7960938497?profile=originalDana Bass, who owns La Paella Chef, serves up steaming hot paella. Photos by Linda Haase/The Coastal Star

Related Story: Online farmers markets emerge as local ones close down

By Linda Haase

For years, Lori Nolan and her daughter had a Saturday ritual: They walked to the Delray Beach GreenMarket.


And until the coronavirus came calling, they still reserved Saturdays for the greenmarket — Nolan is the market’s manager; her daughter is a vendor.


While Nolan waits to hear if the summer greenmarket can open, she's planning next season’s winter greenmarket — which is its 25th anniversary. “It’s a shame having to close the market but there was no way around it,” Nolan said. “It is so sad. It’s not only a great place to buy fresh food, it is such a part of the community.”


Nolan is using the downtime to work on planning “special things” for the anniversary.


“We will celebrate all season long with activities, giveaways and several other things. We will be a quarter of a century old and every year it just gets better,” she said.


So what will visitors find when the market reopens?


“It’s a healthy, happy Saturday morning vibe. Coming to the park and shopping at the market is a nice way to start your weekend. You can bring the dog, the kids. You go home with healthy fresh groceries,” Nolan said.

7960938893?profile=originalCustomers can follow their noses to fresh breads from the French Bakery.


The market, which has relocated at least 10 times since it was created in 1996 by the Community Redevelopment Agency, draws big crowds at its current Old School Square Park locale.


“See you next weekend” is an oft-repeated phrase here, as visitors wind their way through the 60-plus vendors selling fresh cut flowers, plants and gourmet fare.


What’s not there? Jewelry, clothes and other items of that ilk.


“The market is food- and plant-based. We don’t sell other products. That is not our mission. The vision of the CRA is that we maintain a true farmer’s market,” explained Nolan.


Arrive when the market opens at 9 a.m., pick up an instrument and join the two-hour family music circle.


“It gets jamming over there and the playground is also right there. It’s a kids’ dream on Saturday morning,” said Nolan.
Live music continues all day — another band plays from 11 a.m. until the market’s 2 p.m. closing.


The event is nirvana for foodies, who can savor Italian, Cuban, Peruvian, Mexican, American and other tempting cuisine. What's here? Pierogis, paella, açai bowls, crabcakes, arepas, tamales, beans and rice, vegetable spring rolls, smoothies, Italian ices, Hungarian cinnamon horn rolls, and so much more.


There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the food, but the take-home items are just as tantalizing. Bone broth, homemade granola, fresh seafood, produce, spices galore, salad dressings, chocolate cashew butter, chocolate ginger rooibos tea, meatballs, sausage, pork chops, fresh pasta (gnocchi linguine, squid ink and more), salsa and guacamole, pumpkin bread, cookies of every shape and flavor, the list seems endless.


There’s even a chef’s showcase featuring mini cooking lessons and samples.

7960939065?profile=originalSpices include Nigerian and Egyptian mixes, lemon pepper, tandoori and ginger.


Signs denoting gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and sugar-free are plentiful here. There’s a reason for that, Nolan explained: “People are food savvy, they want to know where their food is coming from and what’s in it. Many have dietary restrictions. They want to talk to the people who made, grew or produced their food. They can do that here.”


The market is dog-friendly; some vendors cater to canines with food and treats and support dog rescue groups. “People can’t adopt on-site, but I have heard of dogs who have found forever homes after people visiting those booths found out about them,” Nolan said.


It’s just another reason the market is so special.


“I loved the market back when I was a customer. It is my passion now. I have the best job in Delray Beach. And my daughter is still with me on Saturday mornings,” Nolan said.

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