Keeping tradition alive.
Last week the Salt Air Farmer’s Market, held every other weekend at City Commons Park in Port St. Joe, received a $3,000 grant from the Tapper Foundation to help build on a staple community event.
Farmers from around North Florida and Georgia converge on Gulf County to sell fresh produce while area vendors sell homemade crafts, foods and jewelry. The Salt Air Farmer’s Market aims to promote a sustainable food system on Florida’s Forgotten Coast.
According to market organizer John Parker, this is the first grant that the non-profit organization has received in four years.
He said he plans to utilize the funds to purchase a branded tent for the event as well as a sound system to make life easier for participating musicians, who currently must supply their own.
“Music brings in people and provides a more festive atmosphere,” said Parker. “I love to get people down here for public exposure.”
David Warriner of the Tapper Foundation presented Parker with a check during Saturday’s market and thanked him for his part in bringing healthy food choices to the community.
“The Farmer’s Market is a place where people can gather, bring their children and be one with the community,” said Warriner. “The Tapper Foundation board felt that the market was an important venture.
“It’s a cool event all about new healthy lifestyles and that makes a nice synergy.”
When Parker heard about the Tapper Foundation grant, he knew he wanted to apply and Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency director Gail Alsobrook offered to help by writing it.
“It was our pleasure to write the grant on behalf of the Salt Air Market,” said Alsobrook. “It’s grown so organically over the years and that’s the sign of a truly successful venture.”
For the first time since its inception, Parker hosted a bi-weekly winter market January through March.
“The winter market was such a success that it will be a permanent fixture until the sun no longer rises,” said Parker. “People were appreciative and that made it all worthwhile.”
Parker also said that he’d seen an increase in traffic over the past month and attributed the success to spring break visitors, but also advertising within the Gulf County visitor’s guide, printed by the Tourist Development Council.
Parker said that additional grant funds may be used for advertising costs to help spread the word of the market into the surrounding areas.
Vendors are invited to set up shop at the market for just $10, but must supply their own tables. Area musicians and entertainers are invited to perform at the market with new talent welcome and encouraged.
“We create a wholesome family atmosphere,” said Parker. “Parents bring their families and it’s cool because they don’t have to worry about their kids.
“It’s a safe place.”