Farmer’s market more than just food

Farmer's market
The Farmer's market in Anna Maria. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

Like seasonal fruits and vegetables, the city of Anna Maria’s new farmer’s market is a fleeting pleasure with an expiration date: Tuesday, May 8.

The market’s trial run was an experiment conducted by Mayor Dan Murphy and Deputy Clerk Debbie Haynes, with the City Commission’s blessing. The goal was to attract more people to the Pine Avenue business district while the Anna Maria City Pier remains closed. Judging by the first two markets, that’s mission accomplished.

Approaching stormy weather did not dampen the initial excitement felt when the market debuted on March 20, when four vendors (two of them sharing space) set up around the shade sail at City Pier Park.

The shoppers were eager and the foot traffic was heavy, and the following week produced more vendors and more people.

When expressing support for the market’s inception, Commissioner Doug Copeland lamented the lack of fresh produce on the north end of the Island. With two produce vendors on hand last week, the market provided that, but it also provided something else – a public gathering that helps foster a sense of community.

The market provides a place where locals can reconnect with one another in a new and natural setting. They can also interact with the friendly visitors who are often ostracized simply for being part of a demographic known as vacation rental guests.

The market is an example of the mayor and city commissioners trying to support the business community, full-time residents and visitors all at the same time in a small but significant manner. Does a farmer’s market cure the city’s woes? No, it does not, but getting people to gather regularly in a city park is an effort to be saluted – and hopefully repeated on the other side of summer.

Some vendors at the Anna Maria market are familiar faces at the long-running Beach Market at Coquina Beach on the south end of the Island. Chaperoned by Nancy Ambrose, the Beach Market also offers baked goods, clothing, jewelry, antiques, arts and crafts, live music, good vibes and a lovely stroll down a shaded beach trail. The Beach Market happens each Wednesday through May 9 and most Sundays through the end of July.

The stock market may be a roller coaster ride, but a trip to a local market is always a sound investment.