By DEBBIE FLESSNER

Columnist

Small town farmers markets are one of my favorite places to go.

Not only are you likely to find a plethora of useful, interesting and/or healthy things, but the people you meet, particularly the vendors, always make the trip worthwhile. One of my favorite new finds for a farmers market is the Surfside Sunshine Market, in Cape Coral.

This particular market takes place every Tuesday in the Shops at Surfside parking lot, on the corner of Veterans Parkway and Surfside Blvd. It’s one of three Cape Coral Markets—the other two are the Downtown Farmers Market and the Cape Coral Farmers market at Cape Harbour.

The Surfside Sunshine Market is not the largest market of its kind that I have visited, but it contained absolutely everything I would typically look for in a farmers market, with some additional treats, too. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite things to do at a market is to chat up the vendors, if they’re not too busy. Luckily, since I was there when it first opened, the vendors were able to take time to speak with me.

One of the first people I met at the market was Sue Linnell, who had racks and racks of handmade beaded jewelry. I looked through all the colorful bracelets and anklets and finally settled on a beautiful bracelet of various shade of blue, with an attached silver anchor. All the while, Sue and I were talking about this and that, and before I left, she showed me a pretty impressive “hands-free, reversible” umbrella — for those times when it’s pouring outside and you’re trying to open up your umbrella and get out of the car without getting soaked. Honestly, I though it was an ingenious idea.

As I kept strolling around the market, I passed by several produce stalls, as well as ones with fresh seafood, homemade jams and jellies and lots of other edible goodies. I made my second lengthy stop at a place with the best name I’ve ever seen at a farmers market — Horny Hair & Jewelry. Now this is a G-rated newspaper, so let me explain. Yasmin Johnston has her hair clips made from the horns of water buffalo in Asia. The buffalo are not killed for the horns, but apparently, they are a big source of meat there and their horns are a dispensable, or salable, byproduct.

Regardless, Yasmin spent quite a bit of time showing me how to use her clips, and she has a lot to choose from. Additionally, she has other types of jewelry, like earrings, bangles and bracelets, that are also made from the horns. I’m not the most skilled person in the world with hair accoutrements, but Yasmin assured me that if I just watched her YouTube video about how to correctly put the hair clip in, I would be a pro in no time. Yes, I left with one of her clips.

For my last long stop, I visited with Michael Wallace, who owns Pine Island Botanicals, a tropical and sub-tropical produce farm. He personally grows, along with his wife, who he calls The Sprout Queen, tropical fruits and nuts such as avocado, papaya, mango, carambola (star fruit), macadamia, lychee and citrus. Some of the fruits he brought with him to the market, I had never even seen before, much less tried. But Michael said that he had recipes for every single thing he was selling, including the fresh sprouts, sunflower greens and wheatgrass, he brought from his wife.

After I arrived back home from the Surfside Sunshine Market, I watched Yasmin’s video about how to correctly put in one of her hair clips, and I believe I have mastered it.

Debbie Flessner writes the Live Like a Tourist column for the Sun newspapers. You may contact her at dj@flessner.net.

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