Market touts fresh produce

EAST MANATEE — The benefits of eating fresh produce are often touted as a cornerstone of good health.

Now, Health Park East, 6040 53rd Ave. E., is taking it one step further by opening the area’s newest farmers market, featuring locally grown produce.

Community Farmers Market will be open 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting today and running through April.

The new market will be set up along the south side of State Road 70, just east of Caruso Road, in front of clinics, doctor’s offices, Manatee Memorial’s Rehab and Sports Medicine Center and more.

“Know your farmer, know your food” is one of the mantras of the new market.

Shelby King, of King Farm, has been working with other local farmers to bring fresh produce to the new market. King Farm grows heirloom tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, jalapenos, bell peppers and peaches.

It will be a short ride to market for the King produce, grown on the family farm nearby off Caruso Road.

“It’s a great concept,” said King of raising awareness of local produce and making it readily available.

Virginia Baden Kittsley, president 0f Health Park East, who has been working to open the new market, said the focus will be on local farmers and the “beautiful things” they are growing.

The new market will help promote a healthy lifestyles built around nutrition and fitness offered at one location, Kittsley said.

“With the tough times, we are offering a lot of frugal choices, that will take families back into the kitchen where they can make incredible one-pot dishes with veggies from the local market,” Kittsley said.

A trip to the Community Farmers market will also offer food-making demonstrations, free samples, mini-classes and more.

Other participating growers include Bob’s Veggie Patch LLC, P&P Farm and Tractor, Greens on the Gro and Mitchell’s Natural Produce.

Future plans include adding locally caught seafood, locally made cheese and healthy dinners to go.

For more information, call 761-9816, e-mail or visit

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.