Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Park's Green Market Gains Popularity in Winter; Some People like That Foods Can Be Found There That Aren't Available at Grocery Stores

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Park's Green Market Gains Popularity in Winter; Some People like That Foods Can Be Found There That Aren't Available at Grocery Stores

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

NEPTUNE BEACH - The Beaches Green Market at Jarboe Park has grown so popular since it opened in May 2008 that new vendors face a waiting list and customers have to vie for parking space.

The outdoor weekly market, open from 2 to 5 p.m. each Saturday on the corner of Third Street and Florida Boulevard, has space for 25 vendors and is popular year round.

But in winter, it really flourishes.

In Northeast Florida, winter season is the most abundant time of the year, market founder and organizer Gretchen Ferrell said. The heat and bugs of the summer are gone, many crops are at their peak and "the farmers have a lot of food now."

The market's vendors are mostly organic farmers, and all of their products are locally grown.

This time of year, they're offering many different types of fruits and vegetables, Ferrell said.

They're selling lettuces and greens including kale, collard greens, Swiss chard and Vitamin Greens.

And they're offering many different types of citrus crops, including oranges, grapefruits and lemons.

A nice feature about the market is that customers can find foods there aren't sold in grocery stores, Ferrell said.

Twinn Bridges Farm from Macclenny sells heirloom varieties of cucumbers, radishes and lettuces.

Cognito Farm from Starke sells only pasture-raised meats and eggs, including smoked ham, broiler chickens and pork chops.

This winter, one vendor is selling a citrus Ferrell had never seen before, a small tangerine-sized fruit called "wikiwa."

"It's a mix between a pink grapefruit and an orange," she said. "They're sweet."

The market is popular with customers because many Beaches residents have built it into their food shopping schedule, Ferrell said. Vendors sell a variety of natural goods in addition to produce, including teas, honey, apple cider, boiled peanuts, seafood, natural pesticides, natural soap, and fresh baked breads, pastries and cookies.

The market is popular with vendors because it attracts many regular customers who are "well educated and really wise about their food," said Sam Williams of Cognito Farm, which has a booth there the third Saturday of each month. …

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