Gateway Sun

The Fenway South Farmer’s Market opened again today, just as it plans to do every Wednesday from 9am to 1pm until March of next year. The farmer’s market is located at jetBlue Park on Daniels Parkway.

A total of 45 vendors were on hand this week, however only 3 of them actually sold farm produce.

That said, the 3 produce vendors were easily the busiest at the market while I was there. I went to pick up a watermelon, but while I was there I looked at everything else as well. In terms of fruits and vegetables, the quality looked pretty good and the prices were lower than Publix on pretty much everything.

Oranges, corn, peppers, tomatoes, carrots and dozens of other farmed products were available. I remember last year my wife and I bought some corn on the cob (which we like to put on the BBQ), and a large amount of produce to make some salsa. We figured we easily saved over $20 compared to what we would have spent at the supermarket – and it was probably the best salsa I’ve ever had.

So if you need some vegetables or fruits it’s definitely worth checking out.

The other vendors ranged from food trucks to booths selling bicycle gear, and even a booth selling what looked like homemade ukuleles. Another booth was selling locally produced honey.

But local farmer’s markets have been under fire lately from some business owners and flea market operators.

Just yesterday the Surfside Farmers Market in Cape Coral announced it will no longer be allowed to have hot food vendors set up after complaints from nearby restaurants. Earlier this year the Collier County Commissioners temporarily shut down the Golden Gate Farmers Market, although they reversed their decision the next day.

The issue seems to be that when less than 10% of your vendors are actually selling farm-grown or natural products, and the rest are selling things like jewelry and therapeutic oils, is it fair to be granted a permit as a farmer’s market?

I suppose if I owned a restaurant and 7 food trucks opened up right next to me and essentially ruined one lunch per week for my business for about half the year I would be upset as well.

But on the other hand … those 42 non-farm booths at Fenway South today represent over 100 jobs. Does anyone really benefit from putting those people out of work and taking away revenue from those businesses?

Normally I have an opinion one way or the other but in this case I can see both sides.

I suppose I’m essentially taking the side of the farmer’s market by choosing to do business there. While I was there to buy a watermelon today and veggies to make salsa in the past, I have also bought spicy pickles, a locally made hot sauce, and a BBQ sauce at the farmer’s market as well.

Looks like I’m “voting with my wallet”, as they say.

The good news for the Fenway South Farmer’s Market is that the only business within walking distance is the baseball stadium, and jetBlue Park is also making money because the market operator pays to rent the land for the day. So they’re obviously not going to complain.

Given the location of this farmer’s market, it seems the impact on area businesses should be pretty minimal. No reason to feel guilty for shopping there!

Besides, I don’t even know where else I would go if I ever wanted to buy a hand-crafted ukulele.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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