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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Southwest Florida Farmers Markets and the UF/IFAS Extensions

Southwest Florida (SWFL) arguably consists of many different counties, but I prefer the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council (SWFRPC) definition. What is the SWFRPC? It is a 36 member council of county commissioners, elected officials and gubernatorial appointees. They are an informational resource, and conduct "r and d" into the feasibility of implementing  local, state and federal programs in the SWFL area. There are 11 of these regional planning councils statewide. According to the SWFRPC, SWFL is comprised of 6 counties, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota. As of 2014, the population of each county was (x 1000) 164, 336, 12, 37, 653 and 387, respectively. I throw these numbers out to make a point later.

The University of Florida is a major academic institution in Florida that started about 160 years ago. One of their branches deals in agriculture, and is the University of Florida/Institute of Agricultural and Food Sciences  (UF/IAFS).

UF/IAFS has extensions in all 67 counties in Florida. Some are better that others, but from these there is a wealth of agricultural information, classes and other activities geared toward the food-inclined. I urge readers to visit their local UF/IAFS website to see what it's all about.

I was interested in local farmers markets,

so I searched the various UF/IFAS extension websites to try to get more information on farmers markets in SWFL.

It seems, in general, the more urban an area is, the more farmers markets it will have. I suppose in more rural areas people have more land and will have more of a proclivity to just grow their own.

Here are some very good listings of farmers markets in SWFL provided by UF/IFAS extensions.

Farmers Markets In Sarasota County (this is a bit verbose including other counties, but there is some good information here)

I had contacted the UF/IFAS extension in Charlotte County, and although no link, here was the list given to me by them.


Punta Gorda Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Taylor St., across from Charlotte County Courthouse
Englewood Farmers Market
Thursdays, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Downtown Englewood
300 Dearborn Street, Englewood 34223
Boca Grande Farmers Market
Fridays, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
305 Wheeler Road Ball Field

I had contacted the Hendry Country extension and was told there were no farmers markets there. Paradoxically, 78% of Hendry County's workforce is employed in agriculture. I suppose there are no farmers markets because virtually all of the people employed in agriculture must work for large agribusiness concerns.

I have as of the this writing not heard from the Glades extension but would imagine it would be the same.

I would hope this would be useful information to readers that were interested in farmers markets and fresh produce and didn't have a complete and updated resource for them.

That's that for another post on Forks.

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