The “eat local” mantra makes sense. Not only is out-of-state produce picked prematurely in order to survive the long hauls, but transporting goods over long distances adds to their cost and negatively impacts the environment. Thanks to the increasing number of farmers markets across South Florida, produce and other food items are available from local growers, with much of it being organic and/or grown sustainably. From Palm Beach to the Keys, there’s bound to be a farmers market near you.
In Palm Beach, the Riverwalk Green & Artisan Market features a large produce selection, as well as local artisans selling everything from jam to clothing. The Delray Beach GreenMarket, now in its 10th year, has more than 65 produce vendors, offering fresh squeezed juice; farm fresh eggs; raw milk and butter; baked goods (many of them gluten-free); and 100 percent grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free, Florida-grown beef, poultry, pork and lamb. The live musical entertainment makes for a festive weekly atmosphere, too.
The Dania Beach PATCH Market Garden specializes in organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables, many of which have been grown by area students in a program that introduces young people to gardening. The Las Olas Sunday Market not only includes local and organic produce, but also locally grown orchids, raw organic treats, fresh baked goods (many gluten-free), French pottery and soy candles, among many other products. Tamarac’s Community Farmers Market in Veterans Park offers a cross between a county fair and a farmers market offering kettle corn, ice cream and barbecue, in addition to the local produce and artisanal goods.
Miami-Dade has a wide variety of farmers markets that sell everything from fresh produce to artisanal items. The Aventura Green Market takes place on Saturdays at Founders Park. Lincoln Road in Miami Beach is another popular shopping destination with a weekly farmers market. There, you can buy fresh ceviche and guacamole in addition to locally grown produce, jams and jellies Verde Community Farm & Market, built at the former Homestead Air Force Base, is part of a program that teaches formerly homeless families how to farm.
In the Keys, most farmers markets are open seasonally, but a number of grocers, like The Urbn Grdn (sic) in Islamorada, The Good Food Conspiracy Store in Big Pine Key and Help Yourself in Key West, sell produce from local farmers.
If the sight of all that fresh food makes you want to run for the farm, then you’re in luck. Several local farms serve up delicious meals right on the premises. “Dinner in Paradise” at Paradise Farms in Homestead features five-course meals prepared by the area’s top chefs. Local, organic products are paired with fine wines and served under the stars. This year the farm is donating proceeds to Lotus House, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women, youth and children. For more information, visit paradisefarms.net.
Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee Groves offers the “Swank Table,” a multi-course meal served in the fields. Each event is themed and benefits a local charity. The remaining dinner Local Picks this season is themed “Prime Cuts: A Beef Lover’s Paradise,” and proceeds benefit Food for the Poor. For more information, visit swankspecialtyproduce.com.
Chillbar, at Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood, isn’t exactly dining on the farm, but it’s as close as you can get without leaving the city. The open-air café serves up late breakfast, lunch and early dinner Thursday through Sunday. The internationally inspired menu features everything from stuffed grape leaves to Creole frog legs for appetizers. Other options include salads, sandwiches, burgers and assorted breakfast fare. The desserts and exotic cocktail menu are both quite tempting. For more information, visit