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West Palm Beach, Florida Just Keeps Getting Better with Joseph and Tawna Chammas Saving Lives at Gratitude Garden Farm

It’s a busy day at the Gratitude Garden Farm, and we are here with owner Joseph Chammas to squeeze me in for an interview. As we weaved our way amongst the hustle, Joseph explained how he stepped into agriculture, “I bought this farm because I got really sick around 12 to 13 years ago. So I started growing my own food. Originally, I turned my whole backyard, my front yard, the side of my house into raised beds and grew my own food. And then it just kind of catapulted from there. And then we bought this piece of land, and we started growing more and more and more food. And then we started getting into mushrooms and stuff like that” All I have to say is what an incredible way to get the ball rolling!

There is dynamic energy about this place. Farmhands happily buzzed about in this plentiful, nutrient-dense forest as ‘Marcial Man’ Chammas toured me. “We have our microgreen compost area, so when we don’t harvest microgreens, they dump it, usually cover it, and put it into the soil. So we can reuse the soil for a microgreen base. We’re actually harvesting some micros right now, so let’s go into the microgreen room.”

I peered my head into the converted shipping container workspace. Joseph introduced me. “Kathy just whacked the sunflowers, and now she’s doing the pea shoots because those are going for farmer’s markets this weekend. We harvest on Friday for Saturday and Sunday markets. The guys are harvesting different styles of kale right now. We’ve got all different varieties of veggies out here. We’ve got mustard greens, habanero pepper, cayenne peppers, collard greens.”

If you are in South Florida on the weekends, you can find GGF’s fantastic produce at:

  • West Palm Beach GreenMarket: 101 S Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401. Saturday from 9:00 PM to 1:00 PM.
  • Delray GreenMarket: 20 N Swinton Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Saturday from 9:00 PM to 2:00 PM.
  • The Gardens GreenMarket: 10500 N Military Trl, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410. Sunday from 8 AM to 1 PM.
  • Swank Specialty Produce Farmers Market: 14311 North Road, Loxahatchee Groves, Florida 33470. Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM

Joseph explains, “We’re not typically a veggie farm, but we are certified organic. We also grow organic veggies for our customer base and usually sell them to farmer’s markets. We rarely have leftovers. We usually sell wholesale to chefs, so we’re very well known for our mushrooms. Okay, that’s what we’re known for. Do you want to go check out the mushrooms? We’ll go check those out.”

While searching for mushrooms, we passed bok choy and swiss chard beds across the way from their home. “This little, tiny house, me and my wife’ have been living there for about seven years now.” Neighboring the abode was an even smaller home for their pet pig. “And there’s Betty. Oh, Betty, Betty (a pig). We just rescued her like two or three months ago. Some guys were trying to eat her on the road. They were literally trying to eat her, and she ended up here, which is a good place for a pig to end up cuz we don’t eat pigs here. My wife took her in, and now she’s part of the family. It’s Betty’s lunchtime. Watch when I scratch her belly; she’ll rollover. Look! Just like that.” After meeting beautiful Betty, I immediately contemplated going raw vegan!

This property is truly epic, a work of passion. They utilize many different ways to grow:

  • Shipping containers
  • Raised beds
  • Growing bags
  • Hoop houses
  • Good old fashion soil

As we journeyed on, we passed a fruit forest; “And then we have our fruit orchard, which is about two and a half acres of tropical fruit trees. We have about 20 varieties of mango trees, ten varieties of bananas and three varieties of SAP ideas, and three varieties of avocados. And yeah, we grow them in our fruit orchard. And then we’re adding some different varieties of fruit trees like jackfruit and stuff like that. But that’s what we do. If you notice, look at the bananas along the edge of the property, they go all the way around the five acres.”

For Joseph, it’s not a typical farm. It is more like an intensive farm equipped with a reverse osmosis system. “Okay, so we have like 2200 gallons a day made. We pull water from the well, it goes to the reverse osmosis filtration system, ends up in the tank, and then has some ozone bubbles that bubble up the sulfur. Then you’ve got clean water that is jetted out of these tanks into the cabins, the RVs, the greenhouses, the mushroom containers, everything that we need clean, clean, clean, clean. The field water is fine too. But for certain things, we need to use reverse osmosis water for sure.”

Still, in pursuit of mushrooms, we passed a field of turmeric. People go crazy over GGF’s juiced turmeric at farmer’s markets. In fact, they are in the process of building a commercial kitchen where they will make all of their products. “So we make a lot of medicinal mushroom extractions. We do a lot of golden milk packets that we make from the things that we grow, like the lion’s mane and the turmeric. And we have lots of different products that we want to make to sell online. But we need our kitchen first. So we are in the process of getting our commercial kitchen set up.”

GGF has big plans to construct a sort of educational getaway. “We’re going to be doing a fruit forest slash Airbnb. It’s going to be like little cabins and stuff. It’s shipping containers 40-footers with a 20-footer on top.” Here visitors will have an opportunity to learn how to farm plant medicine and be able to feast off the lay of the land. “Okay. So right over here. We’ve cleared this big area out over here. That’s actually going to be a gym with a path to a pawned.”

That sounds awesome. When is that going to be ready?

“Soon as they allow me to do it. I would say hopefully a couple of like two-three months, I can start building. We just have a million things to do!” All of this is possible because of the team Joseph has staffed led by Sales and Operations Manager Shauna Rollf. Not only can this farm crank out enough for a total of five farmer’s markets they also cater to dozens of restaurants! “

Danielle: And how many restaurants Did you say you’re working with?
Shauna: “Over 100 accounts right now, on a regular basis every week, probably between Palm Beach and Miami.”

How are you able to manage all of those?

“I’ve been with them for a couple of years now, a lot of organization, but it’s also a lot of timing. Sometimes it’s cold, so the mushrooms are slow. But the chefs need 300 pounds…” Shauna has years of hospitality experience and loves the restaurant industry making her the perfect liaison for the chefs, “I understand their perspective. And I understand our perspective. Yeah, it’s just fun for me.”

There is much more to tell and explore at Gratitude Garden Farm! Stay tuned for updates.