August 9, 2017

BRIAN BOWDEN/Free Press
Islamorada's Art on a Whim sell their hand-painted coral rock pieces at the market.

BRIAN BOWDEN/Free Press Islamorada's Art on a Whim sell their hand-painted coral rock pieces at the market.

ISLAMORADA — Jae and Andrea Jans are hoping to rejuvenate a part of Islamorada they say has been dormant for quite some time. The husband and wife held their second farmers market event on the southern end of Upper Matecumbe Key this past weekend. It attracted quite the crowd.

Officially called the Florida Keys Farmers Market, it’s located at 81001 Overseas Highway next to the Galleria of Islamorada plaza. It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Sunday.

“This part of town has been dead for some time,” Andrea told the Free Press. “We’re trying to revive it.”

Passersby would have a hard time missing the now large, colorful murals that adorn the walls of the two old buildings — one resembles a castle — on the roughly 2-acre property there. They were painted by Miami artist David Lavernia and would be right at home in Miami’s Wynwood Art District.

While the murals will get some to stop at the market for a quick glance or selfie, the ever-changing selection of food and wares by mostly local vendors may keep them coming back for more. Jae said 10 of the 15 or so vendors they started with are from the Keys.

One is Guedy Lara.

At the market’s first Sunday on July 30, Lara was whipping up homemade salsa and guacamole onsite using organic produce. She sells both in small take-home containers, perfect for any occasion. She also offers a variety of hand-squeezed juices.

Other finds one can come across at the market include artisanal cheeses and breads, Marathon-made fish dip, traditional fruit and produce as well as Keys specialties from Big Pine Key’s Grimal Grove, cold drinks, fresh flowers, handmade jewelry, a range of art, photography, candles, oils and more.

All of the vendors have a link to South Florida, Cuba or other Caribbean islands. And Andrea said their hope is to continually rotate and add new ones for those that return to the market.

At the July 30 market, live music was provided by artist Bone Lee, who also sells his homemade hot sauce there. An indoor yoga class was conducted as well. The music and yoga will return, but may not be there every Sunday.

Aside from the market, the property will eventually house Jae’s brewery (not the actual name), Andrea’s 24-hour health club (also, not the actual name) and a community garden. While the brewery is currently being pieced together, those at the Sunday market can still enjoy a cold beverage from a large selection of craft beers and a few of Jae’s homebrews.

“We’re trying to ultimately make this into something everyone can enjoy,” Jae said. “A lot of different things will be rolling out over the next year.”

To further add to the property’s character, the Jans are soon placing two large art sculptures there that are coming from New York. They will be part of the Florida Keys Sculpture Trail, which will begin in Islamorada and have stops all the way down to Key West.

Aside from their newest endeavor, Jae works as an information technology specialist. Andrea owns Islamorada Fitness on Plantation Key.

For more information on the market, visit floridakeysfarmersmarket.com or Facebook under the same name. New vendors can sign up via the website. Jae said they can host about 60 vendors.

bbowden@keysnews.com