Talk to Sarah Vargas these days about the Miami Springs Farmer’s Market and it’s almost like talking to a mother who is watching her young child grow and mature.
The market celebrated last Saturday, March 29, the conclusion of its second full year of providing locals with a terrific venue to enjoy plenty of healthy produce and products, and Vargas could not have been more pleased with how the six-month-long event continued to grow.
“Just a tremendous success again and a lot of the credit goes to the local community for its support,” said Vargas. “We had a definite bump up in vendor participation this past season and the crowds were certainly up as well.”
Vargas credited not only “the word getting out” amongst participating vendors from around South Florida, but the Farmer’s Market’s new location as well.
The first year (2012-13), the market was held over on the west side of the city, in the field along Ludlam Drive on the grounds of All Angels Church, but while Vargas was appreciative of All Angels working with her to provide a venue, the amount of passer-by traffic wasn’t there.
And so, with the cooperation of Miami Springs city officials, the market was moved to the center median on Curtiss Parkway just off the Circle.
“The geography switch made a huge difference as well as the streetlight banners that were put up along Westward Drive and Curtiss Parkway to help promote it and give it more visibility,” said Vargas. “And for that, I simply cannot thank Mayor (Zavier) Garcia, Mr. Gorland (City Manager Ron Gorland), Mr. Nash (Public Works Director Tom Nash) and all of the council members for all of the support they gave to me and the event. It doesn’t happen without their help and cooperation.”
When asked, Vargas did not hesitate when confirming that doing something a second time around is a lot easier than the first time.
“Once you manage to get something off the ground, then you have the model or a product, if you will, for showing other potential vendors of what you have,” said Vargas. “This was a very successful six months and we’re also grateful to all of the people that came out every Saturday to show their support.”
Vargas also touched on something that the Miami Springs area has to offer that other Farmer’s Market venues don’t necessarily have.
“More than one vendor would comment to me on many occasions of how unique Miami Springs was as far as having that small-town atmosphere,” said Vargas. “One vendor commented to me one day, ‘We didn’t know a little town like this’ even existed in South Florida. And the big thing there is that once vendors start to talk among themselves and a buzz is created about your event, they show up.”
With the momentum of the Miami Springs Farmer’s Market clearly established, Vargas left little doubt it will be back.
“We’ve already got our opening date, Oct. 4, and we’re looking forward to continuing to build,” said Vargas. “The one thing I really want to try and focus on during our offseason months will be to not necessarily increase our number of vendors so much as to try and just get more local businesses involved. I understand that a farmer’s market is not for all of them but many could benefit from it and my goal is to really tighten that up and get as many of them as possible involved in the event.”
Vargas said that it’s also her intention to get a grassroots food movement going.
“What I’d like to do is try and make sure more local Florida products are represented,” said Vargas. “And also to explore more non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) products being made available. To get more actual growers on site rather than actual distributors.”
No matter what kind of, or how many, vendors will be there, the third installment of the Miami Springs Farmer’s Market is well on the way for next October.
“We grew the event between year one and year two and now we want to continue to grow it between year two and three,” said Vargas.