110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Meet the farmers of DeLand's Local and Organic Farmers Market
Market open every Friday 6-9 p.m. on Artisan Alley, just off 100 block of West New York Avenue
posted May 16, 2013 - 3:26:05pm
They sell lettuce and blueberries, tomatoes and eggs — carefully nurtured gifts of nature. They haul their fragile and edible merchandise for miles, and set it up in baskets and bins, protecting it from sun and wind, and hoping they don't have to haul it home again.
They are the farmers of our local farmers markets, in DeLand, DeBary, Lake Helen, Orange City and Barberville.
They toil, create and experiment on small farms or in their own backyards, then market and sell their goods, as well as growing them.
"It's fun," Ed Corcoran said. "And, it's successful."
He and his wife, Linda, sell plants, vegetables, herbs and meat produced on 10 acres near Haw Creek.
The Corcorans are among local farmers who are growing West Volusia's newest market: the Local and Organic Farmers Market, which takes place 6-9 p.m. every Friday on Artisan Alley in Downtown DeLand.
The market is conveniently located for chef Mel Perryman, whose restaurant, Dally in the Alley, is also on the Downtown DeLand alley. She and other employees of the restaurant are often seen at the Friday-evening market.
"We love going out there Friday night, right before serving starts, and seeing what they have and what we can add to the night's menu," Perryman said. "I wish they were there every day."
Perryman especially likes dressing up Dally's plates with Nize Nylen's colorful and edible flowers from the Artisan Alley market.
The market's founders are committed to offering only items grown locally. Merchandise must be produced within a 100-mile radius of the Friday-evening market.
Now in its second month, the Artisan Alley market has attracted a loyal following of shoppers who appreciate meeting the people who actually grow the food.
"People don't want to be confused," farmer Pauline Copello said. "They ask me, 'Did you grow all this?'"
Some of the growers who supply the Artisan Alley market started out cultivating food for their families, but soon found they had an oversupply. Such was the case with the Corcorans' canned goods, which Linda Corcoran makes using vegetables and spices grown at home.
"If you have a 4-acre vegetable garden and you have an abundance of cucumbers and okra, you have a pickle business, whether you like it or not," her husband, Ed, said, smiling.
We asked the growers of the Artisan Alley market how they became part of the farm-to-table movement that's sweeping the nation.
Ed and Linda Corcoran
The Corcorans, transplanted from New England 20 years ago, do their growing on 10 acres about eight miles west of Bunnell in the Haw Creek area. There are 6 more undeveloped acres on the couple's property.
They have cattle, chickens, herbs and vegetables, and Linda Corcoran makes pickles and other canned goods using the herbs and vegetables they grow.
"I grow anything that will grow," Ed Corcoran said.
Ed Corcoran also has a landscaping business, which he works at full time. The business takes him to Palm Coast from about 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Late afternoons and evenings are for the garden.
Linda Corcoran especially enjoys working with people at the Artisan Alley Local and Organic Farmers Market, the Barberville Family Farm Swap and Market, and other markets where they sell the excess from their farming "hobby."
Colley, who traces his roots to the Scottish Highlands, is a jewelry artist who spent 48 years in heavy construction, starting when he was 16. He once was the site manager for a power plant.
On Friday evenings these days, you'll often find Colley unloading fresh bunches of kale, Swiss chard or dandelion greens at the Artisan Alley farmers market.
"I've always had a garden for some reason," Colley said. "It goes back to when I was 9."
Colley lived with his mother then in West Virginia. A neighbor lent them an acre of his land so they could grow food for themselves.
"That fed my mom and I for two years. I was impressed by that," Colley said.
The neighbor taught Colley how to plant and grow.
"It sort of stuck to me. I've always had a piece of garden somewhere," he said.
Colley does his gardening these days at Bamboo Arts Center in DeLeon Springs, a nonprofit center devoted to self-discovery and sustainable living.
The center maintains a large garden, and sells $15 buckets of food to visitors on the honor system — visit the site on Cave Lake Road, fill your bucket with food, and leave your $15 in the cash box.
Colley, who lives in DeLand, brings some of the Bamboo Arts Center's garden bounty to the Friday-evening market.
"I'm just one of the many gardeners that's come through there," he says of the nonprofit center.
Jim and Aida McCuen of Deltona are the mother-and-son team that make up DeVyne DeLytes, which brings fresh salsa and gourmet baked goods to the Artisan Alley farmers market.
Jim McCuen, who has a native-plant nursery on 12 acres in Osteen, turned to rural pursuits after his fourth heart attack. He had owned several small businesses, including a fitness center and a medical-billing service, and longed for relief from the bustle of life in Downtown Orlando.
"I have always been interested in food, so I decided to pursue that, in a concrete fashion," Jim McCuen said.
His mother, a native of Mexico, had a background in catering and demonstrating ethnic cooking. A widow, she now lives near her son on a Deltona lake.
Jim McCuen became a certified master naturalist through a program offered by the University of Florida, and now publishes a newsletter about native Florida wildlife and plants. He is president of the Lyonia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.
Benoit brings to the Artisan Alley market soaps, creams and salves she makes in her kitchen in Deltona. It's a long way from her deployment to Washington, D.C., as a radar operator with the Florida National Guard, about a decade ago.
The soap business began as an effort to help a family member who suffered with eczema.
"Even stuff from the dermatologist didn't work," Benoit said.
She and her husband were taking a small-business class through Kaplan University, and they had to do a project that involved setting up a small business. Ligia Benoit used the bath-product manufacturing that had become a hobby.
After reviewing her class assignment, Benoit's instructor suggested she try the business for real, and she took the advice.
So far, so good.
"I absolutely love it. My hope is to open up a boutique and have my own brick-and-mortar store," she said.
Benoit met her husband, Aaron, while they were both in the military. They moved to Deltona to be near his family.
Aaron Benoit stayed on with the U.S. Navy, and works as an operations manager. The Benoits are parents of a 2-year-old, and are expecting their second child.
Mike's Home Grown Farm
Michael Malloy was selling Harley-Davidsons for Bruce Rossmeyer when the economy turned south, taking with it Malloy's income and job security.
"I just decided I needed to do something so that I wasn't entirely dependent on the outside world," Malloy said.
Growing the family's food seemed like a good start. Malloy and his wife, who works full time in a convenience store, have two children.
Michael Malloy investigated hydroponics, enrolled in a three-day course in Live Oak offered by the University of Florida, and attended some small-farm conferences.
Now he grows lettuces, spinach, tomatoes, mint, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and more on a 1-acre hydroponic farm in Bunnell. With hydroponics, he said, he can grow as much food on 1 acre as a soil-farmer can grow on 5.
"Anything that grows in the dirt I can grow hydroponically," Malloy said.
He and his son bring a variety of produce each week to Artisan Alley, and Malloy maintains a Facebook page for the Downtown DeLand market.
Malloy is expanding his farm to include meat birds, eggs and pigs, to further the family's independence.
"So, I won't be buying pork anymore," he said. "Within the next year, I'll be basically growing my own food."
He now also does some consulting in hydroponics, and can set up systems for others.
Malloy has talked with AMVETS in Flagler County, and hopes to work with organizations like that one to find a way to share his knowledge of hydroponics in a way that can help veterans returning home from armed conflict.
Pauline's Lucky Market Garden
The name for her farm came to Pauline Copello in a dream. And, to many caught up in chaotic urban lifestyles, Copello's life might, indeed, seem dreamlike.
For nearly 11 years, she and her husband, Joel Copello, along with their son, Anthony, have been growing a wide variety of specialty greens and other vegetables and fruits on their Barberville spread.
After working three seasons on an organic farm in Oregon, Pauline Copello had made her way to Daytona Beach in 1980, where her father had been transferred by his employer.
"At that time in my life, I wasn't sure what I was going to do," Pauline Copello said.
She began farming in her way-too-small backyard, and sold her crops to gourmet restaurants, including La Crepe en Haut.
Joel and Pauline Copello met at a market. He was there selling antiques; she was selling roses. Pauline Copello described herself as a "born entrepreneur." Together, the couple decided to pursue a living as organic farmers.
They relocated to 13.5 acres in Northwest Volusia. Much of the land is zoned Resource Corridor, and is protected from development.
They currently have just 1 acre under cultivation, but manage to produce everything from arugula and red romaine to melons and heirloom winter squash, cucumbers and beans, in quantities large enough to supply their customers at several farm markets, including the Friday-night market on Artisan Alley.
Pauline Copello's interests include sustainable practices, and she is seeking an alternative to plastic bags for packaging vegetables for customers. At one Artisan Alley market, she brought simple grocery bags she had sewn from T-shirts, and gave them away free to customers.
Planted Earth Vegetables
Eating homegrown food comes naturally to Nize Nylen, who grew up in Brazil, where her family grew and ate food they also produced.
She and her husband, Stetson professor Bill Nylen, have lived in DeLand for about 22 years, and in a house on East Kentucky Avenue for about 12 years. The home is on approximately 12 acres.
Several years ago, Nize Nylen began planting food, and before long, she was filling orders for her husband's co-workers at Stetson University. The farming operation became Planted Earth Vegetables.
Nize Nylen is one of the organizers who got the Artisan Alley farmers market started.
In addition to staples such as lettuces, kale and collard greens, she grows herbs and other specialty crops she remembers from her childhood, along with edible flowers.
At the Artisan Alley market, she is often offering samples of some exotic taste shoppers have never heard of, along with a line of pestos and, sometimes, plants.
Nize Nylen enjoys the camaraderie of meeting with other growers at the weekly market, and sharing ideas to foster local and organic farming — and eating.
"We work as a community," she said.
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