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Fresh finds

Steady crowd at Seafood and Farmer’s Market

April 3, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The third week of the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Seafood and Farmer's Market featured a steady crowd of individuals eager to purchase produce and shrimp from the vendors, among other items that were offered.

Ginny Skorupski from Art Farm Fresh Produce said they have been doing pretty well at the market.

"They like local Florida products, people are pretty happy to find that," she said of items such as fresh tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and citrus that were for sale Saturday during the market.

Article Photos


Jim McNeilly selects oranges from Art Farm Fresh Produce.

Skorupski said since the strawberry and citrus season is coming to an end, people are purchasing a lot of the fruit. She said they sold out of strawberries at the market this past weekend.

A lot of the shoppers who visited the tent, she said, are repeat customers, some of whom also shop at the store at the center as well.

"People are really supportive," she said. "Everyone is happy and our product is good. We have done really well here."

Skorupski said the market also offers creative individuals the opportunity to sell their products at the market because of the Cottage Food Bill. She said the market is a great place for individuals to develop their own little cottage business.

In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed the Cottage Food Bill, Bill 7209, which allows individuals to manufacture, sell and store some types of "cottage food" products from their home kitchen. The cottage foods include breads, cakes, cookies, candies, jams and jellies and fruit pies.

According to the bill, the annual income that is made through selling these products cannot exceed $15,000. The sale of the product can only be made from the cottage food operator directly to the consumer and not through the Internet, mail order and consignment or through wholesale.

Jack Morton was also at the market selling fresh shrimp for fisherman David Parsons. He said Saturday was the second time he attended the event as a vendor.

On Saturday, he said he sold about 50 pounds of shrimp during the market.

"This market is doing good," he said. "It's new and it will grow."

Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce President Steve Timcak said although they had a late start for the Seafood and Farmer's Market because of permitting issues, they decided to start in March to get their feet wet.

"So when we reopen in November, we know what we are doing," he said.

Timcak said they currently do not have an abundance of vendors for the market, which he said occurred because a lot of the vendors had already signed commitments for Saturday markets during the season.

The market opened March 16, which Timcak said was well received from the public.

"We had good attendance by the public the first week," he said.

The second weekend, Timcak said, they had a slow and meager turnout from the customers. Although they did not attract the crowd they hoped for March 23, he said the vendors that were there were selling out of their product and doing well.

The Seafood & Farmer's Market will run from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m, on Saturdays through April 27.

Timcak said they chose Saturday because Sundays seemed to be more of a family day.

"It's just a nice thing to do on a Saturday morning," he said of the market.

Timcak said the market is a wonderful thing for the island.

"It opens a lot of opportunities to a lot of people," he said.

The Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce currently has a special for its members. Timcak said the chamber is offering the entire membership a free booth during the market.

"It will be a neat community thing once it gets off the ground," he said.

The market is located in Phillip's Park along Park Lane.



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