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New farmers market comes to Fort Myers Beach

October 5, 2017
By JESSICA SALMOND ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

With now nine locations under their management, you could say farmers markets are Betsey Ventura and Jane Baer's "thing."

The two Sanibel friends started with a market that ran five Sundays in Sanibel, and it snowballed from there to a farmers market management company, Local Roots.

"Betsy suggested doing a farmer's market and it was bigger than we could imagine," Baer said. "This year we have nine in Lee County."

Article Photos

Jane Baer and Betsy Ventura are celebrating 10 years of their farmers market management company, Local Roots.


Now, Ventura and Baer are opening up shop in Fort Myers Beach.

Their application to the town was approved Sept. 21; now, they've got the permission they need to run their farmers market.

The Fort Myers Beach Farm & Art Market will be held Tuesdays from 8 noon beginning Nov. 7, and running through April. Vendors will be set up in the parking lot next to Nervous Nellie's.

Many of the vendors who will be selling at this market are inherited; Ventura was friends with Bonnie Roberts, who ran the farmers market held in Santini Plaza. Roberts died this past summer, but beforehand arranged for the Local Roots team to take it over for her.

Ventura and Baer are moving the market from Santini because the new Fish-Tale restaurant opening there needs the parking, they said.

So far, Ventura says there will be about 30 vendors, many from the old market and some new additions. It will be a farm and art market, so besides breads, cheeses, vegetables and other homemade products, artists will be there to sell their wares as well. Several food trucks will sell ready-to-eat foods. It's dog-friendly, too.

The women want the market to be accessible to the community, they said. It's welcome for residents, businesses and visitors alike. Ventura said there's research data that shows farmers markets can boost the local economy as customers are more likely to go to the market and then stop at other shops in the area.

Unlike buying goods at a big-box store, customers get that face-to-face interaction with the vendor, Baer said. It's not only an opportunity to know where the product you are buying comes from, but also a time to gather priceless information or ideas.

She gave an example: she once bought radishes at a produce stand, and the owner suggested she try stir-frying them. She gave the recipe a shot, having never cooked a radish before, and now she loves it, she said.

"It's great to engage with the person you're buying from," Baer said.

Both women said they enjoyed running markets because of the positive atmosphere created and the community it brings together.

"You run into your neighbors there," Ventura said. "There's something for everyone, and it feels good to be there."

Since the parking near Fort Myers Beach market is all paid meter parking, Ventura and Baer encourage customers to bike, walk or take the trolley to the market if they would prefer not to pay to park.

Local Roots manages farmers markets in Sanibel, Captiva, the Downtown River District of Fort Myers, the Promenade of Bonita Springs, Coconut Point, Boca Grande and Lakes Park. The Lakes Park market, which is large and very popular in season is set to begin again Oct. 11 after a delay from Hurricane Irma. Ventura and Baer are celebrating Local Roots' 10th anniversary this year.

For updates, more information or to become a vendor, visit or follow the market on Facebook, "Fort Myers Beach Farm & Art Market."



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