It’s finally fall in Florida. And although we have yet to experience a shift in temperature that those in the northern U.S. are privy to, we definitely get a shift in atmosphere.
My favorite thing about fall in Palm Beach County is the opening of our green markets. In the western communities, we’re blessed with two: Saturdays in Wellington and Sundays in Royal Palm Beach.
The Green Market at Wellington, which is each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next to the Wellington Amphitheater, kicked off Oct. 7 with a massive turnout. The Royal Palm Beach Green Market and Bazaar opened for the season Sunday, and is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Sunday through April at the village’s Veterans Park.
While my absolute favorite thing at our local green markets — the cider doughnuts, served hot and fresh — usually arrive later in the season, there’s plenty to experience and buy right now.
Here’s a look at five of my favorite things about our western communities green markets:
1. The dogs
OK, hear me out. I know this is a weird thing to start with. But as a dog person — I have a corgi and a corgi mix — there are few things I appreciate more than a dog-friendly environment. Our green markets in the western communities are very welcoming to our canine companions. Some vendors even put out dishes of water for passing pups.
At Royal Palm Beach’s green market on Sunday, I met Bailey, a 6-year-old dog owned by Maria Goodstein of Wellington. Goodstein and her daughter, Jessica, were walking through the green market accompanied by Bailey, who seemed eager to sniff everything and everyone she could.
“She’s been pretty good,” Maria Goodstein said, laughing as Bailey tugged at her leash to get closer to a passing dog. “She’s really excited to be here.”
2. The fresh produce
Several booths at each green market sell fresh fruits and vegetables, everything from mangoes to celery to cauliflower infused with antioxidants or beta carotene. There are great deals to be found, like the two massive oranges I picked up at the Wellington green market for $1.
3. The fresh food
I met Pamela Keitz of Pamela’s Everything Cookies at the Wellington green market and fell in love with her pumpkin bread. She’s one of several bakers and chefs who sell their homemade goods at the green markets. Next to the Wellington Amphitheater on Saturday, shoppers could find fresh kombucha, vegan eats and homemade hummus near a booth serving samples of tacos from the new Don Chepo’s restaurant, opening soon near the Fresh Market.
In Royal Palm Beach, I was tempted from across the park by a sign for fresh lemonade. Vendors were offering samples of honey and banana bread, while The Deli Dog served gourmet hot dogs, Philly cheese steaks and more from a cart with a line that was daunting, but worth the wait.
4. The crafts
There are gems to be found at each green market in the form of artisan vendors from throughout the area. In Royal Palm Beach, I found Melinda Miller of Loxahatchee, whose Wild Turtle Soap Company is a popular stop for shoppers. I purchased two perfectly scented scrubs from Miller: “coffee house” and “coconut lime.” Each was $12, a fair price for a product with an ingredient list I don’t need a doctorate to understand.
5. The conversation
You never know who you will meet at the green market.
As I huddled under a tent away from a brief downpour that saturated the Wellington green market Saturday and soaked my reporter’s notebook — both green markets are rain-or-shine — I met a woman who said she had just moved to Wellington about five months ago. We began talking with the vendor under whose tent we were taking shelter, and the talk turned to growing seasons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy as that new Florida resident to hear we have a long berry season.
In Royal Palm Beach, I struck up a conversation over soaps with Kimberly Aschauer, a retired inventor. She told me she got her start at green markets selling a “$25 face lift” called the Facelift Bungee. Her invention was featured on “Shark Tank,” and reported on by outlets including NBC and ABC. As she finished her purchase, she turned to soapmaker Miller.
“You have a great product here,” Aschauer said. “You could do this, too.”
Dates: Each Saturday through April
Hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Address: Wellington Amphitheater, 12150 Forest Hill Blvd.
Where to park: In lots surrounding amphitheater; some overflow available at Publix plaza at South Shore and Forest Hill boulevards.
Royal Palm Beach
Dates: Each Sunday through April
Hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Address: Veterans Park, 1036 Royal Palm Beach Blvd.
Where to park: In lots around park.