By Tiffany Merlo Phelps
Every Tuesday, the Palm Valley Community Center off Canal Boulevard comes alive with local vendors offering their homemade goods, a sense of community and a chance to support small businesses.
The New Palm Valley Market, now held indoors, had its grand opening on March 29 (a farmers market existed at this location prior to Covid, but the organizer of that market moved.)
“We are trying to revitalize the market that everyone loved in the past and make it even better,” said Dr. Leslie Taylor with New Day Soap, one of three organizers. “It was a group effort.”
Taylor said that she, Fred Cannon, and Lisa Struble responded to the community’s request for the market to return.
Cannon of Cannon’s Creek sells potted vegetables and herbs as well as bluebird houses, and Struble, a custom jewelry maker, owns LMS Jewelry. New Day Soap, LMS Jewelry, Ferra Bakery, and Serving Humanity Produce are present at every market. In addition, different local vendors will rotate each week, offering candy, tea, honey, flowers, all-natural dog treats, peanut butter and much more.
“I do love this market because it is a great way for the community to get to know one another while providing jobs for the vendors locally,” said Taylor. “We feel good about offering something special for the neighbors.”
Taylor and her husband, both retired dentists from Virginia, make their soap using only cold-pressed oils in a variety of scents and designs.
Produce vendor Kafil Tunsill said he loves to make healthy food available to everyone and sees that role as his way of serving others. It is one of the driving reasons he created his business, and it is also what brings him and his wife, Monique, to the market every week.
“I love to provide fresh produce at an affordable price,” said Tunsill, who offers seasonal produce fresh from the field. “I don’t like for anyone to rely on a big corporation and have to pay a higher price due to overhead costs.”
Ferra Bakery owner Rudy Ferra said he bakes most of his items the morning of the market so that breads, turnovers, cookies, calzones, and other treats arrive warm. Ferra began working in the bakery business with his mom in 1998, but took over about six years ago after his mom retired. The Jacksonville-based bakery was once known as Maria’s Bakery.
Ferra said that he is trying to build up his business at the Palm Valley Market, so that it is feasible for his employees to work the market every week. He closely watches which items are most popular, and that determines what will be available each week. Ferra brings his baked goods to five different markets each week.
“This is an opportunity to get bakery fresh items made with the best ingredients right in your backyard,” said Ferra, who is from Albania. “I look forward to serving the Palm Valley community.”
Eventually, Taylor said the team would like to see more booths set up outside behind the community center and for the market to expand.
Vendor Heidi Foran, owner of The Flower Fool, said this market is the only one she works because it is the perfect spot to share her custom wreaths and florals.
“I love to shop local and support local,” said Foran, who has a home studio in Nocatee that is open to clients. “Most of all, I love people.”
Taylor said each week brings something new, and that is what makes the market so unique.
“Many weeks we have local honey, free-range eggs and selections from local artists. Sometimes we have a custom furniture maker along with a variety of vendors offering gourmet treats,” said Taylor. “That is the beauty of a local market.”
[Author’s Note: The New Palm Valley Market is open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. Interested vendors should email info@NewDaySoap.com.]
Photo courtesy Tiffany Merlo Phelps
Heidi Foran with The Flower Fool.