The Farmer’s Market: A Community United
Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 2:28 p.m.
Open for Business
The sickly sweet smell of harvest sunflowers permeates the air as lively acoustic music dodges in between stands. Babies walk barefoot while sucking on sorbet pops and businesswomen take pleasure in an outdoor smoke.
Everyone’s all smiles at the Union Street Farmer’s Market. Every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m., local farmers and vendors sell their wares to the community.
The delicious and the eclectic can be found here. From hand bags, jewelry, freshly picked vegetables and fruits to homemade bakery items, there’s a little something for everybody.
As a hoard of people set up stands along downtown’s Union Street, it looks like the winter rain wouldn’t quell the energetic atmosphere.
Students with hippie-like, liberated looks gander at the knit hats as Jennifer Brodzik looks on. She sets up shop with her good friend at the market every Wednesday and sells hand-sewn wine bags. She’s been sewing for eight years.
“Zippers are hard,” Brodzik says about sewing, “And when you have to line things up.”
Some more people peer into her tent, chatting all the while. Friends are made here and are kept here. The variety of people living in Gainesville is apparent instantly, and that variety is suddenly unified in the bustling marketplace.
“It’s a great community,” Brodzik adds with a soft laugh.
Far Away Focaccia
Past the Sweet Dreams Homemade Ice Cream stand (where the sorbet travels to the market by an ice cream fire truck), lays a pile of breads and pastries. It is an hour and a half drive to the Market from Jacksonville, where Maria’s Bakery is based. The vendor is tired, but seems excited every time he sells a loaf.
These baked goods sell like hotcakes, especially the forever-popular focaccia bread.
Damian Caraballo stands behind his tempeh stand. Tempeh, a fermented food made by soybeans, seems to be the healthier version of tofu.
“This has been something my dad has been making for as long as I can remember,” Caraballo said.
They are the local business for tempeh in Gainesville. Every restaurant in town that sells tempeh has gotten it from Jose’s Tempeh Shop. Caraballo says that the curry tempeh at the local Reggae Shack restaurant must be tried by all.
He has been at the market for a couple of months now and finds the one-on-one interaction between vendor and customer to be very important.
“People here have a higher concern for local business,” he says, “It’s a lot more human. They value the quality of the products.”
Julie Burden from the Sweetwater Shop agrees.
“It’s nice to see people purchasing what we’ve grown instead of going to Publix.”
Burden sells coffee right next to the tempeh stand.
“[It’s] really ethical coffee. It’s all organic…we’re not hurting anybody by selling it.”
Chinese Honey and Kumquats
Marion and Betty Holder have been selling their citrus at the Market since its start in 1996. In the past ten years, they’ve made an abundance of close friends.
Not very hard to believe as they smiled and handed out samples like they were candy on Halloween.
They sell small baskets full for a dollar each, grapefruits for three dollars a bushel.
The Chinese Honey citrus, which taste like sweet tangerines, are the fast sellers and the kumquats are the ones that puzzle audiences. They look like tiny oranges.
“The round ones are sweet,” Mr. Holder said, picking one up between his two fingers, “And you don’t peel them! You’re supposed to eat them whole.”
The Holders own three acres of citrus trees and heads full of citrus knowledge.
“These are Ponkans,” Mr. Holder said, holding up the sweet navel encased in orange flesh, “Translated, it means ‘puffy fruit.’”
Their customers always leave sticky and satisfied.
Drizzling at Sunset
If I got one thing from the whole experience, I got a sense of unabashed togetherness. These farmers, sewers, bakers and jewelers appreciate the local business. Gainesville is a town full of hardworking, soft-hearted individuals that practice sustainability. They believe in their talents and respect the land that grants them fruits for their labor.
Buy locally. You never know who you’re going to meet along the way and what amazing stories you’ll hear.
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