Ben Wells Produce
As a third generation farmer, Ben Wells knows his way around the fields. While potatoes have been his family’s main crop for many years, Ben has been venturing into new terrain, with a focus on vegetables to sell at local markets and for produce delivery. Starting November 19, visitors to the Old City Farmers’ Market in St. Augustine will reap the benefit of Ben’s hard work when he and his farming partner, Megan DeJonge, set up a table with a variety of radishes, sweet potatoes, lettuce, collards, eggplant, spinach, purslane, turnips, beans, carrots, cauliflower and seasonal herbs, filling in a gap in local produce that occurred when the owners of S&J Farm retired in 2015.
Starting with a 5 acre patch of land, Ben and Megan have already doubled their space for row crops, and plan to add another 25-50 acres. They were nearly ready to harvest when Hurricane Matthew blew through and changed their timeline by wiping out many of the plants they had in the ground. Instead of picking vegetables, the two young farmers found themselves beginning the growing cycle all over again, sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings from trays in their greenhouse.
Already operating on a budget (Ben built his water truck by re-purposing an old potato wagon), this farmer is all too familiar with the risks and challenges of running an agricultural operation. He remains optimistic about consumer demand for locally grown vegetables and how it will sustain his new enterprise. In the coming year, Ben Wells Produce will also look to increase partnerships with local restaurants. Now, with the hurricane behind them, Ben and Megan are determined to persevere in their plans to provide sustainably grown produce to Northeast Florida.
You can find Ben Wells Produce at Old City Farmers' Market, St. Augustine Amphitheatre, every Saturday from 8:30-12:30.