The cream of the crop is the West Palm Beach GreenMarket, which is lively and food-oriented. You could do your weekly shopping here if your diet consisted mainly of jam, honey, nuts, and candied fruit. For folks adhering to a more realistic food regimen, stands offer crusty loaves of bread and skinny baguettes, fresh vegetables, cheeses courtesy of the goats of Loxahatchee, and pickles from the Olde Pickle Barrel shipped in from New York. You can have a hot breakfast prepared by Tomasso's Deli or choose New York bagels with café cubano or pai-mu-tan (white peony), a rare tea harvested at dawn only two days a year. On your way out, stop at the Bow-Wow Bakery and pick up a homemade treat for your pooch.
Down the road in Boca Raton, a collection of colorful pottery -- including vividly painted Mexican planters and pots in quirky animal shapes -- is a highlight of the city's green market. Here you might also find three produce purveyors (although only one was in evidence the day New Times visited), including Triple C Groves, which dispenses fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. Elsewhere vendors offer choice plants, in particular a vast variety of bougainvillea, orchids, and bonsai, as well as arts and crafts. If you're sensitive to the sun be sure to wear sunscreen; the market area offers scant shade.
One exit farther north off I-95, the Delray Beach market isn't quite up to speed. It opened just two weeks ago, and a blackboard lists products yet to come, including more plants, flowers, and Asian veggies. Befitting its community, the market here is more down-home. At one end Wilson's Bar-B-Que cooks up authentic barbecued chicken, pork, and conch fritters. Adding to the homey feel are prepared foods, which appear to come from someone's home kitchen: A vendor happily told a woman peering into an empty casserole dish, "I was sold out at 9:30."
The tenuously titled Fort Lauderdale farmers' market is sorely lacking in products straight from the farm, but the event is held in a lively, urban, "happening" kind of place: the central courtyard of Las Olas Riverfront. Some crafts are offered for sale here -- including brightly colored, tepee-style tents for kids and handmade palm-frond hats -- but it's hard to tell the Sunday market vendors from the always-there crafts and trinkets carts. There's no prepared food to speak of, either, since the myriad restaurants surrounding the courtyard might object. But the live Latin music is catchy, folks are dancing, and the market overlooks the boat-filled New River. A wider selection of produce would be a nice addition to the single table of salad vegetables at this so-called farmers' market, but with such a serene setting, who's going to complain?