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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

From fields to fork: A list of local farmers markets

A guide to seven hotspots for groceries and a good time

<p>Farmers meet with community organizers to promote their recent harvest to the public at Cypress &amp; Grove Brewing Company on Monday, May 8, 2023. <br/><br/></p>

Farmers meet with community organizers to promote their recent harvest to the public at Cypress & Grove Brewing Company on Monday, May 8, 2023.

As temperatures rise and flowers burst into bloom, farmers markets grow in product and patron size. This guide lists seven bustling markets in Gainesville and High Springs that invite springtime with open arms.

Grove Street Farmers Market

Monica Albert, the former owner of The Sisters Restaurant in The Haile Village Center, closed down the food joint in 2014 leaving customers “wanting more.” Gleaning inspiration from a local farmers market, Haile Farmers Market, near her restaurant, she decided to create the Grove Street Farmers Market at Cypress & Grove Brewing Co., 1001 NW 4th St.

Grove Street, which initially hosted ten weekly vendors, now sees 92 vendors and more than 1,000 patrons every week, Albert said. It’s considered a “growers and makers-only market,” where all the goods are locally sourced. Staple items sold include organic leafy greens, cheeses, Latin-Caribbean dishes, jewelry and floral-scented candles. It also runs fundraisers to contribute money to local charities.

“We're there to create the best vendor experience, which in turn, makes for a great community,” Albert said.

Grove Street Farmers Market is open Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m.

Union Street Farmers Market

In its current location at Bo Diddley Plaza, the Union Street Farmers Market has undergone a series of changes since its establishment in 1996. 

Charles Lybrand, a local farmer, and his wife originally were honey vendors at another Gainesville market, Alachua County Farmers’ Market, before establishing Union Street Farmers Market. They created the Union Street Farmers Market to cope with product restrictions some markets were enforcing.

“I felt I needed to have an alternative for people that want to sell,” Lybrand said. “We just wanted to open it up a little bit more.”

After closing in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Street reopened at Bo Diddley in October 2023. At the market, 28 vendors sell locally-grown produce while local musicians perform on the open brick stage.

It’s open from 4 to 7 p.m Wednesdays.

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Celebration Pointe Farmers Market

Celebration Pointe Farmers Market is the most recent addition to the cornucopia of markets present in Gainesville. After residents of housing communities close to the shopping center, Celebration Pointe, voiced their desire for an easily accessible place to purchase produce, the market opened in October 2023. 

Hanna De La Garza, the digital media and events coordinator of Celebration Pointe, has spearheaded the market’s creation. While a student at UF, De La Garza said she enjoyed visiting local markets.

“It's definitely a learning experience for all of us like myself,” De La Garza said about the new farmers market. “We're used to being the venue where people host their events, but not necessarily us hosting events.”

With about 20 vendors, the market hopes to expand the number of produce providers, De La Garza said.

“[Celebration Pointe] has always been shopping, dining and entertainment heavy,” De La Garza said. “We also want to support smaller businesses.”

The Celebration Pointe Farmers Market is open from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays at 4949 Celebration Pointe Ave.

GNV Farmers Market

The GNV Farmers Market was established in 2021 when local markets shut down during the pandemic. Since then, it’s acted as a one-stop shop for groceries, goods and community. 

Located at South Main Station, the venue attracts large groups of families and friends who enjoy the local live music in collaboration with Heartwood Soundstage. 

Twenty vendors each week sell locally-produced eggs and meats, vintage clothing, freshly baked cakes and fruit smoothies. Monthly, an additional 15 vendors come to sell crafts like on-site pottery making.

Bianca Williams has been working as the market’s manager for the past year. Under her leadership, the market is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization.

“We are trying to provide a family-oriented, safe place for people to bring their kids and their pets while simultaneously offering the core weekly [grocery] staples,” Williams said.

The GNV Farmers Market is open from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays.

High Springs Farmers Market

Right outside of Gainesville, the town of High Springs hosts a weekly farmers market, which has become a community staple since its creation in the 1990s.

The High Springs Farmers Market is the first and only local market to utilize plastic tokens as currency. When a customer uses up cash, they can buy tokens using a credit card and exchange them for goods.

Customers can use tokens, or cash, to purchase microgreens, flavor-infused honey, fishes, meats and various other goods from 31 vendors.

Carol Rowan, the market manager, has been working for more than 15 years in various roles. Welcoming guests with a friendly smile at the front of the market, she admires the relationships built between patrons and vendors.

“The community is one family,” Rowan said. “They all know each other, they chit chat and they can be here all day.”

The High Springs Farmers Market is open from 3 p.m. to dusk Fridays at 23517 NW 185th Road in downtown High Springs.

Haile Farmers Market

Founded more than 25 years ago by two current vendors, the Haile Farmers Market has seen exponential growth over the years.

Now, hosting around 60 vendors, the market provides locals with produce, fish, prepared foods and crafts and live music.

Pamela Worsham frequented local farmers markets before becoming the market manager. In her position, she works to emphasize the importance of community.

“It's the community feeling that… differentiates it from some of the other [farmers markets],” Worsham said. “It's just a pleasant atmosphere that almost feels like a little European market.”

Each year, Worsham said she conducts inspections for each vendor to ensure that all farmers and producers are creating their products themselves.

Haile Farmers Market is open 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays at 5213 SW 91st Terrace.

Alachua County Farmers Market

The Alachua County Farmers Market is the longest-standing market in the community, beginning at a downtown parking lot in 1972. 

Each week, 50 vendors at the “growers and makers-only market” sell everything from fresh greens and meats to homemade baked goods.

Robin Jones, a vegetable farmer, has been involved with Alachua County Farmers Market for more than 35 years. She said she helped her aunt and uncle sell their produce at the market until she eventually became a vendor herself.

“Without the market, I wouldn't be able to make a living at home on my farm,” Jones said. “We have a great integrity for a market and a good local loyal following.”

Amanda Payton frequented the Alachua County Farmers Market with her family as a child until she had a family of her own. Now as the market’s manager, Payton continues to support the market.

“I love the fact that if I am looking to buy my steaks for my family, I can talk to the farmer who processes it,” Payton said. “It makes me feel a lot more comfortable knowing where it's coming from and who I'm getting it from.”

The market also hosts a festival every quarter year. This April, it will host a Sustainability Festival for Earth Day in partnership with Florida Heritage Foods. 

Alachua County Farmers’ Market is open 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays at the intersection of US 441 and 34th Street.

Contact Molly Seghi at mseghi@alligator.org. Follow her on X @molly_seghi.

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Molly Seghi

Molly Seghi is a first-year journalism major at UF and a Fall 2023 Avenue Reporter. When not writing or journaling, she can be found at a live music event or working on her podcast “An Aural Account.”


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