The competition, conducted by the American Farmland Trust, included more than 7,000 farmers markets
WINTER GARDEN The Winter Garden Farmers Market has been declared not only the best in the state - but also the nation.
Over the summer, the American Farmland Trust celebrated farmers markets by allowing shoppers from across the country to submit their local market for evaluation. Nearly 7,000 farmers markets entered the competition, but the voters ranked Winter Garden’s market as No. 1.
A Nov. 12 celebration was held to mark the achievement.
“It was easy to get the vote,” said Dana Brown with RTP Productions Management who oversees the market each week. “Almost 75% of the people we asked to vote for us said that they would get their husband, wife, brother, sister, parents to vote. The people who come here wanted to give not just one vote, but 10 or 20.”
The competition included several different categories: people’s choice, focus on farmers, healthy food for all, pillar of the community and champion for the environment. The Winter Garden market made a clean sweep of all five categories.
“Receiving this award only validates what we already believed about our farmers market, and we appreciate the American Farmland Trust bringing awareness to local farmers and how essential they are to our way of life,” Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said. “Our farmers market creates an amazing atmosphere of great produce in a small-town social setting. People count on the great farmers market vendors, and those vendors do not disappoint.”
But it’s not the first time that the market has received state and national recognition.
When the American Farmland Trust held this competition three years ago, the Winter Garden Farmers Market came out on top.
“I’ve seen a huge difference in growth,” said American Farmland Trust Vice President of Development and External Relations Susan Sink, who came to the market three years ago to present the market with its awards. “It’s just tremendous. We congratulate the people for being behind this farmers market.”
For many shoppers, making a stop at the market is an every-Saturday event. For others, it’s an every-other-week visit.
“It’s awesome,” said Orlando resident Luiz Prestes, who often finds an excuse to stop by the market. “It’s a (really) good experience, and there’s (really) good energy.”
And vendors love the market just as much as the shoppers do.
“We love it here,” said vendor Tina Woodall, who has worked the market with her husband for two years at their stall, Sweets for You. “We love Winter Garden, period. It’s’ a great little town with great people.”
And the Winter Garden Farmers Market is one-of-a-kind, said Tina’s husband, Kevin.
“We have other markets that we go to,” he said. “But none are like this one.”
The Winter Garden Farmers Market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday in downtown Winter Garden, and features a variety of vendors that offer locally grown produce, baked goods, home goods and handmade trinkets. Plus, there’s live entertainment every week.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].