Wildwood Growers’ Market – Starting a Local Food System

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2009: $7,910.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Susan Kelly
UF/IFAS Sumter Co. Extension

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons, berries (other), berries (blueberries), citrus, grapes, peaches, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: pecans
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), onions, peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals
  • Animals: fish, shellfish


  • Education and Training: extension
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, agritourism
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, community services, sustainability measures, community development

    Proposal abstract:

    Sumter County, Florida is home to an old agricultural community as well as a new, large development for active adults. As large farms and ranches have made way for development, there has been an increase in people interested in small or part time farming.

    The Sumter County Extension office has been development a network of these new farmers, called the Square One Farm Network. Participants have attended a series of classes including vegetable production, business planning, marketing and growing for a farmers' market. Through a comparative analysis of the Sumter county communities, Wildwood was selected as an ideal location for a weekly growers' market.

    The local food system has not been developed yet in Sumter County, beyond a few grocery stores and restaurants. There is no access to local food in the community other than one small roadside farm market. This market will not only provide economic opportunity for local farmers, it will promote a sustainable community through a reduction in environmental impact inthe food distribution and also through connecting various social groups.

    The City of Wildwood and the University of Florida/IFAS Sumter County Extension have formed a partnership to produce a growers' market in Wildwood. Officials weith the city were very interested in producing a community event that brings together the residents of Wildwood, which are comprised of two very different socioeconomic groups. A large retirement community begin built on the boundaries of Wildwood also influences this decision, as more than 90,000 new Florida residents are located within 5 miles of the market.

    In Florida, most farmers' markets do not have rules that require produce vendors to be actual farmers as this one does. Through the development of this market, beginning farmers have an outlet for their produce; local residents from the low income neighborhood to theupscale retirement community will have much needed access to local food and a new understanding of the agricultural industry. Community members will have a place to gather, to entertain and to raise money for charitable organizations.

    The funds requrested in this proposal will provide the mechanism to connect the local growers with teh community through this weekly community event. Low income residents will have access to fresh food through a market EBT machine. Funds will also be used to promote this unique market to the surrounding community. The additional support is needed for the first two years of this developing market, which will be self-sustaining in the third year.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Small farmers and beginning farmers will be identified and given assistance in developing their business through the partnership of UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension in the Wildwood Growers' Market.

    2) Farmers will have an opportunity to sell produce to many customers through the marketing efforts of the Wildwood Growers' Market, greatly enhancing their farm viability.

    3) Food stamp recipients will be able to purchase fresh, locally grown produce using their government-provided SNAP cards at the Wildwood Growers' Market.

    4) Two community charitable organizations each week will be able to profit from food and drink sales at the Wildwood Growers' Market.

    5) Citizens will be able to benefit economically from selling their homemade or homegrown items, creating new small businesses.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.