It wasn't until 2012, when the Florida Farmer's Market (FFM) first opened, that the town finally had a restaurant. Now the small cafe and gift shop, owned by Dave Palmer, has become the town center for the 774 residents looking for healthy food options.

PAXTON — In this small, rural community, dining options are few and far between.

The closest grocery store, a Piggly Wiggly, lies across the Florida/Alabama line in Florala. A Publix grocery store is 25 miles away in Crestview. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Paxton as a "food desert," meaning it's difficult to find fresh fruit and vegetables.

It wasn't until 2012, when the Florida Farmer's Market (FFM) first opened, that the town finally had a restaurant. Now the small cafe and gift shop, owned by Dave Palmer, has become the town center for the 774 residents looking for healthy food options.

Palmer moved from Atlanta to Paxton where is wife, Heather Johnson, is from. There was a bit of a culture shock coming from urban highways to the lonely country roads, he said.

"I remember one night I told Heather I was going to go out and buy some detergent," he recalled. "She told me, 'It's 10 o'clock, everywhere is closed.'"

Over time, Palmer came to love the small community and wanted to invest in it. So he opened Florida Farmer's Market with the intention of sharing good food with folks and offering a space for people to sell homemade goods and produce.

Interestingly enough, Paxton is a farm community. However the bulk of goods produced are not sold locally. FFM holds regular open air markets during peak produce seasons. Farmers are not charged a booth fee to sell their goods.

"A lot of farmers here are selling bulk, but I wanted to create a place where people can sell goods directly to the public," he said.

Year round, FFM offers healthy options. Palmer, who is an organic farmer, said he works diligently to only provide healthy options with "real ingredients."

Palmer's cooking lessons go back to his college days when he would get creative making grilled sandwiches with his George Foreman grill — which he still owns. The menu consists of sandwich staples such as ham and cheese, as well as turkey and bacon. There's also a list of "Dave's Specialty Items" which include more unique items such as The Luau Wrap which includes chicken, grilled pineapple, coconut, sharp cheddar and sesame ginger sauce.

There's two things you won't find on Palmer's grill — mayonnaise and ranch dressing. He doesn't like them. And after five years of business, he hasn't had any complaints.

"I think they like us," Palmer said. "Where else are you going to find goat cheese?"

Last year, Buck-N-Bean's Burgers became the second restaurant for Paxton. It's a small food truck located just down the road from FFM offering burgers, sandwiches and a few salads.

Outside of FFM, Palmer has lent his organic farming expertise to the agriculture program at Paxton High School. It's his hope that the market and cafe continue to provide healthy options.

"Our real goal is to be a community hub," he said. "Bring people to sell their produce and crafts. If we support the community, the community supports us back."

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