Shopping Local:Downtown Lakeland Farmers Curbside Market
When we were looking to move to Lakeland almost two years ago, we were told by numerous natives that we HAD to check out the seemingly endless events held downtown. The community seemed to be unified in the pride that they had for these events, and the town they lived in collectively, and they had every right too. From First Fridays- a themed block party- to the weekly Farmers Market, and everything in between, Halloween scavenger hunts, the yearly Christmas Parade, there was always something to do within our city limits. Then as we all know COVID happened,and those events have been slowly cancelled, postponed, or spread apart, all except The Downtown Lakeland Farmers Curb Market.
Except for a brief deferment during lockdown and a few weeks after, the market has come back for your weekly enjoyment, with adjustments made so that everyone has a safe environment to shop and spend the day in one of Lakelands Sacred spaces.
The new hours are every Saturday from 8am- 1pm (weather permitted) and the stands now run from Oak all the way to Kentucky. Although there is more space, that does not mean there are more vendors, in fact there are less vendors than pre-Covid, the extra block or so is there so that every tent can be safely distanced from one another. You will see all vendors wearing masks when interacting with customers and cannot social distance, and many if anot all of the visitors have mask readily available if not being worn for close interactions.
You will be able to find all the fresh produce you want, ready to eat food, Kambuba ( which I will admit I still do not fully understand), plants, Steampunk Jewlery, and some of the best baked goods in Lakeland! My personal Favorite when it comes to bakery items is Kitchen 63. Every week they come out with mouthwatering confectionaries that will make you make Saturday your cheat day without any guilt. I am currently nibbling on my Butterscotch Biscotti ($3 a bag or two for $5) right now as I write this. I mean I needed to get my inspiration on right? If you follow them on Instagram (Kitchen.63) You will see a list of goods they are preparing for the coming Saturday as well as an option to pre-order for the easiest and most social distant of transactions.
You will find that a lot of stands have taken to this method. It is understood that you may want the items, but want to also limit your exposure to the public gathering, so online ordering is available at a lot of the food related vendors, which is appreciated by many. If you aren’t going to order a head of time make sure you get to the market nice and early to make sure you have access to all the goods in stock!
Another one of my favorites is the newly established Wafu. Which is Lakelands first Taiyaki stand! Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake, that is filled with sweets, the most common is red bean paste. Since seeing them on Insta I have been absolutely obsessed! It was actually what got me to go to the Market again Post- COVID. They have the red beam filling along with Nutella and custard, and rumors are a matcha filling is coming as well! I love them so much that my punch card is almost full! I highly recommend making a stop.
I would be remiss if I did not mention my one other must buy when I go to the market. Red Roof Farms honey, is a must have in my house. We buy the medium size honey bears $8.00, of wild flower for my allergies, and Orange Blossom, which is the tastiest honey I have ever had. It is such a pleasure to add to my morning tea. They offer a variety of flavors, which you can try at your leisure, and this family owned farm is so charming you may just find yourself talking to them about everything from the weather to how to harvest honey! A must stop if ever there was one.
The first time I went, I was nervous, we had been strictly home except necessities, and this seemed a frivolous risk. I was wrong, the time I went 11:30 was not crowded, everyone stood at an appropriate distance from each other or were masked up. Walking the streets of the beloved downtown on a warm morning was just the thing to clear the cobwebs. It was a lovely outdoor excursion that really made me understand the value of this market, it wasn’t just the amazing wares to be had that made me feel elated, it was also the comradely and community that I had been missing without even knowing it. I will admit I was one of those nay sayers when they reopened huffing and puffing etc etc, but I understand now why it was so important to open. Just knowing it is there every Saturday is a huge comfort, having that constant that even though the world is crazy I can get out of my head, out of my world and out of my house, even for the briefest of times and be apart of this community that we so love.
So if you are up to it, I highly suggesting visiting the Lakeland Farmer Curb Market, and whether or not it will be for the first time or a welcoming back I promise you that the minute you step foot on the pavement you will feel like you are being welcomed by an old friend.