why we live in florida: open-air markets in january

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As a native New England survivor of the Blizzard of 1976, I’m so very thankful for our coastal Florida sunshine.  Do you know that for the 18 weeks Boca Grande Farmers Market has been operating to date, we’ve not had ONE Friday with rain or seriously inclement weather?  Perhaps the wonderful warm shores of Gasparilla Island are welcoming our 100% increase in our 2014/2015 Season One foot traffic on Farmers Market Fridays.  Yes, we are now DOUBLE our initial number of guests and visitors.  The vendor businesses thank you for your open arms, suntanned as they may be.

The start of the new year brought other exciting developments.  In addition to developing and formulating plans for further establishing a food culture on our remote barrier island, market organizers wrote and submitted two originally conceived grant proposals at the national level to further grow agritourism in Southwest Florida, Charlotte & Lee counties, and the surrounding area.  We’ll keep you posted on those initiatives as they grow.

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We relentlessly continue our marketing efforts by reaching out to many grassroots organizations, by welcoming a Sign Waver to our downtown marketplace, through partnering with local businesses such as Boca Grande Taxi Service, by advertising on many web indexes, and by participating on the broader scale in groups that can help solidify benefits to the public.  One such organization, The Greenhorns, is a seven-year old grassroots group that works to support new farmers in America. Their goals over the next generation are to retrofit the food system and to build a thriving agricultural economy, for healthy regions, healthy watersheds, and a healthy farm culture.  And they liked what we were doing in our little corner of the world so much, that they welcomed us as a Florida component.  Together, we believe our movement can succeed with strong communication, solid business skills, sustainable farm practices and importantly, teamwork.

January 2015 was also critical in terms of networking and expertise building.  I spent a lovely afternoon over at Miller’s Dockside with Rebecca Howe, a former founder of the Westport, CT Farmers Market and a soon-to-be established island resident, yes the one and the same market originally sponsored by Actor Paul Newman.  What Rebecca had to share in terms of uncompromising quality and raising the bar on organics, farm of origin, and customer service will dynamically change the way we make offerings in 2015/2016 Season Two.

So, I’ll leave you to your sinister scoffing of the snow drifts and the snow plows.  Here’s a quick rundown of what’s on ice for February where we’ll be welcoming new Toffee and Kettle corn vendors.

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Friday, January 30 – Marie Dyer presents scarf painting workshops. Pre-orders for exceptional Valentine’s Roses may be made with the flower vendor, John from Lulu’s Wholesale.

Monday, February 2 – Boca Grande Farmers Market Presents Cardoos Catering with Distinction at the 2015 Taste of Boca in support of the Southwest Florida Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Friday, February 6 – Dynamic Dog Sitting Service begins.  No more lonely, unattended dogs at our family fun in the sun.

Friday, February 13 – We welcome The Island School in their market day field trip.  Students will learn not only about Fresh from Florida farms, agriculture, and foods, but also about the economy of the marketplace.

Wednesday, February 18 – PLEASE join us at the Community Center Auditorium from 10a – 12 noon for our 1st Annual Open Public Forum.  Here’s YOUR opportunity to let your light shine and your voice be heard regarding your feedback about the new Farmers Market.

Tuesday, February 24 – Join experienced travel agent Joyce Olsen and friends out of North Port for a field trip to the Ft. Myers ECHO Urban Farm.  Call 941/426-7816 and mention BGFM.

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