By Linda Haase
Anyone who knows Emily Lilly can tell you where she spends Saturday mornings from November to early May.
It’s the same place she’s been for the past 23 years — the Boca Raton Greenmarket. Lilly, who has been the manager since the venture began, is dedicated to bringing farm-to-table produce, artisan products, delicious food — and more — to customers in a fun, relaxed ambiance.
The market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May 9, has a sweet spot at the Boca Raton City Hall grounds, where it relocated after 20 years at Royal Palm Place. There are plenty of trees to provide shade and a stage-like area for musical entertainment.
Variety is key at this market, which has about 40 vendors, says Lilly. In other words, expect the unexpected. Looking for cranberry beans? They’re front and center, along with more than 80 kinds of herbs and spices, lemon peel strips, made-to-order guacamole, jackfruit, gargantuan carrots, truffle burrata, aromatherapy necklaces, organic butterfly pea flower tea and even root beer-float-flavored finishing butter. (Mix it with sriracha and simple syrup for a to-die-for glaze for chicken wings, ham or ribs.)
Be sure to stop by the Broward Beekeepers Association booth, where experts share information on the importance and quirks of bees. (Who knew honeybees have two stomachs or that a queen bee can lay more than 2,000 eggs a day?)
Arrive early and join the free one-hour yoga class, then cool off with coconut water served inside the freshly carved out fruit. Wander around and you’ll discover lush flowers and plants, Mediterranean food, nuts galore, fresh-squeezed juice and more, including a soothing hand wash at the La Cure booth.
Expect a line at “the fish guy” booth, where customers exchange recipes and pleasantries while waiting up to 30 minutes for the coveted smoked fish dip, stone crab claws, homemade mustard sauce, fresh fish and other ocean delights. The market began with a mission, explains Lilly: “to offer produce from farm-to-table with nothing in between.” It evolved, adding local artisans showcasing their products, music and more.
Now, it’s also a Saturday morning destination for the entire family, including the family pup. As for the future? Lilly has one desire. “I’d love better weather on Saturdays. This year it has been horrendous. It does not make for a good outdoor venture.”
New Sunday market
Can’t get to the greenmarket on Saturdays? Or want to double your weekend fun? Head to the newly opened Florida Fresh Market at Mizner Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The market may continue year-round, organizers say. At the south end of the center, between Lord & Taylor and Yard House, the market features a fresh produce center along with local vendors highlighting prepared foods, jams and jellies, breads, local honeys, unique artisan items and more.
“We are excited to offer our guests yet another reason to visit Mizner Park,” says general manager Dana Romanelli Schearer. “With our many offerings and beautiful outdoor space, Mizner Park lends itself to Florida Fresh Market events, especially during the milder South Florida months.”