7 Ways to Support Florida Agriculture Through the Summer
Looking for ways to support Florida agriculture even in the withering heat? It’s easier than you think.
Florida’s bounty of produce is usually in the winter, a contrast with many other states around the U.S., that are finally growing their berries, tomatoes, peaches, and other yummy items. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy outdoor markets or farms for the next couple of months—even if some of the farms and farm markets are closed through Florida’s summer–which should instead be called Stick-Your-Head-in-the-AC- and-Don’t-Remove-Until-November Season.
Here are a few places you can visit this summer to pick up in-season produce in Florida. Check websites for hours and exact locations:
1. Tampa Bay Markets is an umbrella group of seven fresh-air markets in Tampa and St. Petersburg, with most of them running through the summer, said manager Tiffany Ferrecchia. Tampa Bay Markets feature as many as 100 vendors, including farm vendors from around the state. One popular market is Seminole Heights, held usually on the lawn of Hillsborough High School but gets moved to Southern Brewing & Winemaking in the summer.
Tampa Bay Markets have some new vendors you can check out, including Homespun Goods, where they raise goats and sheep and make items like goat milk soap, kefir, cheese, and yogurt. The farm managers even bring a couple of their goats to their market. Another new vendor is Tampa’s Wild Guava Nursery, which sells Florida citrus and tropical fruit trees. This time of year, the folks from Wild Guava will bring less common tropical items like lychees. “They taste so good, and they’re bringing them to the market,” Ferrecchia says.
2. St. Petersburg Saturday Market continues through the summer but will move from the Al Lang Stadium parking lot to nearby (and shadier) Williams Park starting this Saturday through August 29. The market has about 50 vendors selling locally-grown items as well as food from around the world.
3. The Downtown Farmers Curb Market in Lakeland takes place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open all year except in August.
4. There’s the Orlando Farmers Market, held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Lake Eola Park.
5. Sarasota Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota is open on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (there will be a Shrimp and Lobster Fest on Saturday, June 27).
6. The Central Sarasota Farmers Market will stay open through the summer (as well as year-round) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. One new vendor is the popular Geraldson Community Farm.
At all of these markets, you’ll find a mix of local foods, crafts, food trucks, plenty of entertainment, and even treats for the family dog. Ferrecchia of Tampa Bay Markets says customers continue to turn out even in summer’s dog days, although traffic tapers off after 12:30 pm. “The produce is still out there, and people come to get their necessities,” she says, noting that in addition to summer produce, eggs are another item people can enjoy year-round. Ferrecchia encourages people to visit markets earlier in the day so you can enjoy what they have to offer without feeling assaulted by the heat. Plus, vendors don’t want to wither any more than you do, so keep in mind that some parks have nice shade to cut down on the heat.
7. Another option for your local food fix would be a visit to a farm or farm stand that stays open year-round. One example is Hydro Harvest Farms, a hydroponic farm in Ruskin. Its weekly newsletter reports that lettuce, Swiss chard, jalapeños, tomatoes, and herbs are often available for picking in the summer.
Check online for additional markets throughout Florida that are open in the summer. There are always new markets coming and going.