Delicious Tastes and Delightful Times: Local Farmers Markets Offer Fresh Produce and Much MoreJul 11, 2022 09:41AM ● By Ann Marie O'Phelan
A local farmers market is an asset to any community. It allows shoppers not only to find a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, make organic choices, get advice on various foods and how to enjoy them, but also partake in community bonding.
The Local Roots Farmers Markets have become anchors for Southwest Florida communities, and the 2022-23 season will be the venture’s 15th year operating both seasonal and year-round markets in the area. All told, Local Roots runs nine open-air markets: Sanibel; Captiva; River District, Lakes Park, and Sanibel Outlets in Fort Myers; Coconut Point in Estero; Boca Grande; Babcock Ranch; and Bonita Springs.
“Come shop with us to meet your local farmers, chefs, food artisans, and local crafters. Learn about foods grown in our area and catch up with friends and neighbors. There is truly something for everyone at our markets,” says co-owner Betsy Ventura, who founded Local Roots with Jean Baer in 2008. Some of the markets are pet friendly, such as those located on Captiva, the Promenade Shops in Bonita Springs, Coconut Point, River District, and the Sanibel Outlets. Others allow service dogs only.
Another great choice is the Cape Coral Farmers Market. The Saturday morning community destination is one of the largest markets in the state and one of the longest-running markets in Southwest Florida. “During the season, we host up to 150 fantastic vendors who offer a large selection of local and healthy produce, homemade foods, baked goods, specialty foods, and unique crafts,” says Claudia St. Onge, business manager at the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce.
The market hosts three stages of music every week and provides an outlet for nonprofits, school groups, authors, and local artists. It is one of the few markets in the state that accepts EBT (electronic benefit transfer) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. Plus, it is an outlet for Fresh Access Bucks, a statewide nutrition incentive program, offering Double Dollars for EBT customers.
Many community members meet up every Saturday and enjoy breakfast, a cup of coffee, or a smoothie from one of the food vendors or food trucks at the Cape Coral market. It is dog friendly and has numerous pet vendors.
“We are privileged to have the most loyal customers of Southwest Florida,” says St. Onge. Plus, there are other Cape Coral farmers markets to choose from, including theSurfside Sunshine Market at the Shops at Surfside on Tuesday afternoons and the Mid-Cape Farmers Market at Mercola Market every Sunday.
At the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers, weekends brighten up the 10-acre campus with the year-round GreenMarket, which recently switched from Saturdays to Sundays. “We offer live entertainment by local musicians, fun activities for the kids, gardening classes, and cooking demonstrations by local chefs,” says market manager Steven Ceracche. The market has fresh local produce, artisanal foods, edible and landscape plants, and one-of-a-kind gifts, as well as live music, art, plenty of shade, great vibes, and community spirit.
Shangri-La Springs, a historic hotel on eight acres in Bonita Springs, sells seasonal vegetables and fruits from its 4½-acre, USDA-certified organic garden. On Thursdays during season shoppers can purchase foods from the garden right outside of the hotel property. The fresh choices include perennial cooking greens, herbs, seasonal fruits, and leafy annual greens.
“Those same vegetables and fruits are featured on the brunch menu at our restaurant, Harvest & Wisdom,” says chief marketing officer Bill Oberman.
Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.
A Local Farmers Market Compendium
Alliance for the Arts GreenMarket, Fort Myers—Organic foods, baked goods, cheeses, arts and crafts, fresh flowers, plants, eggs, seafood, herbs, nuts, honey, jams, and more.
All Cape Coral Farmers Markets—Fresh local produce, baked goods, made-on-site guacamole, salsas, homemade jams and jellies, pickles and olives, cheeses, take-home foods, and more.
Captiva Farmers Market—Fresh local produce, seafood, cheese, pickles, orchids, cut flowers, native plants, prepared foods, soaps, candles, guacamole, smoothies, meats, and more.
Coconut Point Farmers Market, Estero—Fresh local produce, seafood, meats, cut flowers, locally harvested honey, and baked goods. Also, soaps, candles, hand-woven baskets, and hats.
Lakes Park Farmers Market, Fort Myers—Fresh local produce, fresh seafood, native plants, cut flowers, artisan foods, and more.
River District Farmers Market, Fort Myers—Fresh local produce, baked goods, cheese, fresh flowers, seafood, herbs, jams, meats, plants, and more.
Sanibel Island Farmers Market—Fresh local produce, fresh breads, honey, seafood, meats, flowers, cheese, and more.
Sanibel Outlets Farmer Market, Fort Myers—Fresh local produce, flowers, seafood, prepared food, BBQ, pastries, baked goods, cheese, honey, meats, acai bowls, and more.
Shangri-La Springs organic produce market, Bonita Springs—Fresh, certified organic produce, such as tomatoes, eggplant, kale, carrots, onions, collard greens, and peppers, as well as organic loofah, and more.
IF YOU GO
Shangri-La Springs organic produce market
27750 Old 41 Road
Thursdays during season
Cape Coral Farmers Market
SE 47th Terrace and SE 10th Place
Surfside Sunshine Market
The Shops at Surfside
Veterans Parkway and Surfside Blvd.
Mid-Cape Farmer’s Market
125 SW 3rd Place
Captiva Island Farmers Market
Near the entrance to South Seas Island Resort
5400 Plantation Road
Tuesdays, October-May, 9am-1pm
Coconut Point Farmers Market
Coconut Point Mall
23106 Fashion Drive
Thursdays, October-April, 9am-1pm
Alliance for the Arts GreenMarket
10091 McGregor Blvd.
Sundays, 9am-1pm, year-round
Lakes Park Farmers Market
7330 Gladiolus Drive
Wednesdays, October-April, 9am-1pm
River District Farmers Market
Centennial Park (under the Caloosahatchee Bridge)
2000 W. 1st Street
Thursdays, year-round, 9am-1pm
Sanibel Outlets Farmers Market
20350 Summerlin Road
Fridays, January-April, 9am-1pm
Sanibel Island Farmers Market
Sanibel City Hall
800 Dunlop Road
Sundays, October-May, 8am-1pm