If you’re tired of dining hall food or sick of feeding yourself and happen to be feeling adventurous on a Wednesday afternoon, hop on a Route 5 bus and head downtown to the corner of SE 1st Street and University Ave. For one afternoon each week, Bo Diddley Community Plaza is home to the Union Street Farmers’ Market where more than 60 vendors come together to sell their goods.
Not only are you surrounded by lots of ready-to-eat and fresh foods, but you can also check out artwork and crafts made by local artisans and a variety of plants and flowers for sale. Additionally, musicians showcase their talent on the outdoor stage and help to set the warm, homey tone for the event.
Beware: parking may be tricky if you plan to drive instead of taking the RTS bus or walking there. If this is the case, wait until 5pm when the restrictions are lifted from the metered spots. Also, the best deals happen after 6pm according to a pro tip from a Yelp review. It’s a win-win situation.
But now, let’s focus on the important stuff (yes, the food). I recently visited the market and picked out some of the vendors to showcase their food and some of what they have to offer.
Vegetables & Fruits
By far, this is the largest group represented. If you go towards the back half of the market, try not to be too overwhelmed by all the colorful produce as you make your way down the sidewalk. Swallowtail Farm’s booth displayed a large selection of mixed veggies, including peppers and green onions. They explained to me that they are a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, which basically means that you can purchase a “share” of their harvest for an entire season.
Richard Hoffaker, one of the vendors I visited, had his table covered with dozens of eggs. A sign indicated that they were “fresh” and “pesticide-free.” He commutes from Orange Lake to Gainesville for the event and is a regular at the market.
As you walk by Vine, it’s extremely hard to resist the smell of the fresh, organic bread. Their sourdough-based bread only consists of three ingredients: flour, water and salt. They also have a cafe location only a few minutes’ walk away on Main St.
Sara’s Seasonings makes their own gluten free spices and seasonings, which are both vegan and vegetarian friendly. The family-owned business also has different types of soups and rice dishes to try.
But wait, it doesn’t end here: there’s so much more offered at the market, including pizza, baked goods and coffee. So next time you’re running out of food in your mini fridge, come out and support the local farmers and vendors while enjoying some of the freshest local fare Gainesville has to offer.
Location: 111 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
Hours of Operation: Wed, 4pm-7pm