Zone 3’s Quanita May brings changes to farmers’ market
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Downtown Farmers’ Market in Daytona Beach has been a staple in the area for decades.
It has been at its current location on City Island in the parking lot next to Jackie Robinson Ballpark and across from the library for over 40 years.
Every Saturday from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m., people can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and more from local farmers, businesses and vendors at a decent price.
City officials want to address health disparities within the city, especially the 32114 zip, which is a food desert with high poverty, disproportionate health disparities and lack of access to healthy foods.
“The city commission supports getting more healthy foods in the 32114 zip code. Doing this helps. The hope is that people come once a week and buy fresh produce. It’s like shopping at any grocery store,” commented Quanita May, Daytona Beach’s commissioner for Zone 3. May is also a professional fitness trainer and dance instructor.
For months, May has worked behind the scenes to increase business and traffic flow at the market. One of her key goals was to get the market to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
At Mays’ urging, that happened for the first time on Sept. 28. People can now swipe their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase items.
“We wanted to reach out to the community, support the community and support a healthy lifestyle within the community,” said Melanie John, market manager for the farmers’ market.
“This increases the longevity of life, health and well-being of our community. We try to educate the community on eating healthy.
“We want to let them know that eating fresh fruits and vegetables don’t have to be so expensive. If you shop local, you save more money and support your community.”
Healthy and homemade
The true treasures of the market are the vendors that sell their products there. Some have been there for decades. The vendors also support the EBT move.
Gloria, Pat and Al McConnehead are siblings who sell honey, fresh eggs, jelly, pickles, preserves and more through Olcies Gourmet Preserves. All products are homemade.
The siblings named their business after their late mother who taught them to make the products; their mom learned from her mother.
“We’ve been here at this market since 1978. We have some great experiences and stories. Over the past few years, things have died down a little here at the market. The younger generations don’t know we’re here. We need to get more people to come out,” said Gloria McConnehead.
Peas, okra and more
Larry Evans, also known as the “Pea Man,” has been at the market since 1985.
He sells peas, peanuts, sugar cane, butter beans, snap peas, squash, okra and more through Evans Farming.
Evans told the Daytona Times, “I am a farmer! My dad and grandfather both farmed. They were sharecroppers. My family roots go back to slavery in South Carolina.
“I do pretty well here every week. People keep buying the peas. They haven’t run me away. More people need to come out and get some of this fresh food, which is natural and better for your health.”
Move to Friday Natural
Springs Dairy, owned by Martin and Judy Woods, also has a strong presence at the market.
“We have quite a strong following. Many people come out and buy our products. Some even come back next week and buy more. It’s slow right now, but next month gets busier,” noted Jeff Greer, manager of Natural Springs Dairy.
Another change coming to the market is a move to a new day, time and location.
The Daytona Beach City Commission has agreed at the request of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to move the market to Friday night from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on the corner of Magnolia and Beach Street.
“We want to make the market more interactive and lively. We hope to get more vendors in there to sell fresh fruits, vegetables and produce,” May explained.
“We also want some arts and crafts as well as live entertainment. It’s part of the process to also boost up downtown. The DDA has been working on this going back to late 2018.”
The DDA is one of several city boards; it focuses on funding projects and improvements downtown. The DDA manages the farmers’ market.
The move could come to fruition as early as January 2020.
“I don’t know. I just hope it works,” said Greer.
Al McConnehead added, “I don’t really like it, but maybe change is good. DeLand and Daytona are two different places. Many people go to the DeLand market on Friday. The idea is to get a public boost to the market and downtown area of the city.”
Those wishing to be a vendor at the market pay $15 for a 10×10 square-foot space or $40 per month.
For more information on the Downtown Farmers’ Market or to be a vendor, call 386-671-8189 or email email@example.com.