SOUTH TAMPA - A drive down Bayshore Boulevard does not reveal the hidden gem a few blocks inland.
“I am nothing but a chicken farmer," said South Tampa Dairy owner Marion Lambert.
“But if you look deeper, I’m a Christian, a real Southerner, I like collard greens, I like grits.”
Lambert runs his farm his way. He uses an honor system where customers come up to his back shed and grab what they want from the fridge on the promise they will pay him back.
"We take cash, checks, genuine Confederate currency, gold bullion any denomination and real silver coins, pre-1965," said Lambert.
He says owning a farm in South Tampa is more practical than it sounds.
“Yankees make great customers, so we just fit the bill here for people who want real milk and really fresh eggs," he said.
In addition to the eggs and milk, his farm produces cheeses and raises livestock including pigs, cows, chickens and even a shed full of trained homing pigeons.
While many stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg have been out of milk, Lambert has plenty. However, he tells people not to drink it.
“I tell them they shouldn’t take it, shouldn’t buy it, shouldn’t use it," he said. "It’s habit forming! Once they have it, they have to keep having it and it’s not good to be addicted to something!”
His milk is raw and unpasteurized, which he says many people shy away from. However, he argues it's worth a try.
Lambert runs his farm with just one part-time employee and has done so for over 40 years. Hurricane Irma forced him to evacuate his animals, many of which just returned to the farm.
“Am I happy to have them here?" he said about his cows. "Yeah, yeah, I like hamburger!” he laughed.
Lambert said he doesn't know why his farm does as well as it does.
“This farm is an anachronism," he said.
Todd Cileo, a frequent customer and 20-year Floridian, said he comes back for the product and the farmer.
“It’s organic, you know the owner, the owner comes out. All the prices are better than corporate America," he said.
“Marion’s cool man … he’s just old school.”
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