Fresh from Florida ….. to Florida
I recently embarked on a new venture while I am out of town on business and visiting family throughout Florida. Since I despise sitting in a hotel room, love seeing new places and eat on a regular basis, I have taken on the task of visiting as many local produce stands in my immediate vicinity as is possible. In the process, I plan to glean some information as to how we can work to increase locally Florida grown produce consumption, while helping these businesses to understand the purpose behind the Fresh from Florida logo.
The first stop on the Florida produce tour was Storman’s Produce on US 19 in Homossassa. Jessica Storman (above right) and Jennifer LoPresti (left) were on hand to answer questions at Storman’s market. A conveniently located open-air stand, Stormans has been in operation for over twenty years. Humble beginnings selling fruit from a pickup truck, they now operate a successful business featuring local Florida grown fruits and vegetables and Indian River Citrus. A “Buy Fresh from Florida” poster entices customers in from the busy intersection.
Plant City strawberries, Florida onions, peppers and tomatoes, local lemons and Indian River Citrus are proudly displayed to locals and tourists seeking good fresh produce.
Employees made good use of Fresh from Florida bin wrap and commodity price cards, laminated so they can be re-used several times with dry-erase markers. It’s nice to see our marketing items being put to such good use. Even the huge cedar tree within the stand is incorporated into a fixture to market fruit.
Another hour north on US 19, April & Jeff’s Farmers Market is another open-air stand bursting with vibrant yellows, oranges and deep reds under the Florida sun. Citrus and strawberries catch the eyes and slow the traffic just north of Chiefland, where Jeff and April Williams operate their stand with the help of their sons.
As I stated my purpose and identified myself as an employee of the Florida Department of Agriculture, Jeff immediately asked, “Do you have a list of citrus suppliers?” I hadn’t planned on being needed so quickly.
April’s family has been in the produce business since 1947 in Pinellas County and the West Coast of Florida. In addition to the daily operation they also sell produce at the Tampa Downtown Market on Fridays, a weekly effort to promote a healthy lifestyle to Tampa’s downtown workforce laboring in the high rise buildings overhead.
Purveyors of local honey from Lake City and Hot Sauce from Ozello Island, the Williams family was busy restocking Florida grown Cauliflower, South Florida tomatoes, peppers and onions under the tent while customers perused the flats of strawberries and bagged citrus.
The thing that stood out to me is how proud the Storman’s and Williams’ families are of the businesses they have built. I must say I envy them. The hard work, dedication and pride they exhibit is what brings me to these roadside markets.
So do yourself a favor and check out the local produce scene whenever and wherever you can. I’ll be along sooner or later.