One of the great things about the Paradise Coast green and farmers markets is the sense of community they foster. Not only does it create a marketplace for the local crafters, chefs and growers, but connects shoppers directly to producers, creating a bond that is normally lacking in a traditional store setting. Below, we spotlight a few local vendors that are doing great things here in Southwest Florida.
Have a vendor spotlight recommendation? Drop us a line in the comments below.
Collier Family Farms is a USDA-certified organic farm located in Ave Maria now entering its third growing season. Dedicated to sustainable farming practices and the community spirit inherent of small-town farming, Collier Family Farms is not only a stalwart at the Third Street South Farmer’s Market, but during harvest season, runs a Farm Stand at the farm, as well as running a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. Specializing in veggies and fruits that thrive in Southwest Florida, look for eggplant, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, peppers, cabbage, lettuces and kale, radishes, onions, potatoes, citrus, blueberries and watermelon. And lest we forget, that USDA-certified organic stamp of approval means everything is pesticide-free and non-GMO.
- Collier Family Farms produce can be found at the Third Street South Farmer’s Market and the farm’s store, Farm Stand, in Ave Maria.
Bath & Beauty
Most have heard of farm-to-fork. But what about farm-to-soap? That’s the onus behind The Herb Appeal, an all-natural beauty, and bath and body company based in Fort Myers. Specializing in salves and balms, soaps, scrubs, bath and spa products, essential oils, laundry powder detergent, and more – the product list is constantly growing as new products are developed in the “herbal kitchen.” Using all natural ingredients and herbs grown in proprietor Jeannine’s own garden, everything sold is free of synthetic ingredients and preservative chemicals, while still maintaining an affordable sticker price. What’s more, everything is handmade, giving each and every product an artisan’s touch.
- The Herb Appeal can be found at Neighborhood Organics art the Shoppes at Vanderbilt Farmer’s Market and on Etsy.
Natural & Organic
Imbuing an Old World sense of farming, Inyoni Farms on the western edge of Naples is one of the best growers around. The six-acre plot is USDA-certified organic and tended by Nick Batty, who’s practice begins with the seed, nurtures up to 50 different varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Depending on season, customers will find beets, collards, chard, greens, spinach, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, onions, artichokes, broccoli, sweet corn, potatoes, zucchini, edible flowers, sprouts, citrus, and more.
- Inyoni Farms can be found at four different green markets during growing season: Third Street South, Marco Island Farmer’s Market, St. Monica’s Farmers’ Market and Shoppes of Vanderbilt.
For the Dogs
If it were up to the four-legged members of the family, the only reason to head to the weekend farmers markets is to visit Top Dog Kitchen. Proponents of taking gourmet cuisine to the dogs, Top Dog Kitchen specializes in jerky treats made with premium and grass-fed cuts of meat (and sweet potato), and no added preservatives, chemicals, sugars, salts, fats or dyes, as well baked treats made with whole ground oats and peanut butter (corn, wheat and soy free). Meaning all that’s left is gourmet, healthy treats that are not only good for Fido, but will make for a happy pooch to boot.
- Top Dog Kitchen can be found at Third Street South and Shoppes at Vanderbilt Farmer’s Markets, as well as at their store in the Pelican Larry’s plaza (7795 Davis Blvd.).
Black Bee Coffee brings new meaning to fresh cup of coffee. Selling locally roasted, organic coffee, Black Bee sources their beans from fair-trade, shade grown plantations, some being women run co-ops and Rain Forest Alliance-certified, ensuring that each cup was crafted and grown with care.
- Black Bee Coffee can be found at the Third Street South Farmer’s Market.
Raw & Sweet
For those adhering to a raw diet know how vital a fresh supply of raw honey can be. Not only is it super-sticky, acting as a natural bonding agent, the sweetness is a great substitute for sugar. That’s not all…honey can act as a natural energy boost, while its antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it must for the first aid kit – the natural moisture also makes it a great aid for rapid burn healing. But wait, there’s more…honey is also packed with antioxidants, making it an excellent aid in digestion and to fight disease. For all your raw honey needs, look no further than Tom May and the Naples Honey Company. Making the rounds between Estero, Marco Island and Naples farmers markets every week [get the full schedule here], the Naples Honey Company specializes in local, raw honey from bees doing their best to pollinate Southwest Florida. Depending on season, and what’s blooming, shoppers can expect to see honey derived from orange blossom, saw palmetto, and wildflowers.
Let us know if we missed your favorite vendor in the comments below.