By Shari Lynn Rothstein Kramer….
There is the Union Square market in New York City. San Francisco has The Embarcadero. Portland is riddled with fresh produce. Even the east coast of Long Island has vineyards (the North Fork) and farms that are ideal for fruit and veggie picking.
So why are there so few places in South Florida where you can go pick fresh produce in a setting that lends itself to “natural”? I am talking about a mega-farm stand where you feel a little bit closer to the earth. Sure you can go down to Homestead and see some strawberry stands and some true “farms” – but Homestead is a trek. There are a few places such as Paradise Farms (which is an incredible experience in all things organic and wonderful), and Josh’s in Hollywood on the Broadwalk, but it is expensive and they offer plastic bags to customers (hmmm…hypocritical?).
When all hope was close to gone, I found it: the Yellow Green Market. Tucked away on Taft just west of 95, resides this 100,000-square-foot rustically modern indoor/outdoor structure. It has been around for a while now and after having had its battles over permitting with the city, it opened to an excited segment of the population.
“Locavores” who care about the environment, who like to purchase local or organic goods, who want to support the “little guy” trying to make a living in a world of bureaucratic…well, you get the drift. I was thrilled to walk in and see some wonderful vegetable stands, fruit stands, freshly made honey, handmade soaps, and although I am not big into this one, crafts – for kids, adults, pre-made, DIY – all kinds of neat things. There is even a booth that sells only corn. Corn on a stick for your eating pleasure.
The hoopla quickly died down, almost taking the market with it. In the winter’s chill this year, consumers did not come out in droves to show their support and in turn, vendors began leaving. They packed up their wares and left for greener pastures, wand what remained were gaping holes in a well thought out “great hope” of a space.
As spring came, so did a new general manager, and supposedly of “good stock” (translation: he came from cities, for example Boulder, Colo., in which green markets reigned) and began to impart his wisdom upon this little Yellow Green market. And I believe it is beginning to work.
I go every weekend, not only to get the most incredible olives and heirloom tomatoes, but also to show my support to the true artisans that do call the place “home”. I also want to see what is new, what is happening, who’s coming, who’s going, what has changed and what has remained the same. And in the past few months, from where I am standing, I am seeing a lot of good stuff. Let’s begin with the incredible farm-stand toward the back right hand side (If you are facing the back of the market). This local family hails from Homestead. They bring gorgeous grape tomatoes in yellow, red and orange, purple garlic and fresh ginger, and fresh bunches of radish. YUM.
Then I head to “my” olive place, where tubs of deliciously brined olives wait to be picked, plucked, removed, and placed in plastic containers before being shoved into my bag to take home and devour. House-made infused olive oils reside inside a separate area, just waiting to be tasted. Shoppers can taste each before on a piece of tasting bread before selecting the oils of choice, which will then be dispensed into pretty shaped jars for purchase.
Kudos to Gary, the Tropi-pop Guy, who creates the most delicate and beautiful all natural ice-pops in flavors such s strawberry Balsamic; ginger blueberry and many more. Everyone has a story to tell – and they always have a minute to tell you. It is like going back to the “country”, when people in the town knew each other, and they all worked together and bought what they needed from each other…sounds idyllic (and too good to be true), well, it might be, but as far as I am concerned, for the hour or so each weekend (the market is only open Saturdays and Sundays from 8AM to 4PM) that I am there, it is reality – and I like it that way!
Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and fashion for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions thoughts.