Continuing in the pattern of taking photos of St. Augustine, I dutifully took my camera along for our weekly visit to the Saturday morning Old City Farmer's Market. Taking place on the grounds of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and the Anastasia State Park, the line of vendor tents has grown over the years to include fresh produce, homemade quilts, bonsai plants, driftwood art, homemade soaps, freshly-baked breads, pottery, locally grown meats and seafood, and even massage therapy. When we first arrived back in St. Augustine in June, I wrote about the smaller Wednesday morning market at the beach pier, but this one on Saturday is our favorite.
We've enjoyed frequenting this market over the years and tend to have an idea of what we will buy before we go, but often find something new to bring home as well. Today, we started at the east end of the line of stalls, and made a bee-line for the baker, Maria who is Albanian and is one of the more popular vendors with her unending variety of fresh breads from loaves of multi-grain, garlic and rosemary bread sticks, and rye rolls, to apple strudel wrap-ups, cinnamon breakfast loaves, and (what we headed for) cannoli.
We bought two cannoli and sat for a couple of minutes on the sidelines watching the people stroll along as we ate our late breakfast. We then passed the very nice lady who sells fresh coffee from Kenya where she used to live on a coffee farm. We met her last week and she let us try some and told us all about the environmentally-friendly, and fair trade ways in which this coffee makes it to our area through the Growers Alliance company, which gives Kenyan growers about 10 times the profit of larger chain companies. Read more about their efforts on their website or the local write-ups about them here and here. We bought a bag last week, and can't stop raving at how distinctly different and wonderful it is. Chris made sure to tell her today how much we like it and would be back for more.
Next, we headed down the market passed the local bluegrass band, which has anywhere from 4 to a dozen people playing at any given time. They are here every week playing and selling their CDs and taking donations in their open guitar case. Complete with banjos, guitars, fiddles, stand up bass, and slide guitar, this colorful band of men and women create a very 'down-home-Florida' atmosphere at the market...and a feeling that would be sorely missed by the patrons if they weren't there. It's nice to hear traditional tunes being played as we stroll under the huge oak trees which drip with spanish moss. Here is a short video from my camera where you can hear a bit of the sounds.
Eggplant, peaches, a cucumber, and an avocado were added to our canvas shopping bag as we shopped at the produce stands, although this week we passed on the "extras" such as marinated olives and dried organic fruit and granola mixes.
If you already have finished your grocery shopping for the week, and don't need to buy any of the locally-grown produce here, don't worry...there are plenty more things that you can fill your bag with.
Like wooden mermaids with seashell coverings and mossy hair.
Or, watercolor paintings of palm trees, Florida marshes, sail boats, or seagulls.
How about long driftwood sculptures of carved egrets, herons, or large-necked pelicans?
There's rows and rows of homemade soaps, lotions, and face scrubs with any scent you prefer. Sandalwood, lavender, rose, or tropical mango.
Then before you head home, stop by and get a 5-minute chair massage, palm reading, or even a temporary tattoo.
One thing we noticed is that even though we like to collect one piece of local art from places that we've visited, we didn't have a unique piece from St. Augustine, or any place in Florida for that matter...so since we've moved back, we've kept our eyes open for anything that caught our attention. It's a little tricky to find a happy medium between the tacky 'beach-retiree-vacation-condo' pieces, and pieces that wouldn't show any hint of Florida or St. Augustine. It's just so easy to associate palm trees, seagulls, shells, and sunsets with the cheesy "Florida" art, even-though that's somewhat how Florida is known, so a bit of this was allowed in our quest for a work that fit our style.
Alas, today we found an adorable and unique print from a local artist, Elenor. We chatted with her as we browsed her drawings, sketches, and collages from the "Sunshine State" and also, from (our second home, and one of her favorite vacation spots) Italy. We got to talking with her about Italy and then decided on a collage piece which combines several aspects of both our homes. There is an orange tree, alligator, and the tropical lime-green parrots that live in town, plus after looking closely, the alligator is made from an Italian street map. It's quirky, symbolic, and perfect for our wall.
This concludes the tour of the Saturday market. You are invited back next Saturday (but only if you can find your own transportation to St. Augustine).
Every Saturday, rain or shine, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
St. Augustine Amphitheatre
1340 A1A South
St. Augustine, FL 32080