JACKSONVILLE - Eating fresh is all the rage these days. The fresher the better especially when it comes to your fruits and vegetables. One Jacksonville business has served its customers doing just that for three quarters of a century. The Jacksonville Farmer's Market is the oldest of its kind in the state.
They come from miles around to buy fresh produce. "Fresh veggies, good for the family and it's local," said one farmer's market customer. The Jacksonville Farmer's Market opens at dawn and closes at dusk 365 days a year.
For 75 years farm fresh produce has been trucked in to the market off Beaver Street. Dozens of vendors set up shop selling in-season fruits and vegetables to the general public. "We see a lot of first time folks who come out here and it just blows their mind at all the fresh produce we have here," said Farmer's Market General manager Greg Tison.
There's also a wholesale side that sells to whoever wants larger orders. Tomatoes are big sellers right now "We have a 28 to 30 pound box for 12-dollars right now," said Elia Martinez. Her family operates a produce stand on the wholesale side.
About 30 years ago Beaver Street Fisheries bought the market. In 2006 the market was moved one block west so trucks could have better access to the Fisheries plant across the street. 89-year old owner Harry Frisch says the market is a labor of love. "You got to give something back and at this point. The Farmers Market is not a profit making organization for us but Jacksonville has got to have a Farmer's Market," said Frisch.
Future plans are to expand the market into a one-stop shopping experience. "We're looking at a fresh meats shop, maybe a cheese shop, we'd like to get a floral specialist out here, a del, those types of things," said Tison. Tison said studies have shown that folks who shop at the Farmer's Markets can save anywhere from 50 to 80 percent off their produce bill.
For three quarter of a decade the Jacksonville Farmers Market has been a Landmark Legend with no signs of slowing down. "We've been around for 75 years and we hope we're hear for another 75-years," said Tison.
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