Visitors, residents and vendors alike were thrilled over the return of the Farmers’ Market on Marco Island, Wednesday, November 18 at Veterans Park.
“Everybody is just excited to be back,” said Samantha Malloy, the city’s Manager of Parks, Recreation, and Culture. “We had to shut it down a little early last season. The vendors have been great and willing to do what’s needed to be done so we can open up safely. So, I think it’s going really well.
“We have our sheet of rules and regulations and I’ve been carrying those around and talking to everyone about it. We want everybody to have hand sanitizer at their booths. We want everybody six feet apart. And, of course, we want all our vendors to wear masks. I’d say 98% of them have been fine. We had to remind a few of them about masks and they put them on right away. So we’re good.”
Vendors appeared in high spirits and seemed to enjoy the back-and-forth with customers—many of whom they have dealt with for years.
“We just have to talk to the patrons about the food to go,” Malloy said. “Some of them are looking for the food tent. We just have to remind them that the food is to go. We encourage them to wear masks. I would say at least 85% of the patrons are wearing masks. We are asking the patrons to let the vendors do the touching and bagging of produce for them.”
The number of vendor booths is down this year.
“Usually we have 100 booths,” Malloy said. “This season we have 71. We don’t accept any new vendors. We aren’t doing non-profit booths in order to have more space for the vendors. We had a vendor just today notify us that they’re not going to be here this season. But so far that’s the only one.”
Johnny Fusco is starting his third season as owner of the popular Mary Crab Cake business.
“It’s a Maryland crab cake,” Fusco said. “Our picking house is in Maryland. When they catch the crabs, they pick and pasteurize them so we can have Maryland crab in the winter. They pick the crab, they store them. We call them up and say, ‘We need 800 pounds, we need 1,000 pounds.’ They ship it to Miami and I go to Miami and pick it up. The recipe is a Tillman Island recipe; it’s from 1954. It was the former owner Gaylord’s mother’s grandmother’s recipe. We didn’t change a thing. We also have a wider variety since we’ve taken over. We have our crab and seafood bisque. There’s a lot of crab in the bisque. We have one-ounce crab balls for appetizers. We have stuffed crab mushrooms; we have crab dip. We have quite a few different varieties of items. Here at the market people come for the crab cakes. We also have a gluten-free line.”
Taryn Snell, a Colorado resident, is a frequent visitor to the Farmers’ Market. She was picking up a large bag of grapefruit. “I love coming here,” Snell said with a smile. “I’ve been coming to Marco for years.”
Pedro Correch runs Pilar’s Empanadas Argentinas. He’s in his second season as a vendor of authentic empanadas at the Marco Farmers’ Market. “Business is very good,” Correch said. “My wife, Pilar, makes everything herself. We work 12 other markets a week.”
Kim Enochs, of Chicago, visited the market on her bicycle. “I like getting around the island by bicycle,” Enochs said. “That way I don’t have to use the car and I get good exercise.”
The Farmers’ Market is held each Wednesday from 7:30 AM to 1 PM.