
Not content to limit themselves to home chefs, Rype and Readi takes the farm to fork concept one step further: earlier this year, they were awarded the food and beverage contract at the public St. Johns Golf Club, which is just down the road.
“The Rype and Readi Golf Bistro offers farm fresh cuisine, using foods grown here or the local farms around us,” Gros said. “Our chef is has a creative approach to real food and the business there is steadily growing.”
Gros believes that education about farm fresh food is paramount, particularly for youth, so they grow up appreciating the importance of healthy eating.
“We think it is important to get kids engaged in agriculture and expose them to agribusiness and the culinary arts. Do you know that at the turn of the 20th century, nine of 10 children knew someone involved in agriculture, but by the turn of the 21st century, only one in 10 did?” said Gros.
To that end, the farm offers school field trips almost daily. Students see cows, sheep, goats and chickens in the petting zoo in addition to learning about farming — both traditional and hydroponic. On the property, Rype and Readi also grows citrus, including naval and Valencia oranges, Meyer Lemons and tangerines, as well as red and green varieties of lettuce and a variety of herbs.
The biggest challenge Rype and Readi Farm Market is facing is a result of its location. Located 12 miles outside of downtown St. Augustine in the heart of farm country, they are finding that the market is not busy outside of the weekends. Gros said they would like to relocate the market closer to a population center and are currently investigating sites closer to downtown St. Augustine.
“It has always been our plan to have a downtown location. We want to stay in St. Johns County, but we need a large building with quite a bit of outside space,” Gros said.
The plan would be to move the market and the hydroponics, but keep the animals and the events at the present location.
Rype and Readi Farm Market is located at 5780 County Road 305 and is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. year round. Visit www.rypeandreadi.com for more information.
Photos by Martie Thompson
Co-owner Sebastien Gros with seasonal fare at Rype and Readi Farm Market.
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