Miami Herald: Green markets a growing trend in South Florida

Whether a way to make a living, a way of life or a way to bring fresh food to the needy, more green markets are popping up from Parkland to Homestead.



Here are some of the other markets throughout South Florida; many of these accept EBT/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments and a two-for-one discount (up to $20 worth of food for $10).

Brownsville Farmers’ Market: Fruits, vegetables and other locally produced edibles. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday; Jesse Trice Community Center, 5361 NW 22nd Ave., Miami; 786-427-4698.

North Miami Farmers’ Market: Locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables; other locally made items. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thursday, Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; Muriel Olivares, 786-991-4329.

TACOLCY Market: Run by Urban GreenWorks, the market is open from noon-5 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at NW 8th Ave. and 62nd Street.

Little Haiti Market: Run by Bochika, the market is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Toussant L’ouverture Elementary, 150 NE 59th St.

Upper Eastside Farmers’ Market at Biscayne Plaza:Locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs, eggs, grass-fed meats, plants, tea, fresh juice. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard; 786-427-4698.

Normandy Village Market Place: Fresh produce, baked goods, herbs, plants, fresh-cut flowers, jams and bread. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 7802 Rue Vendome, Miami Beach; 305-531-0038.

Plantation Farmers’ Market: Fresh produce, locally produced honey, homemade hummus, plants and orchids, fresh-cut flowers, breads, pastry, olive oils, cheeses, dips and spreads. 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday; Volunteer Park, 12050 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation; 954-452-2558.

Green Market at Miramar Square: Fresh produce, plants, candles, baked goods, dips and spreads. 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday; 12162 Miramar Pkwy., Emily Lilly, 561-299-8684.

Coral Gables Farmers’ Market: Fresh produce, baked goods, gourmet specialty foods and plants, live music, free Tai Chi and free gardening workshop. 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables; Parks and Recreation Division, 305-460-5600.

St. John’s on the Lake Market: Fresh fish, produce, breads, olive oil, empanadas. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday; 4760 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-0038.

During Florida’s growing season, Margie Pikarsky spends Saturdays harvesting crops like heirloom tomatoes, green beans, arugula and Cleopatra tangerines on her Bee Heaven Farm in Redland. She’s among a small group of South Florida farmers whose produce is in demand to help nourish a growing desire for fresh products coming off local farms instead of the grocery store shelf.

Pikarsky’s produce is found Sunday mornings at Pinecrest Gardens Green Market, where she and other farmers calling themselves Redland Organics are among the 50 vendors there.

“We’ve been doing this before ‘local’ became a buzzword,” Pikarsky says. “Every year there’s more demand.”

About 30 markets now operate in South Florida and more are in the planning stages.

“This is the prime time of year for local growers,” says Claire Tomlin, owner of The Market Company in Miami-Dade County. “Produce is abundant, people like to be outdoors at farmers’ markets and goods are just flying out the door.”

Tomlin manages more than a dozen weekly markets that range from the smallest eight-vendor stop at St. Johns on the Lake United Methodist Church in Miami Beach to Pinecrest Gardens, the largest.

Michael Lopez-Mata says he’s a regular customer at the Lincoln Road Farmers’ Market because he enjoys the short walk from his apartment to the market rather than driving his car to the grocery store. “All the food is healthier, tastier and makes me feel better, too,” he says.

Green markets today are as varied as the array of colorful fruits and vegetables sold in rustic stands from Parkland to Homestead.

Some markets are only open one day a week in town centers, malls and parks throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties, while a handful, like the landmark Robert Is Here Fruit Stand and Farm in Homestead, operate out of permanent homes six to seven days a week.

While farming has been a way of life for the stand’s Robert Moehling, Marando Farms in commercial downtown Fort Lauderdale was initially started as a way to make a living after being caught in the economic crunch.

Owners Fred and Chelsea Marando were laid off from jobs in construction when they decided to grow their own food on land they first rented to launch a landscaping business.

“Now we’re harvesting tomatoes . . . lettuce, beets, kale and cucumbers,” says Chelsea Marando. The couple gets 90 percent of the produce they do not grow themselves from Florida farms. A loyal and growing customer base is keeping the couple financially afloat.

In recent years, urban markets have made locally grown food more available to needy residents in Miami-Dade County. 

Roots of the City Farmers Market in Overtown, which was founded by Marvin Dunn and operates in partnership with The Wholesome Wave Foundation, Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink and Catalyst Miami, lets shoppers using the EBT (Electronic Balance Transfer cards)/ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars to buy up to $20 worth of fruits and vegetables for $10. All the produce sold is grown by residents and volunteers on several small urban farms that dot the Overtown neighborhood.

“We are truly changing the nature of local economies through farmers’ markets and local farmers being able to use unsold produce to make baked and canned goods to sell, thus reducing their financial risk,” says Sharon Yeago, technical Advisor to Miami-Dade Dept. of Health for the Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant program. The grant has helped establish a variety of farmers’ markets including the Brownsville Market in Miami and the North Miami Farmers’ Markets. “It’s exploded in the last three years.”

The next goal, she says, is replicating Miami-Dade County’s urban markets in Broward, then Pinellas counties. Broward will have a launch meeting on Feb. 16 to discuss the Community Transformation Grant for a new project called TOUCH (Transforming Our Community’s Health).

Yeago says consumers should realize that not all goods served at green markets are locally grown and some markets supplement locally produced crops with items like apples, pears and garlic that are grown elsewhere.


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