CORAL SPRINGS, FL – John Pitts, known as “Doctor Pickle,” kept the one-liners coming Sunday morning from his stand at the city’s Farmers’ Market.
“I get paid by the toothpick,” he said, stretching out a toothpick topped with a homemade sour pickle to a passing customer. “We’re not window shopping here.”
The woman stopped, tried the pickle, and her face, well, it turned sour, even though she liked it.
“If it’s too hot, we sell water for $10,” Pitts said, joking.
So went the routine at the market which aims to promote small businesses to local residents.
Close to 40 small shop owners hawked their products to more than 500 residents passing through the market. Some shoppers stopped to buy everything from gourmet soups and sauces to homemade jewelry and pet products, while others strolled the grounds chatting with neighbors and sipping coffee on a breezy, picture-perfect morning.
“Our market is here to create community involvement,” said Colleen Sullivan, the market manager. “We have a lot of entrepreneurs that come from a tri-county area that have artisanal products that they want to bring to market but it’s too tough to get into grocery stores and stores in general. So they come here to this market to promote themselves and their products. It’s really important.”
Pitts has come to the market since it opened in 2015.
A retired firefighter from New York City, he sells 18 varieties of pickles to businesses across the region and relies on the market to build a grassroots fan base for his products. He learned to make pickles by experimenting with flavors during his days at firehouses when he cooked and put pickles in eggs, chips and other foods. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he started a charity to raise money for children suffering from PTSD and uses some proceeds from his pickle business to fund it.
“The pickle industry has been good to me, but you’re only as good as your last pickle,” he said.
Just a few feet away, Eldridge Rolle was selling produce. He drove in with his son, Jamel, from Naples hours earlier with enough strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and dozens of other produce to fill nine tables stretched across the center of the market.
“Get your fresh produce. We have six for $20,” he shouted, touting dozens of buckets of produce which he purchased a day earlier in Immokalee directly from farmers.
This is Rolle’s second year at the market, and he’s the only produce seller. He wants to be known for good prices and freshness.
“See this dirt?” he said, showing a cucumber with a dusting of brown across the middle. “That’s freshness.”
Rolle then turned his attention to a couple ready to surrender a few dollars for strawberries, which are usually the big sellers.
“I’m happy to be here. Produce is a good market,” he said.
Now in its fourth year, the Coral Springs Farmers’ Market runs Sundays from 9:30 am – 2 p.m. January 12 to March 29 across from City Hall at 9551 West Sample Road.
Learn more about the market here.