Visiting your local farmers market just
might inspire you to be more conscientious about your everyday lifestyle and
Local Roots Farmers
Markets—which operates nine markets in Lee County—recently became a Blue Zones
Recognized organization, part of a global movement that encourages communities to
implement healthful mindsets and habits that may extend and improve residents’ longevity
and quality of life. Local Roots is the first in the state to receive the
recognition for its category.
“They’re working with the Blue Zones Project to help make
healthy choices easier by becoming a tobacco-free farmers market; offering healthy,
nutritious food options; discouraging the consumption of sugary-sweetened
beverages; and promoting volunteer opportunities,” explains Blue Zones Project
Southwest Florida Engagement Lead Kate Walter.
The expanding initiative grew out of the bestseller by
National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner. In The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from
the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Buettner focused
on communities where people live active lives well into their 100s to discern what disparate
places from Italy to California to Japan have in common. Nine core principles were distilled as the common
denominators that could be applied in other communities to stave off
preventable chronic disease and boost emotional wellness.
Florida, the Blue Zones Project was launched by NCH
Healthcare System in 2015, and more than 400
organizations and 16,180 residents have signed up, says Walter. Most are
based in Collier County; a dozen organizations are in Bonita Springs and Estero,
including the Bonita Bay community.
co-owner Jean Baer read The Blue Zones
book and its sequel. Joining Blue Zones “just solidifies our commitment to
promoting healthier lifestyles,” Baer says. “We’ve signed the dotted line and
it holds us to a level of accountability to do certain things.” The first two
Blue Zones markets will be at the Bonita Springs and Coconut Point locations.
More than 60
percent of the vendors have pledged to join the movement; only 25 percent were
required. More bicycling racks, cooking demonstrations using Florida produce
and supporting the Lakes Park community garden are some of the commitments
Local Roots has made. Most complex was meeting federal regulations for accepting
food stamps to help give low-income residents who live in food deserts better
access to fresh food.
Giving back to the
community is already a hallmark of Local Roots’ philosophy. Last year, for
example, 5,000 pounds of produce, baked goods and seafood that wouldn’t carry
over from one market to the next were donated by vendors, picked up by
volunteers and distributed through the F.I.S.H. of SanCap pantry. Food that is
not consumable by humans is donated to CROW (Care and Rehabilitation of
Wildlife) on Sanibel to feed injured wildlife undergoing treatment. “It’s a
full-circle program in that almost all of the food goes to use,” says Baer.
Shoppers can pick
up a pledge sheet to join the movement and commit to lifestyle changes such as
establishing a walking schedule; incorporating more beans, fruits and
vegetables into their diets; and developing a positive circle of friends or
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New Captiva Island Farmers Market
The Captiva Island Farmers Market will become Local Roots’
ninth market in Lee County when it opens for its first season December 19 at
the entrance to South Seas Island Resort.
The resort approached the
Local Roots co-owners with the idea of providing the market as an amenity
during the busy tourist season. The Local Roots co-owners both live on Sanibel
Island and have had a long involvement in business and the community. Jean Baer
served as the South Seas recreation director for 14 years. Betsy Ventura and
her husband, Marcel, own island-based YOLO Watersports, and her mother is a
year-round Captiva resident.
The Captiva Island Farmers
Market will be held each Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., through April 3. “Having
the market on Tuesdays gives residents and visitors another market shopping day
other than Sundays on Sanibel,” says Ventura. Local Roots laid down its
own roots at the popular Sanibel Island Farmers Market a decade ago.
Ventura notes that, with 20
vendors, Captiva is their smallest market, “but our lineup of vendors is packed
with quality. We have a great balance that will be sure to please everyone.”
She predicts golf carts and bikes will be the main modes of transportation to
and from the market. “Each market seems to develop its own unique
personality, so we’re excited to watch Captiva grow into its own,” Ventura
South Seas Island
Resort is located at 5400 South Seas Plantation Road on Captiva Island. The market will be situated outside
the resort guard gate in a parking lot near Doc Ford’s restaurant. It is open
to the public.
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Written by Cathy
Chestnut, a freelance writer and frequent contributor to TOTI Media who
explores the people and places that make Southwest Florida, her hometown
stomping grounds, unique.