Fall isn't just snowbird season in South Florida. It's also green market season, where locals and visitors alike can roam a sea of tents where crafters of artisan goods peddle everything from fresh-picked produce to homemade hot sauce.
One of the best known around these parts is the Delray Beach GreenMarket, which re-opens for its 20th season on Saturday, October 31, at Old School Square Park in the heart of the city's downtown area.
Launched in 1996 by the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Delray Beach GreenMarket has become a popular part of "season" in Palm Beach County. Market-goers can find a wide variety of fresh and local produce, including exotic fruits; grass-fed and finished (and some antibiotic-free) Florida beef, poultry, pork, and lamb; farm fresh eggs; raw milk, butter, and honey; artisan baked goods; gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free products; fresh flowers, plants, and other hand-crafted food specialties.
This year also marks the start of several new additions to the ever-growing GreenMarket. New to the opening day festivities will be a family-friendly trick-or-treat event for kids, as well as a first-time partnership with the Witches of Delray, an annual five-mile charity bike ride benefitting the Achievement Center in Delray. Over 80 "witches" in costume and their decorated brooms (bikes) will end the ride on the lawn at the Delray GreenMarket between 10 and 10:30 a.m., where a panel of judges will decide the winner for best witch costume, best broom (bike), and best witch cackle. This year, the GreenMarket will also host several special events during the course of the season, including a bi-weekly Budding Artists Booth for kid-friendly arts and crafts, and an Easter pet parade March 27.
And just what can you find at this year's GreenMarket? More than 65 vendors will be participating in the 2015-2016 season, including many familiar veterans who have been with the market since its inception, as well as 10 newcomers. New vendors include Mrs. V’s Organic Produce, Oceana Coffee, Herbeque BBQ, Space of Mind School House, Grandma’s Bakery, Florida Organic Aquaculture, The Good Pie Company, Bracai Bowls, Edible Spreadable Café, Orchids
Returning vendors include: Anita’s Guacamole, Antonina’s Gourmet (marinara sauces), Bistro Blends (balsamic vinegars and olive oils), Cottage Garden Teas, Delray Beach Jam Company, Doctor Pickle, Eddie’s Organic Dark Chocolate, Empanada Lady, Farmer Jay Pure Organics, Fratello Sole (cheese), Herbeque BBQ, Independent Seafood, Inika Foods, Jerry’s Here Farm Fresh (produce), Jolene’s Jar, Juice King, Kettle Corn, La Petite Pain, Laurie’s Pantry, Loic Autret Artisan French Bakery, Mozzarita Inc. (cheese)/Capt. Red Beard, Nisha’s Flavors of India, A Touch of Spain, Orchid Doctor, Organic Juice Booth, Pop Nature (gourmet popsicles), Road Runner Chili Company, Sassy Palate, Serenity Flows, Smack Attack Honey, Starz Bakery, Taste of Africa, Tespen’s Organics, Thomas Produce, Delicious Town Biscotti, Tweedle Organic Pet Products, Two Cousins, Volker Farms, Wonder’s of Nature (exotic fruit), and more.
The GreenMarket features live entertainment each week, as well as a bi-weekly kids arts and crafts area. Additionally, Human Powered Delraya — a non-profit group made up of Delray Beach residents who want to make it safer, easier, and more fun to walk and bike in the city — will offer complimentary bike valet parking at the market each weekend, making the Delray Beach GreenMarket the only South Florida farmers' market to provide this eco-friendly transportation service.
"Each year, it seems to get bigger and better," said GreenMarket general manager Lori Nolan. "Our audience keeps growing, with more and more people looking to support our local farmers and vendors. It's really been an incredible 20 years."
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The GreenMarket will be open every Saturday, with only a few closures and relocations throughout the season:
- November 7: GreenMarket relocated to SE/NE 4th Ave. (near the Green Owl restaurant)
- January 30: GreenMarket relocated to SE/NE 4th Ave. (Garlic Festival)
- March 12: Closed for annual St. Patrick's Day parade
- March 19: GreenMarket relocated to SE/NE 4th Ave. (Bacon & Bourbon Festival)
Old School Square Park is located on 51 N. Swinton Ave. in downtown Delray Beach. The Delray Beach GreenMarket will take place every Saturday through May 28. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call 561-276-7511, or follow them on Facebook.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.