By Daniela Ortega, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The SOBE Farmer’s Market made its debut in “one of the ‘world’s most iconic streets,’ Ocean Drive in South Beach, right before the official start of summer in the middle of June. Every Saturday going forward the first-ever weekly farmer’s market will take place at 5th Street and Ocean Drive from 11AM to 7PM, rain or shine.
According to the organization, the “Farmers Market is only for those interested in displaying their own individually created items. Preference will be given to local artisans and/or items indigenous to South Florida.”
The man responsible for bringing this event to life is James Lamorte, a transplant from New York, and is often referred to as the ‘Market Man’ due to his 38 years of experience in the artisan market industry.
His first venture in Miami Beach was the Metroflea Miami Art Deco Artisan Market held also at Lummus Park (Ocean Drive at 14th Place) every Saturday and Sunday. Due partly to his success of the Artisan Market, the opening of the SOBE Farmer’s Market quickly followed.
Coming from New York, notorious for its walking and street shopping culture, Lamorte explained how in Miami Beach, “The markets here are so much better. It has a community feel and locals support us very much. The mix of locals as well as multitude of tourists make the markets very successful for us and the vendors.”
Of course starting a business in a new location has it challenges, however, the city of Miami Beach was quite helpful in getting things up and running, and contributing in terms of marketing and structure. Lamorte said, “The city of Miami Beach had been great.”
Explaining, “They are hands on to be sure the events are the best that they can be. I’ve been working with the tourism office as well as the real state office and they have been great in helping me get started and promoting the events. I work closely with the Ocean Drive Association and they are always there to support me.”
All new journeys come with unknowns, thankfully for Lamorte, Miami Beach has been positive thus far. The veteran market organizer said, “The biggest surprise is how everyone made me feel welcome here.”
Adding, “I uprooted my life in NY to come here not knowing anyone, but everyone has been amazing and supportive. I can honestly say I have not been disappointed at all yet (fingers crossed!).
The product available at the SOBE Farmer’s Market will consist of diverse organic, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items. As well as artisan food and merchandise, meaning it is hand-made, preferably local, indigenous, and of course, unique.
The market is also green, not allowing any plastic straws or bags to be used in the space. Businesses that provide its patrons with plastic straws are subject to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,500 by the city.