Sanibel farmers market back for 13th season with changes
With new safety guidelines in place, the Sanibel Island Farmers Market will return on Oct. 4.
Marking its 13th season, the market will take place on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sanibel City Hall from October through May. Organized by Local Roots, which is co-owned by island residents Jean Baer and Betsy Ventura, the weekly market will feature a mix of vendors and products, plus crafters.
“We’re just excited that we’re able to open up again,” Ventura said.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Local Roots has implemented several new protocols in order to keep the community and shoppers safe. Also, vendors will be following CDC guidelines.
Everyone will be required to wear a mask. She explained that while the city does not mandate them outdoors like at the beach or park, people may not be able to social distance as well at the market.
“All vendors, of course, will be wearing masks,” Ventura said.
Every vendor will have hand sanitizer, and it will be available upon entering and exiting the site.
While the market has served as a sort of gathering place for the community in the past, where people can catch up with friends and neighbors, a “grab and go” format will be in place this season to prevent lingering and large gatherings — per the CDC guidelines. For questions about products, ask vendors first.
“Only touch if you’re buying,” she said.
To help promote the new “grab and go” format, shoppers are encouraged to draw up a grocery list in advance so they can get in and out quickly. They also can contact vendors in advance to place an order.
“To have less people standing in line,” Ventura said.
New signs throughout the market will remind visitors to social distance, wash their hands and such.
Uncertain of what kind of turnout to expect and to free up more space to allow for social distancing, Local Roots has reduced the number of vendors this season to under 50 and will adjust as needed.
“We’re asking everybody to be patient and kind — there’s going to be longer waits. Respect people’s space,” she said. “It’s new to everyone, and we’re all going to try and do the best we can do.”
As far as what the market features, shoppers will be able to stock up on fresh produce, exotic fruits, breads and pastries, guacamole, seafood, smoothies, barbecue and more, plus plants and flowers.
New additions this season are: Swell Snacks, with dried fruits; Chef Mazotta, with frozen prepared meals and crab cakes; Daily Delice, with French specialities; Uhmaze, with fresh-pressed juices; Twila Mae Chicken Salad, with different types of chicken salad; Traveling Salad Bar, with build-your-own healthy salads; Sinless Sweets, with vegan gluten-free sweets; Dream Earth Bowls, with acai smoothie bowls; and Fresh Catch, with seafood, pot pies, stuffed chicken breasts, beef and pork.
A few returning favorites are Island Seafood, Andres French Bakery, Pete’s Fresh Mozzarella, Venus Veggies Organic Farm, Dynasty Guacamole, Cherie’s Sweet Treats, and Ernesto and Luigi Sauces.
There will also be five craft vendors each week — four permanent ones and one rotating artisan.
In addition, a different local nonprofit will be provided a vendor space every week.
“We just feel like it’s something we can give back to the community,” Ventura said, citing The Sanibel School PTA and island Boy Scouts as two. “It’s a great way for them to get their message across.”
Once again, Local Roots is partnering with F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva to help fill its food pantry shelves. She explained that they are initiating a Farm to F.I.S.H. program — similar to what it offered through its online market — where people can bring food donations or donate funds to buy items.
The market does not allow dogs; only service animals are permitted.
In an effort to eliminate single-use items, it is free of plastic straws and plastic bags.
Parking is located in the lots at city hall, Sanibel Public Library, BIG ARTS and Schoolhouse Theater. Bicycles can be parked at the designated area at city hall, which also houses the handicap parking.
Shoppers are encouraged to swing by — and grab their items to go.
“It’s still a wonderful way to buy fresh food, and you’re supporting these small businesses,” she said. “More than ever we need to help small businesses and support small businesses.”
For more information, visit online at http://buylocallee.com.
The Sanibel City Hall is at 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel.