The calendar has flipped to November, bringing crisp, blue days, returning snowbirds, and on Wednesday morning, the Farmers' Market.
Marco's favorite outdoor emporium returned on Nov. 7 to Veterans' Community Park, giving residents a chance to stroll the booths, sample the wide array of merchandise, and bump into people they hadn't seen in months.
Vendors were out before dawn, finding their spots on the grass, setting out baskets of tomatoes, brewing and drinking coffee, preparing for the season's first wave of customers. Back for a fourth year, the Farmers' Market has sold out all available spots for merchants, and has a waiting list, said Debbie McCabe, special events administrator for the city's Parks and Recreation department.
Along with returning favorites, a number of new sellers are making their debut. Summer Day Café, Fire & Rice, Philly Grille, Del & Mel Restaurant, Falafel Grill and Wild Heritage Farm have added their aromas to the food court. Wook's Beef Jerky, Nancy Dowdall Photography, Scent Sense, and Fiddle Bow Knife are new this year.
At the Fiddle Bow Knife booth, Marco resident Jerry Oppenberg demonstrated his products, cutting improbably thin slices of bagel and tomato with an old-fashioned knife made from a bandsaw blade, with handcrafted wooden cutting boards to match. Kirsten May at Naples Honey Co. said her husband, Tom May, is the beekeeper, as well as a cellist with the Naples Philharmonic.
"Our honey is all local, raw, and unpasteurized," said Kirsten, so the health benefits are not cooked out of it. At Evi's Bakery, featuring German pastries, the health benefits take a back seat to scrumptious taste. Another taste of foreign lands came from the British Market, where Don Messina offered traditional English favorites including steak and kidney pie, bangers, and black, white, and plum puddings.
The market features not one but two dog bakeries, offering treats for Fido, plus Beach Dogs, for frankfurter fanciers. But along with the crystals, lotions, jewelry, pottery and photography, a farmers' market has to have farmers, and there were plenty of those on hand. Whether they came from farms hidden in the rural interior of Marco Island, or more likely areas such as Immokalee, North Fort Myers and Ruskin, agricultural vendors, some speaking only Spanish, had plenty of local produce.
Pyramids of tomatoes, bouquets of flowers, baskets of peppers, zucchini, corn, lettuce, radishes, baby bananas and cilantro created bright still lifes. Residents made the circuit of booths, becoming laden down with bags once they made their choices.
Sam Spina wore his bicycle helmet, just to be safe, and said he was empty-handed only because he wanted to see everything before he came back to buy – and it all had to fit onto his bike.
The Farmers' Market runs every Wednesday through April, from 7:30 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon.