When I got to the market, this past Saturday, after finding one of the few free parking spots, I saw a colorful sea of merchants and people. There were actual farmers at this market, mixed in with so much more, like jam makers, and honey merchants.
My first stop was at the Winter Park Dairy booth to taste cheese. David Green, the cheese maker and owner of Winter Park Dairy, said his cheese is aged 60 days and he uses vegetarian rennet, instead of animal rennet. This means the aroma doesn't have the usual animal muskiness quality found in many other raw-milk cheeses. I bought a wedge of parmesan and a wedge of blue cheese.
My next was Ginger's Jams, Jellies And Such booth at the back of the market on the Street. Virginia Hartley makes her products using local Florida ingredients when possible. She sells to Winter Park Dairy and other area businesses. Hartley is a self-taught jam and jelly maker, she learned by trial and error, and has loved every step. She makes wonderfully unusual flavors like Lavender jelly ($4), Ginger jelly ($6), and Banana Strawberry jam ($6). I bought a jar of each bringing the cost down one dollar.
Of the farmers, I stopped at Lake Meadow Naturals, a Central Florida located farm. They were selling eggs for $4 to $7 a dozen, along with natural meats from their farm.
I also got to chat to Roger of Waterkist Farm, a hydroponic farm based in Sanford, Florida. They are a small 13,000 square foot under-roof farm that grows vegetables and micro-greens. They sell to Orlando area hotels like the Waldorf Astoria and Peabody Orlando Hotel.
The sweetest place I visited was the Winter Park Honey booth. Jean, the bee keeper, was as sweet as her honey. As she talked of the wonderful medicinal benefits of eating raw, unfiltered-honey, from allergy to arthritis relief, she handed me samples of of honey. When I bought a one pound jar of Lavender ($12) and Meadowfoam ($15) honey, Jean included a free sample jar of Flu-Bee-Gone and Meadow Mint honey. She said, "We give free samples out to introduce the new varieties to our customers."
The Winter Park Farmers Market is located at 200 West New England Avenue in Winter Park (near Orlando) every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.