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Too late for farmers market but still time for fresh produce

By Staff | May 2, 2020

When the Town of Fort Myers Beach Council acted last week to allow its farmers markets to re-open, it turns out it was too late.

Linda Miller, who organizes the Santini Farmers Market and Beach Baptist Farmers Market, said the market’s season typically runs from October through April.

There is one vendor though, that Miller said will be be able to deliver fresh produce to beach residents who order online. Eldridge’s Produce (eldridgesproduce.store) will be making weekly dropoffs of fruit, vegetables and herbs in town every Wednesday. Each item will cost $3.50

The packages will be delivered to the customer’s home, according to information provided by Miller.

The orders can be made online at EldridgesProduce.store or by calling 239.289.6738. According to Miller, there will need to be a minimum of 25 orders in town to sustain the deliveries from Immokalee farms.

Order will need to be made by Monday at 6 p.m. for Wednesday deliveries. Miller said that Eldridge picks up the produce one to two days before deliverty to ensure freshness.

“The produce is super, super fresh,” Miller said. “We’re just doing this as a community service.”

The farmers markets have been shut down since last month, when the town acted to cut off all special permits to businesses in town following its cancellation of a special permit for the shrimp festival amid the coronavius pandemic.

Miller said that the delivery option is a welcome alternative to going to more crowded grocery stores. She has argued that the farmers markets are a healthy alternative to chain stores, with fresh produce picked within a few days of the markets, and had previously argued that the markets should not have been penalized while Publix remained open.

Food operators are considered an essential business under the statewide limited movement order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Meanwhile, Miller said she is seeking to receive reimbursement for special permit fees she paid for up front for the farmers markets dates between March and April. She also said the farmers markets were not compensated for its losses though the shrimp festival was reimbursed for the shrimp that was purchased.