Cravings Blog

New retail stand provides community with place to shop for locally grown organic produce

The retail spot in front of the Geraldson Community Farm's barn with farm manager Christa Leonard displays a variety of vegetables and greens.
The retail spot in front of the Geraldson Community Farm's barn with farm manager Christa Leonard displays a variety of vegetables and greens. ttompkins@bradenton.com

When passersby stopped at Geraldson Community Farm to shop for vegetables, they were met with a colorful, fresh spread that only members of the community-supported farm could enjoy.

The farm’s operation manager, Christa Leonard, wanted to change that.

The farm’s new retail stand, which sits in front of the Geraldson Community Farm barn at 1401 99th St. NW., opened on Dec. 1 and provides the Bradenton community with a place to shop for locally grown organic produce. Most of the vegetables are sourced from GCF’s fields, including uncommon varieties like komatsuna, a Japanese mustard spinach, and nero tondo radishes. Other staples people often shop for, like potatoes, onions and apples, also are available.

“Everything we sell is responsibly raised or made,” Leonard said. “All of the produce is organic or from a place we know and trust.”

With the community-supported model, members pay $475 for a half share or $875 for a full share, which covers 14 or 26 weeks of vegetable pickups, respectively. The cost works out to about $30 per week and helps the farm cover packing boxes, purchasing boxes and fuel for travel to remote pickup stations.

The stand will also be a home base for the community farm’s mobile market, which is set to launch in January. Last year, Geraldson Community Farm and the Florida Department of Health Manatee were awarded a $100,000 grant to start the mobile market. A retrofitted Airstream bus will bring produce to impoverished communities known as “food deserts” in Manatee County, or places where residents do not have easy access to fresh, healthy foods.

Leonard’s goal was to launch the mobile market in February 2015. But since Leonard was busy with her 2-month-old son, Huck, the schedule for the project changed. The Airstream will get registered with the state next week, she said, and then go to get wrapped in artwork designed by a student from Manatee School for the Arts.

People often confuse Geraldson Community Farm with the nearby Geraldson’s Farm Market, 9812 9th Ave. NW. The community farm is adjacent to Robinson Preserve and the Geraldson family farm market is located around the corner, closer to Orban’s Nursery. Though both are associated in some way with the Geraldson family and both strive to provide the community with locally sourced food, they’re different operations.

Dr. Carroll “Jerry” Geraldson is well known in the Manatee County community for his work as a soils chemist and researcher for the University of Florida until his death at age 89 in 2007. Geraldson Community Farm was named after him.

“When we sold the property to the county, we just didn’t want it to be developed,” said Geraldson’s son, Greg Geraldson, who now runs the Geraldson’s Farm Market with the help of his children.

The Geraldson Community Farm retail spot may bring competition for Geraldson’s Farm Market, but Greg Geraldson sees it as a good thing.

“We do different things, even if it is competition,” he said. “It brings people out to the area.”

Leonard plans to expand the Geraldson Community Farm market’s offerings to include organic teas, salves and fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha.

The market accepts cash, credit cards and EBT cards and is open five days a week. It also reduces food waste for the farm and helps Geraldson Community Farm members fill in the gaps between pickups.

For more information about becoming a vendor at Geraldson Community Farm, contact Leonard through GCF’s website at geraldsoncommunityfarm.org/contact/.

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday

Local vendors found at Geraldson Community Farm

The market stand in front of the Geraldson Community Farm barn, 1401 99th St. NW., aims to promote locally made products and local vendors.

  • Angels of Geraldson Farm honey, essential oil, lip balm, bee pollen, soap
  • SugarCubed breads, pies, coffee, dinner rolls
  • Glenn Family Bakery individual pies, breads, salted caramel bars, muffins, gluten-free cookies
  • Homosapien Organics all-natural, chemical-free Eucalyptus and Peppermint home surface cleaning spray
  • Sunshine Canning jams and pickled vegetables

Farm manager Christa Leonard has space left to fill on the market shelves. Local producers can contact Leonard by emailing her at info@fwcrcd.org or through the Geraldson Community Farm website.

Hours for the Geraldson Community Farm retail market

  • Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Closed Sunday, Monday
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