Frog Song Organics, a certified, all-organic farm run by Amy Van Scoik and John Bitter in Alachua County, has been a staple at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market since 2014. The Bitter family’s Winter Park connections go way back, however. Bitter was born in Winter Park and then raised just a few minutes away in Maitland. The couple founded Frog Song Organics in 2011 and not long after, they knew they wanted to get back to Winter Park and re-establish connections in the community.
Van Scoik and Bitter studied agriculture and horticulture, respectively, at the University of Florida. Their educations led them to a career growing delicious, healthy foods sustainably and locally. “We just really wanted to do something tangible that did something good for the community,” Van Scoik said. “We both had spent a lot of time learning about what was wrong with the industrial food system and we wanted to demonstrate that something else was possible.”
On top of selling their produce at local markets, they have also established partnerships with local restaurants by providing their product. Van Scoik and Bitter met Chef Brandon McGlamery of Luma on Park, Prato, and Luke’s Kitchen and Bar in Maitland, through Bitter’s father around the time McGlamery was opening Prato and the farm was just getting started in 2011. McGlamery, who regularly sources his food from local growers, began purchasing produce from Frog Song Organics. The farm now supplies all types of fruits and vegetables to the restaurants year-round, as well as seasonal products that McGlamery and the other chefs incorporate into limited-time, specialty menu items. Frog Song Organics continues to sell its produce to the aforementioned eateries as well as to The Ravenous Pig.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market and restaurant supply business slowed for Frog Song Organics. This led the company to lean on services such as online ordering and community-supported agriculture (CSA), through which customers can purchase a share of the farm’s harvest and receive fresh produce on a weekly basis. The shift in business also led them to some innovative solutions that helped them adapt to the new circumstances. “Luckily, we have a really strong community network in Winter Park and Maitland,” Van Scoik said. “We had another market vendor and a CSA member of ours working with us to locate some private property where we could continue to distribute our food in the interim and we transitioned to a pre-order model.”
Van Scoik and Bitter hope to further strengthen their Winter Park ties in the future. They recently began exploring the possibility of opening a packing and distribution facility in Winter Park. “We have so much support from the community [in Winter Park] and we would really love to both employ people locally and be able to serve more people in the area,” Van Scoik said.
Van Scoik also shared her and her husband’s passion for supporting not only their own business, but the entire local food system. Frog Song Organics partners with numerous local farms by buying and reselling their products. By purchasing from other smaller, independent farms, Frog Song Organics is able to help other businesses like their own get established and continue to grow. “Working with other growers benefits the local food system as a whole and helps broaden the types of foods we can offer and improve the way we serve the community,” Van Scoik said.
View details on the location and operating hours for the Winter Park Farmers’ Market to visit Frog Song Organics and other local vendors here. The Frog Song Organics CSA program is also currently open for registration for the second summer session and Fall 2020.