Farmer's Market, that is. I support the local Farmer's Markets all year long, especially the Cape Coral ones, at Club Square and now at Cape Harbour where a smaller version exists.
Why do we garden? (Besides landscaping)-we like to eat. To get the freshest local produce, I go to the Farmer's Markets. I could travel outside of Cape Coral and find lovely produce stands, but the shortest distance I have to travel the better.
They are usually part of my Saturday morning schedule, but I found out about one at Surfside Shoppes out Veterans Parkway. It is call the Surfside Sunset Market, because it is on Tuesday, 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. They have been open for about half a year now, but they recently moved indoors to a shop in the corner by Dollar Tree, another favorite destination. My daughters and I enjoy shopping there for both shops. We usually go between 3 and 4 p.m. This is a bit early, but they are mostly up and running by then.
This week, the fellow with the plants outside the door was a little late, setting up at 4:35. Two young girls are set up outside the other side of the door with their vendor cart, selling frozen treats. When you open the door, you are greeted by Tea Largo. Of course, samples are available throughout the shops.
On the right is my favorite lady, I call her the Sprout Queen. We sampled her cups of goodies, soft sprouting beans that are a delectable crunchy treat, and my daughter buys a tub of them to go with her sprouts. Great snacking! It only takes 36 hours for the soaked beans to sprout. This is the spot for Pine Island Botanical, with lychee nuts and other tropical fruits and squashes, along with produce greens grown in heavy duty sewer piping. Just know these are clean pipes that are sturdy enough to carry the water and liquid fertilizer through the plant roots. Hydroponic growing like my son in Bradenton does in Styrofoam pots, only these are sturdier and last longer, Mike Wallace explains to me. I watch a customer buy a Kiffer lime tree and carry it out like a prize jewel.
Next was the Sift Bake House treats, my daughter bought scones. They come down from Sarasota; then, The Flower Guy with gorgeous fresh flowers. Across from them were Heirloom Vegetable Seeds. I almost bought some black olive loaf bread from the Naples Breads and Pastries, but I will next week to welcome home my Marine granddaughter. She grew up loving it.
Smoke Signal Meats were cooking and sampling their sausage links, and then I had to sample the gourmet dip mixes for pretzels and sweet dips for the animal crackers. Andy's Island Seafood was next. In the corner was a table with two people handling checks, charges and debit cards. You need cash for your purchases, so financing to receive cash is handled here.
Across the back are the fragrant handmade soaps. There is a fresh squeezed lemonade stand on the way and New Leaf cheeses, honey, jams, and vinegars. In that back left corner is the Pickle Man with his Happy Pickles. He is generally worth the entertainment ambiance. Only last Tuesday he was quiet and my daughter said, he was much too busy. We talked with the guacamole gentleman in the very corner and bought salsa, by then the Pickle Man was back to mixing and singing away. We bought blue cheese stuffed olives, having already bought the spicy sweet pickles the week before. Their kick sneaks up on you.
Next, I had bought hot pepper jelly before here and hadn't finished it, but I must remember to save the jar for a refund with my next purchase. These jellies are prepared by the Secret Family Recipes, LLC, of Cape Coral. Then the Sipping Cottage gift baskets and accessories (coffees and teas), across from the Bark Street Bakery (dog treats). Micro greens and worm tea were beside the Hemp, Bamboo and Things. Bamboo bowls and clothing along with pop top rings made into purses and jewelry. Cupcakes, baked goods, bread pudding, German Bread and Pretzels, Ernesto and Luigi's low sodium Pomodora tomato sauce, plus produce shops throughout these inside shops. I got the best, largest, firmest tomatoes, while my daughter got two seedless watermelons. She had bought corn from a precious little towheaded lad whose mantra was, "we got corn, we got corn!"
We had such a good time!
Tomorrow, Saturday June 22, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., is another chance for a good time. It is called, "Taste of the Gardens," not to be confused with the next week-ends "Taste of Lee," held June 29.
Taste of the Gardens is presented by the "Roots Heritage Urban Food Hub," a 501c3 non-profit organization, at 3903 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. This is your chance to sample fresh garden fare, ethnic and culinary delights, juices, teas and grilling samples. Tour their beautiful 5 acre garden farm. The Hub was created to provide and promote urban food production, distribution, and education. Family favorite recipes from Caribbean, Creole/Cajun, and deep south traditions will be featured in cooking demonstrations by graduating trainees.
Their farm's produce stand is open daily. Established 3 years ago to make fresh produce available in an area that lacked it, so that their community could eat healthier. Gardeners sell what they grow on site at the produce stand.
It was founded by Yvonne Hill in 2010 and has grown with the support of the city of Fort Myers and agricultural guidance from the University of Florida extension. The produce stand was a joint project made possible by donations from our fellow Periwinkle Garden Club and FineMark Bank.
Thank a tree for our fresh air! (a little hug wouldn't hurt)
Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast, District IX Federated Garden Arbor Day chairman and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.