Some people are wild about food. Wild about fresh food, local food. Foodies, they’re called.
Sandy Veilleux is a foodie. She approaches food with an almost spiritual intensity. She embarks on “crazy, culinary adventures.”
As co-owner of Flora Bama Farms, Veilleux is also passionate about making fresh, locally produced food available to the community. She provides both private and commercial customers with food grown and produced in the area.
“That’s probably our mission statement: From our farm to your family,” Veilleux smiled.
Veilleux preaches the gospel of the farm-to-table philosophy, which embraces the eat-local ethos. It espouses a more environmentally and socially sustainable way to feed people. It also means fresher eating.
“We can literally bring something from a farm to someone’s restaurant that’s only three hours old if we hustle,” Veilleux said.
This passionate foodie is driven by her mission. She’s constantly networking, making connections between the farming and consumer communities. Constantly searching out farms and fresh food and something new and wonderful to get excited about.
“Crane Farm was a fantastic, lucky adventure,” Veilleux described one her favorite farms. “Their basil is so insane. Their hybrid lettuces—it’s hard not to get excited. You’re literally Googling in the field.”
Rudy Rudolph, executive chef at the Sunset Cork Room in Gulf Shores, Ala., likened that farm to “going to Epcot.”
“They can do amazing things,” he said. “She could grow something out of her living room floor if she wanted.”
“It’s as captivating as it is inspiring to be around,” Veilleux concluded.
Veilleux and Rudolph are akin to two fresh, locally grown peas in a pod. They share a passion for good food and community. They feed off each other’s energy and brainstorm “big ideas” about feeding the poor, teaching children about agriculture and bringing farming back into the region’s urban areas.
Together, Veilleux and Rudolph have formed the non-profit Four Blades of Grass. The organization is striving to raise funds to pay area farmers to grow food for families in need, to distribute that food and also to educate the community.
The pair also recently shared the area’s offerings of fresh food with the Hangout Music Festival. They were invited to prepare meals in the festival’s VIP section.
“So, farm-to-family became farm-to-festival for a hot minute,” Veilleux laughed.
“We got serenaded by Stevie Wonder Sunday morning,” Rudy said.
“I was like, ‘Wow, could this get any better?’” Veilleux said. “Everything you dream about.”
It looks like the pair will be living that dream again next Hangout. The food was a hit.
“They made us promise we would before the festival was even over,” Veilleux said.
Between now and then, the foodies will be focusing on providing the community with fresh, local food options.
“We really want to grow the community in every way we can,” Veilleux explained, noting that she is constantly running into passionate people with new ideas. “There’s so many amazing minds doing so many great things for this community.”