A new farmer’s market in Sweetwater brings small businesses to the city to sell their goods while offering residents something new to do on Saturday mornings.
The market evolved from the Doral farmer’s market, which has been open a little more than a year Sunday mornings on a shopping center parking lot at Northwest 97th Avenue and 41st Street. The Sweetwater market sets up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays at Ronselli Park, at Southwest 114th Avenue and Second Street.
Residents who live near the park can walk over and get fresh produce, juices, flowers and other specialty items.
Francisca Garcia, 55, lives near the park and visited the market with husband Ramon Hernandez, 65, when it opened this month. She visited again with her son, riding his bike alongside her.
“Last week, my husband bought a bunch of things,” she said. “The market is pretty nice.”
The Sweetwater markets also accepts U.S. government food stamps.
Sweetwater market gives vendors a new neighborhood to test out their products as they grow their businesses.
Fernando Marquez, 25, started his business, Coco Market, a few months ago with his younger brother, Alonso, and their uncle, Jesus Loreto.
The Marquezes’ parents own a coconut plantation in Venezuela, so it seemed ideal for them to sell frozen coconut smoothies, as well as coconut candies and sweets that are traditional in Latin America.
They began selling at the Doral market about six weeks ago, and recently started attending the Sweetwater market. Their products are very popular among the local shoppers.
“The people who come to the farmer’s market come for this kind of stuff,” Fernando Marquez said.
Dawn Enningham, who lives near Homestead with daughter Sharene, recently started a juice business, Naturally Freed Juice.
Enningham, who works at tech worker at Baptist Health, invested in a trailer so she can blend juices out of fruits and vegetables. She launched her business on the opening day of the Sweetwater market and enjoys the exposure and relaxed environment.
“This is something new,” she said. “To be manageable, I wanted to take it slow.”
Danny Kaskel, the manager for both markets, started the Doral location when he noticed some shopping plazas were closed Sundays. He looked at a Miami Springs market as a guide and invited the vendors there to also sell in Doral.
Eventually, local vendors popped up in Doral, and Kaskel expects that same thing to happen in Sweetwater.
The markets are sustained by the participation fees vendors pay to set up tents. For-profit businesses pay up to $30 dollars to participate and nonprofits can set up for free.
The biggest challenge so far has been the adjustment in selling between these two different communities.
“The biggest challenge are the demographics,” Kaskel said. “Doral has a certain clientele that vendors are used to.”
The Sweetwater market attracts people from nearby neighborhoods, including Westchester and Fountainbleau, Kaskel said.
Gabriela Ramirez of Magas Designers said she likes selling her jewelry at Ronselli Park because she can let her 2-year-old son, Enrique, play safely in the kid’s park while she works.
“That’s what’s nice about these types of things,” she said.