How can you keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Marco Island? Well, that wasn’t a hard choice for Jerry Garrett who retired from laboring in the family’s farm and orchard business in Michigan and switched to selling veggies instead with his wife Joan at their Blake’s Produce booth at the Marco Island Farmers Market.
Actually, you could say the Garretts are Marco Island Farmers Market charter vendors because they were among the first vendors in the farmers market held in the parking lot at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. When it folded due to insurmountable problems the City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation department decided to revive the market due to popular demand by both vendors and residents and the Garretts followed when it opened up again at Mackle Park and subsequently moved along with it to Veterans Park in 2008, explained Jerry Garrett.
“I buy a lot and I sell a lot. I deal directly with the growers, the people who grow and harvest tomatoes, wax and green beans on thousands of acres in Immokalee. I’d like to tell people that all our produce is local, the red potatoes are dug in Immokalee, and the green bell peppers, cukes and zucchini harvested here also,” he declared, waving his hand at the mounds of colorful produce displayed on the counters adjacent to the long table crowded with pots and baskets spilling over with lush and verdant herbs.
“I buy them in 4-inch pots and upgrade them in different sized containers made of terra cotta pottery and also group several kinds, mostly basil, mint, curly parsley, oregano and sage, into mini kitchen gardens. We also do special requests like if a woman wants a pot of catnip I can get it for her. In addition, I can create custom herb collections in baskets or terra cotta pots or whatever people want,” said Garrett, noting that the Garrett’s Blake’s Produce stand also rent booth space at St. Paul’s Church Farmers Market in Naples.
“You know, I sell a good product and that’s because I keep a lot of produce on ice, and I think that the Marco Island Farmers Market – on a scale of one to 10 – is a 10. It’s almost sad April 13 is our last week,” said Garrett.
“May 1 we will be back in Michigan operating a u-pick strawberries operation, and selling the spring’s first crop of Michigan asparagus and produce at farmers markets across that state,” added Garrett.
This veggie-loving couple really does enjoy the best of both worlds.