Sisters Mary Kay Oney, left, and Kathy Gonya operate Sweet Ida Mae’s Bakery, a mobile bakery rehabbed from a 1985 Ohio bomb squad truck. The sisters bake breads, cupcakes, cookies and chocolates from their cottage home kitchen.
PALM HARBOR – Sunday morning shoppers can enjoy live music under shady oaks at the Cross Roads Farmers Market. Located in a park-like setting at the corner of Belcher and Curlew roads, the market offers fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, seafood, baked goodies and handcrafted items.
The market is held on the grounds of the historic Hartley House, which operates as the North Pinellas Historical Museum. It is the only year-round farmers market in north Pinellas County.
The market and museum are both managed by the Palm Harbor Historical Society under contract with Pinellas County. Proceeds from the market help maintain the museum and grounds. The market is supported solely by community volunteers who help vendors set up booth displays and help direct visitor traffic.
Market Manager Barb Haley said that between 300 to 400 people visit during the winter months. During the hot summer months, the market brings in 150 to 200 people each Sunday.
“I love meeting the people that come through here,” she said. “It’s shade in the summer and shelter in the winter.”
Haley has managed the market for the last two years. After working as an insurance consultant for 25 years, Haley decided to retire at the age of 70.
“I found out that the most boring thing of all was to sit at home,” she said.
In 2008, the market relocated from a downtown Palm Harbor parking lot to its current location next to the museum.
“I have a lot of vendors who say they come to this market specifically because it’s a more relaxed, friendly market,” Haley said.
Jason Webb, manager of Kilpatrick Produce, has been a vendor for two years. Webb brings in local produce from Ruskin, Lakeland and Plant City and also sells out-of-season produce from California and South America.
“We’ve been in business since 1982, and we go to a lot of the farmers markets around here,” said owner Bill Berube of The Cheese Lodge. Berube sells ice-packed sharp cheddars, Swiss, Havarti and Fontina cheeses along with sheep and goat milk cheese. Berube owns a brick and mortar store in Elfers, three miles south of New Port Richey.
Alma Tadema, owner of Cookies Cart, has been in the retail seafood business for almost eight years and offers seafood at market prices. She sells jumbo Atlantic shrimp and New England sea scallops from a truck equipped with a refrigerator-freezer, stainless steel sinks and water. She smokes salmon and mullet and sells fresh cut red grouper from Tarpon Springs.
“I try to get a very fresh commodity and sell it very reasonable,” she said.
For the past five years, Joe Sicilian has had a lot of fun selling local honey at the market every Sunday. He gets Florida wildflower and orange blossom honey from suppliers in Pasco County, Sarasota and Tampa. Alone at the market on Fridays and Saturdays, Joe hangs out his sign on a bench and waits for repeat customers.
Theresa King-Smith makes bags of natural granola laced with local honey. She recently moved from Las Vegas, Nev., to Spring Hill and loves the Palm Harbor area. She was out of work and started Aunt T’s Granola ‘N Nuts.
Smith has been a vendor since October 2011. She can sell a bag of granola for a buck more at the Cross Roads market than she can at the Spring Hill market. Smith said the Spring Hill market is located in a parking lot and is more like a flea market.
“Another nice thing about this market is that the music is playing and you’re in a park,” Smith said. “It’s so relaxing.”
Acoustic guitarist-singer Frank Hewett from Tampa performs each week and has done so for the past two years.
“It’s great that it’s local and very festive,” said Andre Schaughnessy on her second trip out to the market.
Lunch-time visitors can grab an all-beef, New York style hot dog or bratwurst from vendor Laila Sultan of Blazing Kitchen. Sultan makes spanakopita (Greek spinach pie), baklava and stuffed potatoes with pure ground beef. She has been cooking on site for the past four years.
Ken Kasper from Freeland, Mich., said this is his first visiting. “We took a bike ride to the market to check it out,” he said. “Florida has a lot of farmers markets.”
Snowbird Cheryl Hudecek from Cleveland, Ohio, said she likes to visit farmers markets and said it is important to support local, independent merchants and artisans.
Seamstress and designer Anna Moynihan provides affordable motorcycle gear such as fleece and flannel scarves and neck muffs to fellow bikers. In addition to neck warmers, Moynihan makes colorful aprons for biker-cooks. She drives an hour each way from Weeki Wachee to participate and sell handcrafted goods.
Roger and Janet Wheeler design sterling silver wire-wrapped gemstone jewelry.
“I’ve been cutting the stones for about 40 years,” Roger said.
During the 1973 oil crisis, Roger was laid off from his job at General Motors. He started cutting stones and stuck with it for the last 40 years while working in the aircraft repair industry.
The market on occasion brings in rescued dogs from animal shelters that are scheduled to be euthanized. Rescue Pet Adoption volunteers provide veterinary care, shots, flea treatments and certificates for dogs placed in local households. Last year, the market in unison with the nonprofit agency found homes for nearly 70 dogs in Palm Harbor and the surrounding area.
The Cross Roads Farmers Market is located at 2043 Curlew Road and is open each Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Vendor rental space is $20 per week or $70 per month.
For more information, call the North Pinellas Historical Museum at 724-3054.