By KEVIN BRADY
Special to The Observer News
The first market of the season is slated for this weekend in Balm from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Good Samaritan Mission, 14920 Balm Wimauma Road.
Free coffee and donuts will be served from 10 to 11 a.m. at the market, which will feature at least 15 vendors offering everything from handmade jams and jewelry to locally grown produce.
“It’s a venue where our students can take the products they have developed, and grow their own business,” said Theresa Cruz, director of Good Samaritan’s Seeds of Change, an incentivized learning program. “It gives them an opportunity to test market their cottage industry products as they earn income.”
The market and craft fair will be held on the first Saturday of the month through next spring and is expected to draw 300 to 400 visitors. The event will also feature music and children’s games.
Home crafters, small produce growers and small food produce makers are all welcome to sell their wares at the event. Vendor tables are $25.
The Mission is also looking for plant donations, which must be potted. Herbs are preferred, but others will be accepted. Plants can be dropped off on the back porch during GSM operating hours.
Good Samaritan is also looking for garden volunteers for the Mission garden one to eight hours a week. People are needed to water, plant seeds, keep order in and around the greenhouse, repot seedlings into bigger pots, pick produce, prune plants and help at local plant sales and with farmers to help raise funds for Good Samaritan Mission.
The market benefits Good Samaritan, which has been helping the poor of South County since 1985. The Mission emphasizes education with students earning tokens by taking classes on the 10-acre campus in Wimauma. Tokens are redeemed in the Mission pantry with each token earning a student the right to an empty shopping bag they can fill with healthy food staples. The Mission hosted 2,354 hours of classes in 2015.
Students can also save their tokens to buy presents at the Mission’s Christmas Blessings event where poor families use tokens to buy children’s toys. Last year’s event benefitted more than 300 children. Dec. 6 is the deadline to drop off toys for this year’s event. Visit gsmission.org/news.html for a list of needed toys, or call Jennifer Daly at 813-634-7136.
For more information, or to volunteer at the Farmers Market, call the Mission at 813-634-7136. For more information about becoming a vendor, call Kevin Brady at 813-482-2026.
Visit gsmfarmersmarket.com for a complete packet of information on becoming a vendor and to download vendor sign-up forms.