The nimbus clouds hung low and dark. They loomed over the the local merchants' tents as their tarps flapped violently with each gust of wind. At 5 p.m. the main downpour had passed or, at least, everyone hoped it had. It was the first night of the Tuesday Oakland Park Farmers' Market.
As part of newly launched Oakland Park Culinary District, the Urban Farming Institute and the City of Oakland Park have teamed together to host the farmers' market from 3 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday in the lot on the southwest corner of NE 38th Street and Dixie Highway.
The tablecloths were soaked, the ground was wet, but everyone stayed optimistic. The vendors lined up, rearranged their unique locally sourced foods, and kept a smile as the people of Oakland Park strolled in.
"We just want to create a fun spot for people to go on a Tuesday and raise awareness to the new culinary district and to local food," says Stephen Hill of the Urban Farmer. "The market will definitely be an alternative to a weekend market. Not everybody shops on the weekend, and I hope it will become a fun event for cool evenings out in Oakland Park."
Since October, the Urban Farming Institute has been offering classes -- anything from hydroponic systems to planting a community garden -- at Jaco Pastorius Park. It is run by the same family behind the Urban Farmer, who throw their own market every Friday and Saturday on the covered patio at Jaco Pastorius Park. They have a community-sourced agriculture (CSA) program and sell locally sourced produce for the general public.
After the rain, Camilo from Crafted House dried the jars of artisan jam as he explained the different flavors and offering. "Sure it was raining, but people aren't scared of a little rain," he says. "People have been coming in, and I've actually been doing really well, especially since it was just the first day. Imagine next week [if] it isn't raining."
It was an eclectic assortment from the local food scene. Cookielicious spread out a table packed with sweets (anything from bread rolls to seasonal cookies, pastries, and flourless chocolate cake).
Louise Dutton of Weezie's Kitchen had set up a tent and offered samples of gluten-free bread. Dutton explained that the rain had ruined a few of her loaves with moisture, but she kept high spirits.
For food, there was a basil tartare and multiple types of ceviche at Curich Novo Andino's tent. There was also Herbecue's barbecue, which offered anything from pulled pork to sausages and baked mac 'n' cheese. Since the wind was blowing to the southwest, the wafts of the sizzling meat filled the market and lured hungry shoppers.
There was also plenty of farm-grown produce, a "Farm to Chef" cooking demonstration on a stage, plenty of tables to sit at (if you had something to wipe the raindrops off), and even live music.
The Oakland Park Farmers' Market will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday on the southwest corner of NE 38th Street and Dixie Highway. Call 954-696-9577, or visit opculinaryarts.com.