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Local Roots unveils online farmers market as another shopping option

By Staff | Apr 7, 2020

The owners and operators of the farmers markets on Sanibel and Captiva announced an option for shopping for household necessities that makes it easier for the community to keep sheltering in place.

On April 2, Local Roots – which runs nine markets across Lee County, including the two on the islands – launched an online farmers market, in conjunction with Gourmet Blends and Jimmy’s Java.

“We’ve seen much less attendance to the markets because of people staying home because of the coronavirus,” island resident Jean Baer, co-owner of Local Roots with fellow islander Betsy Ventura, said. “So we wanted to create an easy way for people to get products without physically coming.”

She continued that many of their vendors sell seasonal products that are prepared in advance in large quantities like honey, jellies and jarred sauces, so the online option also improves their chance for sale.

“They can’t just sit on all of this,” Baer said. “They would like to get it in the hands of customers.”

PHOTO PROVIDED As part of its new online farmers market, Local Roots launched the Farm to F.I.S.H. program, which allows shoppers to donate with the funds going to provide food to F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva.

On the first day, the online market featured approximately 20 vendors, mostly food-related.

“Items will continue to be added to the Website on a daily basis,” she said, explaining that the vendors signed up for their markets are based out of Lee and Collier counties. “That will continue to grow.”

Farmer Mike’s U-Pick from Bonita Springs and 12 Seasons Farms from Alva are offering fresh produce. Also available as of the launch was coffee, seafood, frozen meals, baked goods, pasta, jam, hot sauce, olive oil, vinegar, guacamole, salsa, fish dips, kombucha and even flavored popcorn.

“We’ve got a variety of fresh-pressed juices, shrubs (concentrated syrups),” Baer said.

“We’ve got hand sanitizers,” she added.

Some items coming to the site are pickles, teas, skin care items and soft goods like candles.

Shoppers can build a cart with individual items for a hand-picked order, or simply pick one of the three prepared combo packages. The “Market Essentials” comes with vegetables, fruit, bread, coffee and honey; the “Backyard Barbecue In a Bag,” which serves four people, includes pulled pork, beef brisket, macaroni and cheese, barbecue beans, corn on the cob, bread and barbecue sauce; and the “Fresh Catch In a Bag,” which also serves four, comes with crab cakes, shrimp salad, smoked salmon dip, green beans, lemons and a gourmet spring mix. The featured combo packages range in price from $50 to $90.

In addition, Local Roots found a way to continue giving back to the island community.

“We also launched a program called Farm to F.I.S.H.,” Baer said, explaining that shoppers have an option to donate $10, $20, $50 or $100 to purchase a food box for F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva.

“We will use that donation money to give produce to F.I.S.H.,” she said.

F.I.S.H. has always been an outreach focus for Baer and Ventura. For its markets on the islands, Local Roots partners with some of its food vendors to donate unsold items to the non-profit organization.

“We’ve had a long-standing tradition of us providing fresh produce to them each week,” Baer said, adding that Farm to F.I.S.H. gives those interested a way to support F.I.S.H. during these times.

As for receiving their items, shoppers have two options: delivery or pick up.

Home delivery is available for all of Lee and Collier, with orders of $50 or more eligible for free delivery. Orders placed before noon on Tuesday will be delivered on Wednesday, and orders placed before noon on Friday will be delivered on Saturday. Each order will be assigned a time window.

“They’ll be provided a window of when that delivery will be there,” she said, adding that customers who are not available during their assigned time are encouraged to put out a cooler with ice for food items.

For shoppers interested in the pick-up option, there are three locations: the Sanibel Outlets in Fort Myers, Naples and Cape Coral. For further details on ordering and pick-up times, visit online.

“We wanted to provide an option for people who didn’t want to buy a large quantity of items,” Baer said, adding that it eliminates having to “shop.” “So, they can just pick up that one item or two items.”

All major credit cards and PayPal are accepted.

Baer noted that she and Ventura had been toying with the online market idea for awhile.

“With the state of the economy right now, it kind of pushed us in this direction,” she said. “So this pandemic has pushed us to launch this program sooner than later.”

However, the online option is not intended to replace its physical farmers markets.

“We hope that with the continued support of the community, that this will be a welcome service, but it’s still our hope that the markets will always remain wonderful events for our communities,” Baer said.

The Sanibel Island Farmers Market and the Captiva Island Farmers Market are still continuing each week, but only offering food items. The Sanibel market is held on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall, at 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel. Due to COVID-19, the Captiva market is taking place on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the McCarthy’s Marina, at 11401 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva.

“We look forward to being back with a full array of vendors for the fall,” she said.

The public is invited to hop online and check out the market.

“To continue to shop locally and support your favorite farmers market vendors,” Baer said.

For more information or to shop, visit www.localrootsonlinefarmersmarket.com.