Bayfront Park Trust Plans Farmers Market
By Eric Kalis
Undeterred by a lack of funding, Bayfront Park Management Trust officials say they are planning to launch a downtown farmers market by the end of February.
Timothy Schmand, executive director of the trust, said at Monday’s meeting that he is in discussions with local charity Health Foundation of South Florida about providing a farmers market at Bayfront Park featuring fresh fruits and vegetables grown by the region’s farmers. The health foundation paid for a survey conducted by Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center in which 93% of 197 respondents said they would attend a farmers market at the park.
"We have 140,000 people working downtown every day, but we never do anything to let them know we care," Mr. Schmand said. "This is a focused attempt to provide a service to the downtown office worker."
The park trust does not have funding to cover the $54,000 needed to launch the market, Mr. Schmand said. Trust officials applied for a grant from the Downtown Development Authority, which denied the application despite expressing interest in the concept, he said.
Downtown Development Authority officials "said "thanks, but it is too early for the market,’" Mr. Schmand said.
If the trust works out a funding arrangement with the health foundation, the plan would be to open the market between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursdays beginning the last week of February, Mr. Schmand said.
"We have to meet with the foundation and talk about our goals," he said. "At this point, everything depends on funding."
Trust officials are to meet with a design firm this week to discuss a vision for the market, Mr. Schmand said. Ideally, the market would "have 10 vendors selling grown produce along the Flagler Promenade," he said. "People could walk up and see displays of fresh fruits and vegetables and talk to the farmers who grew them — and eat healthier."
The trust attempted to launch a French food market in the park in the late 1990s, but the market was shut down shortly thereafter, Mr. Schmand said. The park also used to serve as the venue to several flea markets in the past, he said.
"With any facility you have to create a compelling reason for people to go," Mr. Schmand said. "All urban environments should have a farmer’s market. We need the population to support" a market at the park.