Farmers Market Marco Island

Chef Paul Schmidgall of Paul’s Paella keeps an eye on an early batch he made on the Farmers Market opening day, Nov. 6. / Quentin Roux/

Source of writing is Marco Island Sun Times Written byQuentin Roux

A  sold-out Farmers Market got underway around sunrise Wednesday in balmy weather.

The place was fairly packed by 8:45 a.m., with the tantalizing odor of cooking food already wafting all over Veterans Community Park.

New vendors Rene Balderas and Antonio Jordan of Antonio’s Pizza caught immediate attention with their propane and wood-fired brick oven. They’re offering 8-inch pizzas cooked fresh, using ingredients such as pepperoni and red pepper, white pizzas with garlic, and margarita pizzas done in the 826-degree oven in just a few minutes.

About 109 vendors have taken all the spaces for the season, which lasts until the end of April 2014, said Samantha Malloy, of the city parks and recreation department. They pay $821.50 per stand-up front, or $212 a month.

Most of the vendors are from Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples, while a handful hail from Marco, and at least one makes the drive over from Miami.

The mix is familiar and varied, ranging from plenty of fresh produce stands, to food cooked on site for people who like to feed on the wing, to jerky and dog food stalls, and to soap and wood carving stands.

Malloy said most of the hot food vendors had been concentrated towards the east side of the venue, creating a kind of food court.

Friends Nikki France and Tabitha Anderson were on hand bright and early, making the most of fresh produce on sale at Twins Produce.

“We’ve been counting down the days,” France said. “We come to this stand every Wednesday before work because it has amazing produce and good prices.”

At the Inyoni Organic Vegetable Farm stall, straw-hatted Shaina Muth touted locally-grown produce such as avocados, cucumbers, Japanese salad turnips, red radishes, baby zucchini, okra, Asian spinach, arugula, parsley, rosemary, curly leaf basil, baby bok choy, and three different varieties of kale and Swiss chard.

The vegetables are grown in the Naples-Marco area.