What’s fresh in Alachua County
Cold-weather crops abound in Gainesville area; here’s where you can find them
While fields lay fallow in most other parts of the country, winter months bring an abundant variety of produce to Florida fields.
Occasional freezes typically wipe out summer crops such as squash and tomatoes, but winter vegetables like lettuce, greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage flourish in the colder weather.
Although some springtime crops are being planted this month, time is ticking for locals hoping to find certain fresh, cold-weather crops nearing the end of their seasons at Alachua County farmer’s markets and stands.
The beginning of February is a transitional period for farmers in the Gainesville area, said Dr. Taylor Clem, environmental and community horticulture agent for Alachua County’s UF/IFAS Extension office. It’s a time when cold-loving greens, lettuces and broccoli are starting to wane, and vegetables grown in warmer months, such as eggplant, potatoes and cucumbers, are being planted.
While watermelon is undoubtedly the most commonly grown crop in Alachua County, Clem said, the summertime melon won’t be popping up at farmer’s markets until a few months from now.
Instead, “a lot of greens” are in right now, he said.
“A lot of our backyard gardeners are growing our cool season vegetables, like kale, collards, carrots, and you might be able to start finding Brussels sprouts, radishes, cucumbers and eggplant soon” Clem said.
Those who enjoy tangy fruits should also hurry out to markets in February. Citrus season has already reached its peak, and fewer oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and such will be available.
On the sweeter side, “blueberries grow through winter, and strawberries are coming to a close,” Clem said.
Alachua County is home to many small, family-owned farms. The North Florida climate is well suited for growing blueberries, strawberries, watermelons, tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet corn, green beans, and peanuts, according to the Extension office.
To see a full list of what’s currently in season, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture’s seasonality guide at bit.ly/3aDLZSU.
Here’s where you can find Alachua County’s fresh, seasonal produce:
Alachua County Farmers’ Market
WHAT: You won’t find any second-hand produce at the Alachua County Farmers’ Market, also known as the 411 market for its location off U.S. Highway 441. Vendors are required to only sell produce, dairy, plants or other products that come from their own farms, according to the market’s website. Numerous vendors offer produce fresh from their farms year-round.
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays
WHERE: NW 13th St., Gainesville
INFO: Call 352-371-8236 or visit bit.ly/3oPouLJ
Downtown Alachua Farmers Market
WHAT: Tradition runs strong at the Alachua Farmers Market, where farmers still gather downtown to sell produce and handmade goods just like they did generations ago. The market offers a “large fresh selection of farm fresh foods,” according to the website.
WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays
WHERE: Skinner Field Park, 15100 NW 142 Terrace, Alachua
INFO: Call or visit bit.ly/3cS9I4q
Grove Street Farmers Market
WHAT: Can’t make it out to Saturday markets? The Grove Street Farmers Market is open on Mondays, filling the downtown’s Grove Street with local farmers and artisans. Vendors offer locally grown micro-greens, organic produce, honey, meats and other fresh foods.
WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays
WHERE: 1001 NW 4th St., Gainesville
INFO: Email email@example.com or visit grovestreetfarmersmarket.com
Haile Farmer’s Market
WHAT: Growers from in and around Alachua County come to the Haile Farmer’s Market to sell theirfresh produce. Established by farmers for farmers and artisans, no brokers are allowed to sell at this market, according to the market’s website. Lesser-known winter crops rarely found outside of farmer’s markets can be found here, including bitter melon, datil peppers, roselle, gourmet mushrooms, red okra and shoots/sprouts.
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays
WHERE: 5213 Southwest 91 Terrace, Gainesville
INFO: Call 352-639-0446 or visit hailefarmersmarket.com
High Springs Farmers Market
WHAT: The City of High Springs recently started its own farmer’s market in the Farmers Market Pavilion, which just opened in October 2020. Local farmers sell vegetables including okra, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, onions, green beans, herbs and more, alongside other vendors who all make their own foods and products.
WHEN: 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays
WHERE: Farmers Market Pavilion, 23517 NW 185th Road, High Springs
INFO: Visit highsprings.us/farmersmarket
Newberry Farmers Market
WHAT: Just reopened Jan. 9, the Newberry Farmers Market once again brings local produce to downtown Newberry in West Alachua. Area growers bring an assortment of greens and other vegetables, while farmers and artisans offer fresh meats, local honey, homemade bread and other goods.
WHEN: 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays
WHERE: 25370 W. Newberry Road, Newberry
INFO: Call 352-472-2112 or visit facebook.com/NewberryFarmersMarket
WHAT: Fresh produce is sold straight from the fields at Rogers Farm stand. Perhaps the main attractionis the U-Pick fields, where customers can harvest their own strawberries. U-Pick is only available when there aren’t freeze risks.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, although hours differ for seasonal events
WHERE: 3831 NW 156th Ave., Gainesville
INFO: Call 386-462-2406 or visit rogersfarmfl.com
WHAT: Brown’s family farm offers seasonal produce at their stand, including strawberries, field peas,romanesco (a variety of cauliflower), greens, carrots, green beans, beets, spinach and onions. The Brown family has provided fresh produce to the community since 1916.
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
WHERE: 18120 NE State Road 26, Orange Heights
INFO: Call 352-475-2015 or visit brownsfarmstand.com
WHAT: Rainbow Produce Wholesale Fruits & Vegetables works with area farmers to provide fresh produce to restaurants, retailers and individuals in the community. While customers can come to the downtown Gainesville location to shop, Rainbow Produce also delivers. According to the website, produce for sale includes romaine and iceberg lettuce, potatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, strawberries, squash, onions, collard greens, green beans and more.
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; deliveries daily except Wednesday and Sunday
WHERE: 2420 NE 19th Dr., Gainesville
INFO: Call 352-377-7644 or visit rainbowproducegainesville.com
RECENTLY CLOSED FARMER’S MARKETS
Tioga Community Farmers Market
WHAT: The Tioga market temporarily closed with plans to reopen. Some farmers who previously sold at the market are still taking orders.
WHEN: Reopening October 2021
WHERE: 205 SW 131st St., Gainesville
INFO: Visit facebook.com/TiogaCommunityFarmersMarket orsites.google.com/site/tiogacommunityfarmersmarket
Union Street Farmers Market
WHAT: The Union Street Farmers Market opened its final market Jan. 21. The market is permanently closed after nearly 25 years.
WHERE: 4949 Celebration Pointe Ave., Gainesville
This may not be a comprehensive list. If there’s a local market, stand or grocer we missed, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article written by Jewell Tomazin