You hear this every day: eat fresh; eat local; eat organically grown produce, grass fed beef and cage free poultry and eggs. No matter where you turn “organic” and “local” is being promoted as the healthiest way to eat that will improve more than just your diet.
So why buy local? Well, if buying fresher, great tasting, and more nutritious produce doesn’t sway you, then think of this … buying local is a way to help preserve the environment and strengthen your community. The money you spend on local produce, poultry and meats will stay close to home thereby, boosting the area’s economy. And, without the middleman to increase prices, local farms have some of the best prices you’ll find.
Southwest Florida has many local farms that have set up produce stands as either stand alone operations or smaller stands by gas stations and mini-marts. Local Farmers’ Markets have also made their way into larger cities with weekly or daily produce fairs that become popular community events with music, art and the freshest produce available.
Here in Fort Myers, there are a few local farms worth mentioning:
- GreenMarket at the Alliance for the Arts. A weekly farmer’s market featuring foods that are locally grown, cultivated, caught or manmade crafts. The Green Market is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is a community favorite with live entertainment, activities for kids and of course – art. Alliance of the Arts opens their doors and offers workshops, tours and classes every week. Their GreenMarket is a great way to take in some culture while eating fresh and local. Location: GreenMarket at the Alliance of the Arts: 10091 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33907.
- River District Farmers Market: A weekly farmer’s market under the Caloosahatchee Bridge that is open year round and popular with the locals. The farmers market started selling local produce in 1994 and the green market features local vendors offering local produce, baked goods, fresh seafood, cheeses, honey, plants and flowers. The River District Famer’s Market is open Thursdays from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Location: River District Farmers’ Market 2000 West First Street (in Centennial Park under the Caloosahatchee Bridge) Fort Myers, FL 33901
- The Good of the Land, LLC, supplies food from area farms like Earth Song Farm -The Levine Farm, Bryson Family Farm, Organic Country Farm, Uncle Matt’s Farm and Alderman Farms.
- Latas Patch:The Latas Patch sells vegetable and herb seedlings, as well as organic gardening supplies.
- Fresh Organics of SWFL: A small, organic farm selling produce, herbs, organic baked goods, organic baby foods and even has a coop. They take weekly orders for fresh eggs from area farms like Blumenberry, Lady Moon, Jordan Farms that is delivered to your home.
- The Cape Coral Chamber Farmers Market : Operates only in season: Oct. 16, 2010 and runs every Saturday through May 7, 2011 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Cape Coral Chamber Farmer’s Market sells fresh produce, local seafood, fresh baked breads and pastries as well as handmade jewelry and crafts.
If you ‘re interested in finding a local Farmer’s Market , check your local newspaper for days and times or log onto http://www.localharvest.org for a list of farmer’s markets in your area.
Do you like shopping for fresh local produce? What’s your favorite local farmers market?