2017-10-12 / Top News

Going for the green

Outside shops offer fresh produce, artisan foods, art and more

THOSE HARBINGERS OF FALL IN South Florida, the green markets, are back.

The outdoor social shopping venues return every October, with field-fresh produce and plants, artisan prepared foods and bakery treats, soaps and skin care products, pet foods, art and more.

This year, however, Hurricane Irma’s legacy will be evident, taking some of the “green” out of the mar- kets, as local farmers struggle to recoup crops.

“A couple vendors are a couple weeks away from doing the market,” said Mary Pinak, director of the West Palm Beach Greenmarket, the county’s oldest and largest. It began its 23rd season Oct. 7, and runs through April 21.

Swank Farm had to replant many of its crops, as did Miss V’s Organics, Ms. Pinak said. The storm left their fields and greenhouses in disarray.

A new farmer-vendor, Jerry’s Here Farm Fresh from Homestead, will bring a limited crop as he replants, she said. Brussels sprouts, cabbage and eggplant are expected to kick off that booth’s offerings.

Fresh produce at Palm Beach Gardens Green Market. 
COURTESY PHOTOS Fresh produce at Palm Beach Gardens Green Market. COURTESY PHOTOS Diane Cordeau, of Kai-Kai Farm in Indiantown, appeared at the opening of the Palm Beach Gardens Green Market on Oct. 1, but with limited amounts of produce, mostly root vegetables, for sale.

“I didn’t have much to bring. We lost a greenhouse and a crop,” the farmer said, “but we were lucky we had seedlings ready and we’re replanting. But it will take a few weeks.” Especially absent will be the green leafy vegetables hit hardest.

Peter Robinson, who runs three area markets, says his farmer vendors were hard-hit, but will bounce back. “I heard this morning the big farmers can’t get in the fields with their machines, and the smaller farmers were washed out.”

Orchids at Palm Beach Gardens Green Market. Orchids at Palm Beach Gardens Green Market. But, he says, “I won’t be going out of state for the vegetables (vendors). That’s not who we are. The Fongs (a family farm) are good with tomatoes, Chinese cabbage; cucumbers and squash — that’s what the market will open with. Then it’ll get better as the season progresses.”

Only Florida growers participate in his markets at the Lake Worth Farmers Market, El Sol in Jupiter, and the new evening one called Farmstands @ CityPlace + Sunfest Social in West Palm Beach. Artists are limited to quality items for the home.

Another new market, the Riviera Market at Marina Village, run by Alisa Hall, opens at the revitalized Riviera Beach Marina. It is scheduled to open Oct. 15 with 25-plus vendors, featuring a mix of produce, both conventional and organic, fresh juices, local honeys, coffee, artisan baked goods and fresh seafood.

The Lake Worth Farmers Market attracts a steady following each season The Lake Worth Farmers Market attracts a steady following each season A smaller version operated over the summer to test the waters.

“Community involvement is our goal,” she said.

Under the auspices of the Community Redevelopment Agency, the market will showcase programs highlighting the community. She’s working with an area high school’s culinary department to set up an on-site cook-off, and there will be area-sourced entertainment as well.

Her market is one of four accessible by boat: Harborside Green and Artisan Market in Jupiter, the West Palm Beach Greenmarket, the Lake Worth market and the Riviera Marina Market all have docks available.

Keeping older markets fresh means adding vendors and changing up the programming. At the West Palm Beach Greenmarket, a downtown history tour will be part of the market’s activities this season. Architect and historian Rick Gonzalez will lead the $10 tour the first and third Saturdays, meeting under the banyan tree on Clematis Street.

Root vegetables fared better than other veggies after Hurricane Irma. Root vegetables fared better than other veggies after Hurricane Irma. “We think it’s going to be very popu- lar,” Ms. Pinak said. “We tested it out a little last season, and the response was great.”

Food trends are part of vendor changeovers and additions. More gluten-free and vegan products are available at all markets. Delray Beach’s Greenmarket at Old School Square offers a number of vegetarian and vegan baked goods and gluten-free, and sugar-free items.

Kombucha booths and mushroom teas have appeared at the Palm Beach Gardens Greenmarket, along with niche vegan Caribbean cuisine, and raw desserts as well.

A poke bowl vendor, Poke Smash, is new to the West Palm market. The raw fish dish has become a popular casual take-out food across the country.

West Palm Beach Greenmarket 
COURTESY PHOTO West Palm Beach Greenmarket COURTESY PHOTO Rawtenders, also new at the West Palm Market, is a raw-food juice blender, selling nonalcoholic, cold-pressed cocktail mixers.

At the Green Market in Wellington, more than 30 flavors of granola and muesli can be found, along with a variety of organic and vegan foods and spreads. Fermented tea and kombucha, along with probiotic foods also are on the vendor’s list there.

Attracting a somewhat younger market goer, the CityPlace market will have a kombucha and craft beer mix along with fresh produce, and music. This market has no prepared foods — there is a noncompete rule with restaurants in the outdoor mall.

“That’s good, though,” Mr. Robinson said. “The people can come and go to a bar, eat, hear some music, shop for their weekly vegetables and go home.”

In his 12th season at the Lake Worth market, he’s created a market café where breakfast is available as a sit-down meal. Different vendors each week will use market produce and foods to create unique breakfasts for customers.

Kids and their pets also are welcome at most markets, with special offerings for the furry friends. Natural pet treats and food mixes are available; the Wet Nose Pantry is a new vendor in West Palm Beach that makes house deliveries of foods.

Nonprofit organizations have a place at the markets, as well. Up to three per week can use West Palm’s Greenmarket for their cause through an application process, Ms. Pinak said. “They are responsible for their tent and a table.”

The 100 square feet booths normally cost $100 for farmers, and $200 for all others, she said. It’s by a monthly signup, though season-long vendors are encouraged.

Special events, holiday celebrations, and honor ceremonies are scheduled at each market, and added throughout the season; these are listed on their websites.

The markets run rain or shine, through spring 2018. A few may stay open with limited vendors through the summer. ¦

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