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New to Central Florida and Yes! It appears that all "farmers markets" here stink.

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SPaulinVa Jan 26, 2012 08:32 AM

In Virginia, the farmers markets are big business, highly popular and the farmers are respected for the quality of their produce. (If you find yourself near there, try the Falls Church farmers market on Saturday morning). The farmers are local and many of them grow their produce pesticide free and will take the time to talk with you about their produce. They tell you the name of their farms loud and proud and many sell to the local Whole Foods too.

I just moved here and I've been looking for the same thing. I am soooo disappointed. The whole point of a farmers market is that the vendors are local farmers. I heard a snippit of a conversation on NPR with a "florida farmer" and he mentioned that he doesn't have to lower himself to sell at a farmers market. How arrogant and how backward.

I attended the Winter Park and Orlando "farmers markets" where the produce sellers were selling fruits and vegetables from California! How is that different from a tacky supermarket????? I asked one vendor the name of his farm and he said my name is John, John Brown. I said what is the name of the farm, though? He huffed and puffed and said he didn't believe in naming a farm.

I see that the Lake Mary market is the same.

Hey, fellow Floridians, agriculture is a number one industry here. Why are they shipping the good stuff out of state and using all that gas and oil? Why are we eating California produce at all? Its time we demand that these markets jury the vendors and do not support opportunistic, greedy vendors who will sell you crap.

If you know of a real farmers market near Orlando with real, local farmers, please let me know. I think the phrase florida farmer is a myth. Are they just huge scale factory-type farms?

  1. sunshine842 Jan 26, 2012 01:56 PM

    There is a Florida law on the books, courtesy of large growers and distributors, that basically makes it just this side of impossible to have a producers-only farmer's market. Unfortunately, the last time I read about it was a few years ago, I've lost the bookmark, and I don't remember the details...but I remember almost slapping my forehead groaning "THAT'S why!".

    Anyway -- good produce is hard to find, but it does exist. Take a look in the classified ads of the newspaper -- there will usually be some small ads for produce, especially u-pick farms. Look for CSAs -- a trip to a health-food store will usually turn up at least a few likely candidates.

    Tampa has some good options -- so Orlando has to have some, too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842
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      SPaulinVa Jan 26, 2012 02:54 PM

      thanks, sunshine. Well, I am not going to buy anything "fresh" from a large distributor, I am sure about that now. I have seen some coops. Also, in Virginia, they have coop farms where anyone can rent a piece of land from the city or county and grow their own stuff there. Is there anything like that here?

      1. re: SPaulinVa
        sunshine842 Jan 26, 2012 04:10 PM

        it's tough to grow much in the way of food crops on a residential basis - the climate just isn't set for it.

        If you have space in your yard, Florida weather will *usually* support a full-on garden in the winter. This year has been so warm that nobody I know has carrots or radishes, and they're watching their lettuce carefully because it's tending to bolt very early.

        In the summer, all bets are off -- the heat will cook darned near anything right where it stands, then the daily rains will wash it away.

        1. re: sunshine842
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          Rona Gindin Jan 27, 2012 03:54 AM

          I haven't been yet, but I'm hearing great things about Orlando's Homegrown Co-op. It's not a farmers market but it may have the kinds of foods you're looking for. Nearly everything in stock comes from within 50 miles of Orlando. http://homegrown.locallygrown.net

          www.ronagindin.com

        2. re: SPaulinVa
          sunshine842 Jan 27, 2012 04:44 AM

          don't count the distributors out completely -- there are some that go to the big commercial produce markets, and manage some pretty decent stuff. Not as good as small-producer, of course...but better than the supermarket.

      2. y
        YosemiteSam Jan 26, 2012 08:54 AM

        Nope - you're right and there really aren't any better options - check out this link for more of a reason why

        http://www.npr.org/2011/06/28/1373719...

        We have other great things about living down here and there are good restaurants using fresh local produce, but we've given up on the farmer's markets - can't fight big business

        3 Replies
        1. re: YosemiteSam
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          SPaulinVa Jan 26, 2012 09:01 AM

          Thanks Sam. But, if we can't find local, fresh, pesticide-free produce, how can a restaurant do any better? I don't think they do. I did find Hoover's Market in Altamonte Springs, but it is only open the first and third Saturday of each month. I don't want to give up on this. Heck, my cholestral level depends on it.

          1. re: SPaulinVa
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            YosemiteSam Jan 26, 2012 09:59 AM

            I think they might tap into the South Florida farming area - if you go south of Miami to Homestead there are some solid farmer's markets from the huge farms they have down there - plus some great Mexican food from the migrant workers

            A related issue is that we don't really seem to have any great seafood here in C FL either, which is odd since some of the best fishing beds are on both sides of us.

            So as not to completely discourage you, make sure to get over to Plant City in February for the Strawberry Festival for some of the best and super-cheap strawberries you've ever tasted, keep an eye open for local citrus over the next few months, and mostly look into our great ethnic restaurants - you'll find few cities with the diversity of great small individually owned ethnic options like Vietnamese, Indian, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Lebanese, etc. For whatever reason, that's what Orlando will be known as. Go figure....

            If you are really into this, I recommend you contact the guy who runs the Big Wheel Provisions food truck - he's 100% local and a major supporter of eat local, eat organic etc. He's a great guy and will clue you in to where we do have some opportunities for locavore eating

            Also here's a few links that may help

            http://www.bigwheelprovisions.com/home/
            http://www.eatlocalweek.com/
            http://www.facebook.com/SlowFoodOrlando
            http://www.localharvest.org/

            and look for copies of Edible Orlando around town (http://www.edibleorlando.com/)

            1. re: YosemiteSam
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              SPaulinVa Jan 26, 2012 10:09 AM

              thanks! Yes I'm really into it, its just basic good health.

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