News

Home

Posted on: August 15, 2021

Check out this Florida Times-Union article on the AB Farmer's Market

From the Florida Times-Union-Shorelines


Sunday farmer’s market

in Atlantic Beach

off to a blazing start

 

FarmersMarket02The new Atlantic Beach Farmer’s Market cut its teeth in the heat of summer – traditionally one of the most sluggish times of the year for open-air markets, particularly in the South.

 

But its mid-July kickoff hasn’t stopped the Sunday marketplace in Jack Russell Park from getting off to, well, a fruitful start.

 

Organizers and vendors say that’s because Russell Park is much more than the recreational, athletic and governmental hub of Atlantic Beach. The tree-canopied refuge just west of City Hall and the city’s iconic five-way intersection is the community’s prime gathering spot, as well.

 

Anchored by a stealth offering of vegetables and other locally and regionally harvested items from Lee’s Produce, the market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., drawing hundreds of shoppers weekly.

 

“The park location is superb for all ages, children to play, and families to sit and have a bite to eat from our food trucks,” said Eden Leaf Natural’s Brenda Hall, a wellness product vendor who has been setting up shop at Beaches farmer’s markets for 12 years. “And the support from the City Hall folks is outstanding.”

 

Indeed, it was Hall and other vendors who encouraged market manager Julie Olsson to approach City officials about the prospect of hosting a Sunday marketplace under the trees at Jack Russell Park. 

 

Olsson manages farmer’s markets in St. Johns County, including the popular Wednesday market at the St. Augustine Pier.

 

The vendors said there was a real desire from the community to have its own market in (Russell) Park,” Olsson said. “From there I reached out to the City managers and we started our dialogue. (City Manager) Shane Corbin, (Deputy City Manager) Kevin Hogencamp, Mayor Ellen Glasser and the city commissioners have been extremely instrumental in helping this happen for the community.”

 

While farmer’s markets are a core of sustainability, particularly because they enable shoppers to buy healthy and environmentally friendly products directly from the source, their benefits aren’t obvious to everyone. Corbin said farmer’ markets provide a wide variety of benefits to a community, including but not limited to building social networks, growing local economies, and reducing environmental impacts.

 

“For example, the goods at farmers markets are produced locally, which means they travel fewer miles before reaching customers. This reduces a community’s carbon footprint and is consistent with the City Commission’s LEED for Cities goals,” he said.

 

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an international program that helps local leaders create responsible, sustainable and specific plans that contribute to quality of life and reduce air and water pollution.

 

Dig Local Network hosted markets for about a decade on Wednesdays at Bull Park in Atlantic Beach and Saturdays at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach before moving the markets Russell Park in April 2020, early during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Atlantic Beach was left without a farmer’s market when Dig Local moved its Wednesday and Saturday markets to Penman Park in Jacksonville Beach in April.

 

Hogencamp noted that farmer’s markets inherently inclusive and place an emphasis on not just food quality and health, but also the sustainable practices used to grow the food and craft homemade products.

In addition to Lee’s bounty of organic produce and Hall’s handmade merchandise, the commodities from the 30-or-so vendors include organic grass-fed beef, free-range non-GMO chicken and eggs, buffalo yogurt, artisan breads and pastries, mushrooms, spices, handmade soaps and lotions, hand poured candles, Acai bowls, hand-tossed pizzas, plant-based meals, kombucha, plants, jewelry, custom leather bags, hand crafted cutting boards, kettle corn and local shrimp.

 

“I have been honored to witness the Atlantic Beach Farmer's Market continue to grow and thrive and look forward to what each week brings,” Hall said.

 

The occasion is complemented each week by the talents of an acoustic musician, and sometimes by a local man known as “AB Bubble Guy” who treats families to a spectacular bubble show. 

 

“It’s like a weekly family reunion,” Hogencamp said. “The sense of community in the park is profound -- even remarkable.”

 

Kimberly Ruessler, co-owner of Lola Farms in Lake Butler, says that even on the hottest days of the year, Russell Park is an idyllic market setting.

 

“The shade trees and picnic tables for folks to hang out around make even the hottest days not so hot,” said Ruessler, who sells her farm’s pasture-raised heritage pork and poultry at the Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach markets.

 

Looking ahead, Olsson said, the Sunday market is planning pet adoptions, community services, and other learning and growing opportunities. Also, a holiday market is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 4.

 

Vendor Punita Patel, operator of Backyard Buffalo, a small-batch dairy in Palm Valley, said that aside from Russell Park being charming, it’s also the most practical market location from a community-development perspective. 

 

“Just like that, a park when mixed with a farmers market gets transformed to being a community hub. I love witnessing this transformation,” she said.

 

The biggest draw for Patel, though, is the love and support she receives.

 

“I am not exaggerating when I say I feel like I am part of the (Atlantic Beach) community,” she said.

 

Icing on the cake, Ruessler says, is that the vendors also are developing a special comradery among themselves.

 

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Home

COAB Tree Giveaway Program

Posted on: December 6, 2021

Artisans' Faire to be held Dec. 2

Posted on: November 24, 2021

Holiday Toy Drive under way

Posted on: November 24, 2021

16th Street beach walkover project update

Posted on: November 13, 2021

King tides in AB during fall 2021

Posted on: September 9, 2021

Wreaths Across America

Posted on: September 10, 2021

King tides in AB during fall 2021

Posted on: September 9, 2021

City of Atlantic Beach COVID-19 Update

Posted on: August 17, 2021

AB Jazz Fest postponed

Posted on: July 29, 2021

COVID-19 testing and vaccinations

Posted on: July 29, 2021

Recreation News

Posted on: July 23, 2021

Saluting AB’s Small Businesses

Posted on: July 23, 2021

Trees in AB: Call before you cut

Posted on: July 19, 2021

FY 2021-22 budget process under way

Posted on: June 27, 2021

Bridgeport barge update

Posted on: July 15, 2021

About palm tree pruning

Posted on: May 27, 2021

Public parking workshop May 27

Posted on: May 11, 2021

It's Military Appreciation Month

Posted on: May 10, 2021

It's Military Appreciation Month

Posted on: May 6, 2021

Stay in the Know, AB

Posted on: March 6, 2021

City of AB Connectivity Plan

Posted on: May 5, 2021

Public Parking Workshop May 6

Posted on: April 29, 2021

City of AB helping 'LEED' the way.

Posted on: April 28, 2021

City Commission Priorities

Posted on: April 27, 2021

USS Stark ceremony to be held May 17

Posted on: April 23, 2021

2020 Water Quality Report

Posted on: March 29, 2021

Tour de Parks set for March 27

Posted on: March 19, 2021

About traffic signals …

Posted on: February 14, 2021

City Hall Closed Presidents’ Day

Posted on: February 12, 2021

COVID-19 Update

Posted on: January 28, 2021

MLK Celebration to be held online

Posted on: January 14, 2021

Latest COVID-19 testing information

Posted on: January 14, 2021

Please don't feed geese and other wildlife

Posted on: December 24, 2020

Put AB Under Your Tree

Posted on: December 2, 2020

Duval County election results

Posted on: November 4, 2020

Howell Park enhancements under way

Posted on: September 30, 2020

Get the SaferWatch app

Posted on: September 22, 2020

18th Street Enhancement Project update

Posted on: August 17, 2020

Isaias Update

Posted on: August 1, 2020

Are you storm-ready?

Posted on: July 30, 2020

Stay safe at the beach

Posted on: July 9, 2020

Promoting Racial Equity

Posted on: June 19, 2020

Juneteenth Freedom Day

Posted on: June 19, 2020

Sign regulations update

Posted on: May 7, 2020

Coronavirus information

Posted on: March 4, 2020

JEA trimming trees in Atlantic Beach

Posted on: January 21, 2020

AB to honor its veterans

Posted on: October 31, 2019

AB honors Scouts for Dorian relief work

Posted on: October 29, 2019

AB to host ‘Government 101’ Nov. 4

Posted on: October 28, 2019

New City Manager Selected

Posted on: September 24, 2019

City Government Week is coming in October

Posted on: September 20, 2019

AB's Gualillo to attend FBI academy

Posted on: September 10, 2019

AB pastor Golden now a police chaplain

Posted on: September 10, 2019

Hurricane Dorian Updates

Posted on: September 4, 2019

Atlantic Beach now LEED-certified

Posted on: July 27, 2019

AB gets new heritage tree

Posted on: August 13, 2019