Wildwood Growers’ Market – Starting a Local Food System

Project Overview

CS09-072
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

Commodities

  • 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

Practices

  • 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

    Abstract:

    The Wildwood Growers’ Market was developed as a result of a partnership between the City of Wildwood and UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension. The market provided an opportunity for small farmers and artisans to sell directly to the public on a weekly basis for the past three years. The funds from the grant were used in promoting the market, and providing the market management with supplies, equipment and travel to visit other markets.

    Introduction

    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 developing 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 in the 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 with 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 being 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 the upscale retirement community will have much needed access to local food and a new understanding of the agricultural industry. Community members have a place to gather, to entertain, and to raise money for charitable organizations.

    Project objectives:

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