Owner Chris Burt of the Island Garden Center is banking on locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables, available six days a week to bring islanders to his newest feature of the center because, “The island doesn’t have anything like this. There’s a glaring hole in this market. I hear constantly that people are not happy with the Publix or Winn Dixie produce and we can do a better product and more affordably. It’s a natural fit with the garden center.
“Everything that we can buy locally we will. Stuff that we can’t get locally at least will be from Florida. We’ll offer specials every week, depending on what looks good and what’s abundant. We hope to have a small organic section when it’s affordable.”
Chris knows some people may wonder how his fruit and veggie stand can compete with the weekly farmers market in Veterans’ Park.
“Our prices will be competitive. And that other market is only one day a week. The comments I’ve heard from people on the island is that they would like to come to us if they just want produce, rather than fight the crowds there.
“We’re not going to carry the many different products they offer there. We’re just going to be fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. They will still have crowds there because of everything else for sale, baked goods, hats, jewelry and more.”
In other words, it seems Curt is counting on business from islanders who don’t need a dozen eggs, just an eggplant, or perhaps would rather buy fresh ears of corn than earrings. Curt also hopes to sell his produce to local restaurants.
“And we’re going to have a pumpkin patch event on Oct. 14. We’ll have lots of pumpkins, of course, a bouncy house, petting zoo, paint your own pumpkin, refreshments and face painting.”
The fruit and vegetable stand at the Island Garden Center, 1882 San Marco Road, is open daily except Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 394-1123.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.