Jacksonville Farmers Market celebrates 75 years

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Farmers Market is turning 75, and it's celebrating with a three-day festival this weekend.

The parking lot at the Farmers Market off Beaver Street was full of cars Friday, but it didn't always look that way.

It's the oldest and most visited farmers market in Florida, with more than 25,000 visitors a year.

The market's general manager, Greg Tison, said he's been coming to the market for 45 years.

"There's a lot of history with this Farmers Market," Tison said. "I can remember when I was a child coming here with my grandparents. It was butted up to the railroad tracks. Back in those days most of the produce came in on the railroad."

The market is open every day of the year, dawn to dusk. Shoppers can find seafood, local produce and more at affordable prices.

"Families can come out here in these economic times and save up to 70-80 percent on their produce bills," Tison said.

Families like the Hamiltons have been doing that since the '80s.

"You can always get a good price -- good price and fresh produce," one of the family members said. "It's a nice little outing, and we always support the local farmers."

Not just great deals, but fresh and organic produce, which drives a lot of customers to the market instead of other outlets.

"Usually you can get fresh produce, which has only been out of the field a few days," Tison said. "If you go into a local retailer, where it sits for maybe a week or so in cold storage -- the sense of freshness is out here."

The Farmers Market only uses about half of its property, and because the business is doing well, organizers say they plan to make the market even bigger.

"We're looking to expand in the future and pretty much double the size double our parking," Tison said.

To celebrate 75 years in business this weekend there will be a festival with musical guests, a kids zone, prize giveaways, and tons of food from local vendors and food trucks.

The festival runs all weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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