It took three years to set up his system and get plants growing. At first he focused on lettuce, arugula and basil. “My idea was that I wanted to work directly with distributors,” he says. “Well, I learned a boatload. For six months I tried it that way. I’d sit there at the distributor while they checked in my product. They demanded a perfect product from me, but shipped a garbage product that had been sitting around for a long time.

“I saw that we needed to eliminate that step. I knew I could produce a high quality product and sell it direct to consumers. The distributors were all about numbers — at the end of the day, it was just a business to them. They had no passion for it. I said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to go around those guys.’”

That led him to try to appeal to local upscale chefs.

“I picked the crazy stuff to grow, the specialty stuff. I figured chefs would be into it. I had 35 products, and invited chefs out to see what we were doing. One started buying, and from there, it just took off. Chefs from Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties got interested; anybody doing farm-to-table got interested in what we had.”

Next, Community Supported Agricultures began making news around the country and the Swanks thought the idea could work for them They partnered with Whole Foods stores in Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Wellington and Fort Lauderdale, where CSA customers could pick up their boxes filled with Swank Farm vegetables.

“Everything in our CSA box comes from our farm,” Darrin says. “That’s the way I always wanted it to be, and now we’re diversified enough that we can do that. We kept expanding into different programs of produce production, and people enjoy what they’re getting.”

The Swanks even grow herbs, ranging from chives and oregano to thyme and dill. Lettuce remains a mainstay, and they turn out 20 different types of it. They even sell Swiss chard mixes, buckwheat and edible flowers.