Where to buy deeply discounted produce boxes at South Florida farms

·5 min read

Deeply discounted produce boxes, that pandemic-era phenomenon born during last year’s lockdowns, have returned for a second harvest season.

Although the coronavirus pandemic remains a threat nearly one year later, consumers aren’t nearly as skittish about shopping in grocery stores – but they still crave cheap produce, says Lane Brooker, general manager of Bedner’s Farm in Boynton Beach.

“People want produce boxes but they’re just more comfortable being out and about,” Brooker says. “I don’t judge. I just follow where the customers lead me. They tell us they want to come inside, and everyone just wears their masks.”

Where can you find them? Broward has one – Family Farms in Davie – offering variety produce boxes along with its seasonal u-pick strawberries through the end of season, usually April or May. The rest – East Coast Farms and Mecca Family Farms in Lake Worth, Yee Farms and Bedner’s Farm in Boynton Beach, and Mobile Green Markets in Boca Raton – are in Palm Beach County.

These are no-frills drive-thrus, and farm workers hastily load produce boxes into your trunk. Boxes vary by size but rarely weigh over 10 pounds. Drive up, drive off, that’s it. Call ahead to verify hours and supply as some produce sells out.

Here are six local farms selling farm-ripe produce.

Family Farms

14950 SW 14th St., Davie; 954-804-2850 or FamilyFarmsOnline.com

Robert Hoover’s 30-acre farm in west Davie once grew produce to sell to supermarkets. Now it trades in nostalgia, offering a farmer’s market, tractor hayrides, weekend bonfires and a petting zoo with cows, chickens, bunnies, goats and other farmyard animals. (They also sell baby chickens.) Hoover says early winter cold snaps have delayed harvests for his u-pick strawberries ($3.50/pound, will be ready Valentine’s Day), purple kale and sunflowers ($3.50, available early-March). “People got a taste of how inexpensive farm shopping was last year,” Hoover says. “People seem to notice again how important local farms were to the community.” Visitors must pre-order Family Farms’ $30 produce boxes online for curbside pickup, and the box usually includes pineapples, oranges, cucumbers, yellow squash, romaine lettuce and Haas avocados. Also available at the u-pick: heirloom tomatoes ($3.99/pound.)

East Coast Farms and Vegetables

6796 Lantana Road, Lake Worth, 561-286-0286; Facebook page

This produce co-packer, whose biggest clients include Palm Beach-based food distributor Cheney Brothers, became one of the most-popular drive-thrus during lockdowns with hundreds of cars inching along Lantana Road. East Coast says the mixed-produce boxes remain in demand for curbside pickup. Variety boxes cost $12 (cash or Venmo only, no credit cards) and often include cantaloupe, eggplant, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and green beans. Other a la carte items: $5 for five-pound bag of California oranges, $1 for one-pound bag of Georgia carrots and $3 for two-pound bag of lemons.

Mobile Green Markets

9905 Clint Moore Road, Boca Raton, 561-886-8668; Facebook page

Conveniently wedged between a pair of country clubs in west Boca suburbia, this pop-up produce stand from local wholesaler Thomas Produce arguably offers the best drive-thru discount. It’s cash-only, but their $10 veggie box usually has sweet potatoes, zucchini squash, cucumbers, green and red bell peppers. Their $20 fruit box, meanwhile, often contains strawberries, bananas, oranges, pears, apples and avocado. Red apples are six-for-$5 while tomatoes are six-for-$5 and 12-for-$10. Note: Arrive early to this daily market, as supplies frequently sell out by midday.

Mecca Family Farms

7965 Lantana Road, Lake Worth, 561-718-5381; Facebook page

As South Florida hospitality industry crumbled last spring, Thomas Mecca’s farm was stuck with a stockpile of unpicked produce it suddenly couldn’t sell to restaurants or cruise ships. So the farm, which shares space with produce co-packer Fresh Start Produce Sales, became an early adopter of selling bulk fruits and veggies to the public. But enough demand remains one year later: Mecca’s next $10 produce box sale will take place on Valentine’s Day, and may include red tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, eggplant and cucumbers. The farm plans to host the drive-thru once a month thereafter. Cash or Venmo only, no credit cards.

Yee Farms

9851 W. Boynton Beach Blvd., Boynton Beach; 561-732-0162 or YeeFarms.com

Thomas and Nancy Yee expanded their 81-year-old New Jersey farm to sunny Boynton Beach in 1974 so the family could grow vegetables from their native China during winter months. Now the family runs their farm operation entirely from South Florida, growing Asian produce such as bok choy, napa cabbage, gai lan, and Taiwanese flat cabbage. Their $15 family boxes (cash only) often feature a mix of yu choy (Chinese greens), kohlrabi (a kind of cabbage turnip), wawa choy (baby napa cabbage) and watermelon radish. They also sell individual $5 bags of Shanghai bok choy, baby bok choy and gai lan (Chinese broccoli).

Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market

10066 Lee Road, Boynton Beach; 561-733-5490 or Bedners.com

Open year-round since 2010, the 80-acre Bedner’s farmhouse and farmer’s market has grown into a down-home destination in Palm Beach County thanks to matriarch Marie Bedner, whose family has farmed land out west since 1960. (The family also operates a downtown market in Delray Beach.) Yes, there are country favorites here such as boiled peanuts and locally packaged honeys and hayrides and fall pumpkin patches. Bedner’s doesn’t offer produce boxes but its u-pick, now in season, features good deals: strawberries ($3.99/pound), sunflowers, grape and cluster tomatoes, poblano peppers, mini sweet peppers and white and purple cauliflower.