NICEVILLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) If you're looking to shop local, one of the easiest ways to support businesses in the area is to shop at a farmers market. One of the only farmers market from Pensacola to Panama City still open is in Niceville. But when there isn't a global pandemic, farmers markets are located just about everywhere.
Vendors from all over the Panhandle have gathered to sell their goods at the Niceville Farmers Market. (WJHG/WECP)
"We have markets at Rosemary Beach, Grand Boulevard in Sandestin, Niceville, and Seascape Resort, and growing. We are about to open a new market at Pier Park in Panama City (Beach) after this terrible coronavirus situation is over with," said Mark Foehrkole, the market manager for the 30A Farmers Markets.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the farmers market serves a valuable purpose for vendors from all over the Panhandle.
"It's a livelihood for all of the vendors. Some of our vendors have been doing our markets for seven years, and have been doing markets for ten years. A lot of them are farmers. They depend on being able to take their stores right to the end consumer," said Foehrkole.
Despite farmers markets in many areas closing for the time being, whether that's because outdoor permits have been restricted or simply because the city doesn't deem them safe, farmers markets are considered essential businesses, and here in Niceville vendors say they're doing their part to keep everyone safe.
"We are using all of the guidelines that the CDC has recommended, and put out. With our handwashing stations, our antibacterial soaps, our social distancing for sure. We've got our vendors eight to ten feet apart. Every vendor has a sign on their table that says 'Please do not touch display or touch any of the products,'" said Foehrkole.
Despite the major changes the coronavirus has forced this market to make, these farmers are looking forward to getting life back to normal and selling all over the Panhandle once again.
"We are thankful to God that we have the opportunity Ruckle Properties and the city of Niceville [gave us]. We are all looking forward to getting this all behind us, moving on, and opening all of our other farmers markets up that we have been doing for six almost seven years, and we are hoping and praying that the local fair will continue to support our local markets like they have in the past," concluded Foehrkole.
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