One of the most popular weekly events in The Villages has to be the Farmer’s Market hosted at Brownwood Paddock Square every Saturday from 9am-2pm.
And now the popularity of this weekly market has spawned a seasonal farmer’s market in Spanish Springs that is open each Thursday from 9am-2pm during the months of October through April.
This is great for Villagers who live at the other end of The Villages or for whatever reason can’t make it down to Brownwood on Saturdays.
At each market you can find dozens of local vendors selling everything from freshly baked breads, to locally grown organic produce, to hand-made goat’s milk soap, and you’ll find most of the same vendors at the different markets.
The farmer’s markets run from 9 AM to 2 PM but some early-bird Villagers have noted that many of the vendors are ready and willing to serve as early as 8 AM. If you aren’t able to get to the market early, many of the vendors have been known to discount whatever items they have left after 1 PM, however much of the good produce is usually gone by then, and a lot of the vendors are already packing up for the day.
These farmer’s markets can be a fantastic experience for anyone looking to expand their culinary skills. If you’ve recently taken a cooking class at the Lifelong Learning College, odds are you can put those new skills to work on some of the fantastic ingredients available every Saturday.
Meet Some of the Vendors
One of the most recommended produce vendors is Lee Farms from Webster, Florida. They are a local family farm that specializes in low cost, high quality fresh vegetables. Depending on the time of year, they may have yellow squash, zucchini, corn, green beans, peas, beets, onions, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, Swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, okra, pickles, red potatoes, or sweet potatoes.
Another family owned produce stand is run by Akins Farm Fresh Produce, which started farming in the area in the 1890’s.
For fresh bread you have to check out A Wish or Two Ago International Bakery and Marketplace. Owners Phillip and Kathleen Farrugia are known throughout Florida for their breads and pastries. On any given Saturday morning, they will be the ones responsible for the fresh baked bread smells that overtake Paddock Square. They generally offer an assortment of breads, baguettes, pastries, and biscotti that taste as fresh as they smell.
If you need some coffee to go with your pastry or biscotti, check out Bean Together, which produces artisan roasted coffee that is locally roasted and certified organic.
Another excellent booth is Strega Nonna’s Market, where owner Mike Cosmo will answer any question you have ever had about garlic. They offer a number of varieties of organic garlic and are happy to give advice on everything from storing garlic to cooking with garlic.
Pasture Prime Family Farm is located in Summerville, and they bring all natural 100% grass-fed meat from Wagyu cattle, free-range chickens, free-range turkeys, Berkshire pigs and Mangalitsa pigs to the market.
Need some sauce for your meat? Penny’s Hawg Wash BBQ Sauce comes in a variety of flavors.
While not a food vendor, Luzette Kincaid’s Buffalo Girl Goat’s Milk Soap is definitely one of the most popular products at the market. They make soap from goat’s milk that has no artificial preservatives, additives, or colorants. Using their soaps make bathing a delight instead of a daily chore.
If you are a fan of honey, you will definitely want to check out the Riverview Apiaries booth. Their local, raw honeys are incredibly popular. Scott, who is the beekeeper, is happy to answer any questions as well as provide samples.
With many additional vendors, it can be easy to lose track of time shopping at the Brownwood and Spanish Springs Farmer’s Markets. There is so much to see, and so much to try that you may find yourself avoiding the grocery store altogether in favor of these locally made products!
Do yourself a favor and spend a Thursday or Saturday morning checking them out!
Images courtesy of reader Darryl Kenyon