Local Roots Farmers Market, the largest organizer and producer of farmers markets in Lee County, announces its 2017-18 schedule of markets while celebrating its 10th anniversary of bringing the widest and best variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, foods and more to residents and visitors of Southwest Florida.
Their 2017-2018 “Opening Day” schedule follows:
Sanibel Island Farmers Market: Sundays, Oct. 1 – May 27, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Sanibel City Hall, 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel
Lakes Park Farmers Market: Wednesdays, Oct. 4 – April 25, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Lakes Regional Park, 7300 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers
Coconut Point Farmers Market: Thursdays, Oct. 5 – April 26, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Panera parking lot, 23106 Fashion Drive, Estero
Bonita Springs Farmers Market: Saturdays, Oct. 7 – April 28, 8 a.m. – Noon, The Promenade at Bonita Bay, 26795 South Bay Drive, Bonita Springs
Fort Myers Beach Farm & Art Market: Tuesdays, Nov. 7 – April 24, 8 a.m. – Noon, Nervous Nellies’s Parking lot, 645 Old San Carlos BLVD, Fort Myers Beach
Captiva Island Farmers Market: Tuesdays, Dec.19 – April 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., South Seas Island Resort Entrance, 5400 South Seas Plantation Rd, Captiva Island
Boca Grande Farm & Fish Market: Fridays, Dec. 22 – April 27, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Boca Grande Ball Field, 305 Wheeler Road
Fenway South Farm & Flea Market: Mondays, January 8 – March 26, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Jet Blue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers
River District Farmers Market: Thursdays, All year, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Closed Thanksgiving (open Wednesday before), Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers
Local Roots Farmers Markets was founded and is operated by Lee County residents Jean Baer and Betsy Ventura, and the organization will be expanding to a record nine markets this upcoming season. “As we launch a new Farmers Market this year and bring our highest quality vendors to more of Southwest Florida, we’re excited to share the best produce, seafoods, meats, food items, art and more with our communities,” Jean Baer says.
The 2017-2018 season also marks the 10th anniversary of Local Roots Farmers Markets. “From humble beginnings, we’re honored to have seen our concept of bringing the best vendors of fresh fruits, vegetables, foods and more to our area met with such enthusiasm,” Betsy Ventura says. “The Markets have become more than a health and wellness shopping experience, they’re almost a community event where friends gather each week. 10 years is a time to celebrate!”
Nowadays you can’t help but grin as you pass The Children’s Education Center of the Islands, the popular preschool affectionately known as “CECI,” located right around the corner from Ocean’s Reach.
The little ones, with the help of their teachers, put together a sign of gratitude that reflects the thankfulness we all share.
When Irma first hit, her sheer size and strength had us dreading that we would be without utilities for a long time, as more than two-thirds of the entire state of Florida was left without power.
We have been amazed and so incredibly appreciative of the help that has poured in from crews across the nation, who worked non-stop around the clock and had much of the island up and running with water and electricity within a week. Vegetative clean-up work continues, but there’s no doubt that Sanibel will be back to its pre-storm beauty before we know it.
As the kids say: “Mind. Blown.” Thank You Power & Tree Guys!
Thanks to Captain Shawn Kelly (www.tarponsnookredfish.com) for taking us on this drive through Sanibel and Captiva islands.
His video was recorded just a week after Hurricane Irma passed by our area. It’s amazing to see how quickly the island community came together to clean up and restore our beautiful surroundings.
We couldn’t be more proud of everyone who’s worked so hard to make Sanibel “open for business” once again. Come down and join us again soon!
Sending you the warmest of greetings from everyone at Ocean’s Reach!
As many of you know, we re-opened our doors on September 19th, just as soon as we could after power was restored post-Irma. We were blessed to have had a relatively mild impact from the storm, and our hearts and prayers continue to go out to those who took the brunt of Irma’s wrath.
Thank you once again for the hundreds of well wishes you’ve sent our way. We took a small break from our daily blog as we’ve focused on getting back into full operation. The complex looks beautiful, the beaches look spectacular, and we’ve been busy rescheduling guests to come back to visit.
We wanted to share a visual update recorded right after the hurricane from one of our favorite people — Pam Rambo from “I Love Shelling” — who, as always, makes us smile. We look forward to seeing you, too, on the beach!
Thank you for all of the well wishes you’ve sent our way as we continue to clean up after Hurricane Irma. We are so blessed to have had a relatively mild impact from the storm, and even more blessed to have received such wonderful support from so many of our guests through the years.
Ocean’s Reach plans to re-open on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, as we’re confident that power will be restored by then.
Our staff has been busy clearing the grounds and cleaning the units in preparation for re-opening. The buildings are fine. The beach looks great. In fact, “spectacular” was the word Andy used when describing it recently, noting that we have actually “gained” some beach from the storm.
So we’ll be rolling out the welcome mat once again in a matter of days and warmly invite you to come back and enjoy your favorite oceanfront destination soon.
Your beach chairs are waiting — Hope to see you soon!
Hurricane Irma has passed and Ocean’s Reach weathered the storm very well.
Andy had a chance to check the complex and reported that, aside from some debris and one downed tree, it appears that we “escaped the big bullet.” There has been no damage to the buildings and the beach for our section of the island looks fine.
Sanibel Island is currently without water and electricity, and authorities are working on fixing several downed power lines. As soon as utilities have been restored, we will be ready to re-open.
Many thanks to all those who expressed support and well wishes. We hope you will join us in expressing the same to the many communities who were dealt a harsher blow.
Tuesday, September 12th:
Monday, September 11th:
As Hurricane Irma moves closer to the State of Florida, Ocean’s Reach is diligently monitoring the storm, making necessary preparations and accommodating guests to the best of our ability.
We do not know what direct impacts the storm may have on Southwest Florida.
We will be suspending our daily blog until the middle of next week. In the meantime, please join us in sending prayers and heartfelt wishes to all who will be impacted by this catastrophic storm.
Painting by Sanibel artist Myra Roberts paying tribute to the actions of Robert Hilliard, whose letter pleading for humanitarian actions for displaced concentration camp survivors reached the desk of President Truman. The story made the front page of the New York Times.
We thank Brian Johnson and “Island Scene” magazine for another amazing story featuring one of our hometown heroes:
Robert Hilliard, a Sanibel resident since 1998, performed one of the finest humanitarian acts of World War II. His letter urging action to care for displaced concentration camp survivors made it to the desk of President Harry Truman and led to a change in U.S. Military Government policy that saved thousands of lives. The story made the front page of the New York Times.
Hilliard was born in New York City in1925 and was drafted in February, 1944 as the Allies planned an amphibious invasion of the shores of France. He heard reports of D-Day during advanced radio training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“All of us said we were sorry we missed it, that we should have been there, but we were also relieved,” said Hilliard during a lunch interview at Thistle Lodge Restaurant on Sanibel. “When you are 18 you think you are tough, but at the same time you are scared to death.”
In November he and his buddies boarded the Queen Mary, a ship fast enough to outrace German U-Boats. The somber and seasick Atlantic crossing brightened when they landed in Scotland and took the train to Southampton. The soldiers gaily sang “Mairzy Doats” to the quizzical stares of the Brits as they marched to the pier. (The 1944 song by the Pied Pipers can be heard on Youtube.com). They embarked from their troop ship in La Havre, France, now secure in Allied hands.
He was assigned to the Second Infantry Division and became a forward observer in the Ninth Regiment, responsible for moving in advance of his unit to determine the whereabouts of the enemy. He had taken specialized radio training at Fort Benning, but the immediate needs of the war effort took precedence over all else and his expertise in morse code idled.
The ground was frozen and Hilliard was often out in the open, dodging mortars lobbed by the Germans. Within a month he was hit in the leg and sent back to an aid station. “All kinds of interesting things happened as we moved though France, Belgium and German,” he said.
He found himself in the Battle of the Bulge, known at first as The Breakthrough. Hitler launched his final major counterattack of the war through the forests of the Ardennes on December 16, blowing a hole in the Allied line. “Everything was quiet, and the experienced outfits had pulled back for R&R, when the Germans attacked,” said Hilliard.
The Americans bore the brunt of the surprise offensive, which led to the most U.S. causalities of any operation during the war. “No amount of training prepares you for the real thing, but you learn to survive,” he said.
The Americans fully halted the attack by January 25, 1945 and Hilliard and his unit resumed their pursuit of the German Army eastwards. The soldiers often took shelter in deserted barns during the frigid winter evenings. “One morning I woke up and there was a dead German solider right next to me!”
During this time period he witnessed the V-1 and V-2 rockets in which Hitler made massive investments in hopes of turning the tide of the war. “We were not far from Peenemünde, and we could see the rockets go up and then turn toward England. Once one of them fizzled and headed straight for us. We all ducked for cover, I jumped under a truck.”
In the spring of 1945 flak from the German 88mm gun exploded near Hilliard, injuring his face and sending him back to a field hospital once more. A case of severe frostbite added to his troubles. The doctors ordered a break from combat, and he was assigned to the Air Corps’ Second Air Disarmament Wing
Asked what he wanted to do, Hilliard replied, “I want to start a newspaper.” This request to provide news for the Allied troops ended up having unexpected and far reaching significance.
Given a lead by his Army friends about a music concert put on by recently liberated Jews at St. Ottilien Monastery, he jumped into his jeep and sped off to the town in Southwest Bavaria. When he arrived he heard the music of Mendelson and saw Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camp survivors, still in striped prison uniforms, wandering around the hospital grounds, lying on stretchers, emaciated.
“I sat there and I cried, I couldn’t help it, I saw the plight they were in,” recalled Hilliard. “There were no plans to deal with the survivors. They died by the thousands.”
Hilliard, his close friend Edward Herman and others bought food on the black market and provided as much as they could for the camp survivors at St. Otillien. “The American people did not know what was going on — if they did, they would have done something.”
Hilliard used the printing press for the newspaper to create about 800 copies of a long letter beseeching Americans at home to send supplies. He risked a court-martial by this action. Here is an excerpt of the momentous letter:
“At the hospital of St. Ottilien there are today 750 people including a staff of doctors…attempting to preserve the life they find it hard to believe they still have. Four months ago this same hospital was being used to care for German soldiers. At the same time there were thousands of Jews roaming Germany, sick, tortured, wounded, without food, clothing or help of any kind. One particular group was led by Dr. Zalman Grinberg. For months he has tried to obtain aid for these people. The Germans refused him. The local governments refused him… If they are to survive the coming winter they need shoes…they need sheets and blankets…medical supplies…the necessities of life…. and they are depending on you to get it for them. These surviving Jews of Europe want to live. The fact that five children have already been born at St. Ottilien is proof enough.”
Copies of the letter made it to the U.S. and stirred indignation and calls for action. “Not long afterwards a full Colonel came looking for me and Ed Herman,” said Hilliard. “He said General Eisenhower sent him to tell us not to send out any more letters or he would assign us to the Aleutian Islands near Alaska. That night we sent off more letters, realizing that a higher official must have criticized Eisenhower for allowing concentration camp survivors to die. The front page headline in the New York Times and other newspapers on September 30, 1945, proved us right. It read “President Orders Eisenhower to End New Abuse of Jews . . . Likens Our Treatment to that of the Nazis.”
Over the years, since his return from Europe, Hilliard toured all five continents giving talks on the subject. He wrote a memoir, available at Amazon, entitled “Surviving the Americans: The Continued Struggle of the Jews After Liberation.” There is also a film about his heroic actions – “Displaced! A Miracle at St. Ottilien.”
Here in Southwest Florida he has given talks at BIG ARTS, Sydney Berne Davis Center, and Hodges University, among others. Sanibel artist Myra Roberts recreated the New York Times article in an original oil painting, and the two often give presentations about the Holocaust and its aftermath together.
“World War II was a very necessary war,” said Hilliard. “There‘s no such thing as a good war, and few necessary wars…the key point from my experience was that when you see something wrong, or something evil…you can change the world if you are willing to try.”