It's no secret that I am partial to my Florida hometown of Winter Garden. Sure, while I was growing up in Valencia Shores in the late 80's and 90's, Winter Garden wasn't exactly a destination for people in outlying communities, but it had warmth, community and security. I could walk home from school without my parents worrying to much about any abductions and we rarely had the door locked except for overnight. Sure we had crazy "Walking Willy" a shirtless man seen all over town walking at rapid speed and often yelling at no one, but he was harmless, or at least we told ourselves. Despite the downtown offerings being limited to a Cumberland Farms, a thrift shop, Mr. Wong's Chinese and Tony's Liquors we still loved the humble "our town" vibe.
We thought we were big time when the West Orange Trail was developed and we saw Downtown Brown's open on Plant Street. Many a celebratory ice cream cone was had.
I can't help but smile a cheesy grin seeing how it has grown in the past decade, and a part of me wishes my parents hadn't sold our beloved home on Valencia Shores Drive. Gone is the old Dillard Elementary school, for an upgraded version sans the "Big Equipment" only fourth and fifth graders were allowed to play on. Gone are the less than plush carpeted circular maze-like walls in West Orange High. If we have asbestos we are better people for it! These kids don't know just how good they have it.
Possibly the most exciting development comes in the form of a community market off of Plant Street, of the same name.
Thanks to my handy Instagram prowling I saw one of the vendors post that the market was open for business, so I quickly ventured over to my childhood stomping ground once titled by some "Winter Garbage".
Not much unlike East End Market, Plant Street Market boasts over a dozen vendors selling their handmade & locally crafted goods. Perhaps even more appealing than East End for the mere fact that there is a lot of diversity in the vendors not to mention more space for milling about without anxiety induced claustrophobia.
Here is a brief summary of some of the vendors I was able to patron today.
I've been following The Wandering Wonton on Instagram with much wet-tongued anticipation and owner Sara's wontons did not disappoint!
Her "Where the Buffalo Roam" wonton was so packed with flavor and just a hint of spice. I instantly regretted only getting three. Not to mention these wontons are a bargain at 3 for $2! Sara couldn't have been more adorable when after consuming my wontons I went back to find her to tell her they were indeed life changing and she gave me a huge hug. I can't wait to see what else she has in store.
I was foolish to think that this was simply a food and beverage field trip to the WG. I immediately was drawn to the handmade jewelry that Woodstone had to offer. The sweetest woman and owner greeted me and explained how she handmade every item, and her mother did the painting on porcelain items.
So many things caught my eye, but I couldn't leave without buying my own Tibetan leather cuffs. Each adorned with simple hardware complimented by different colored leather straps to add a nice pop. This was arm candy I could get behind.
The name explains what this vendor is all about. Everything they sell is made in the USA, and they had quite an assortment of adorable stationary, drinking kits, tumblers, and clothing.
If you are looking for unique gifts for young and old, stop by and check out their offerings. I helped myself to some adorable Florida coasters.
If you are a lover of fragrances, but tend to keep your distance from most chemically enhanced smells because they trigger allergic reactions and headaches, fear no longer.
Collective Kindness hand pours premium soy wax candles, with cotton wicks and premium fragrance oils in vintage, antique, and recycled modern containers. Owner Leah along with her mother Liz work as a team to bring us great combinations of aromas in containers that can be reused. Once your candle has seen it's last flame, bring you container back and they will hand pour you another candle within a week and you get it at a discounted rate.
There were so many scents to choose from, but I went with a combination of 3 for $30; Lavender Luxury, Dragon's Blood & Cucumber Mint. This is a definite treat yourself spot.
As much as I love coffee, I drink tea almost every night at home. I was pleased to see an adorable area all dedicated to hot and iced teas. It's no surprise that one of the owners has a background in interior design, because this may have been one of the most aesthetically pleasing spots in the market.
The duo, one from Canada and one with Northeastern roots, just recently moved to Florida months ago and they want to bring their delicious herbal concoctions to the hot and thirsty patrons. Being so new to Florida, welcome them to the Sunshine State and keep yourself hydrated here in the upcoming disrespectful heat we will soon be experiencing.
I got an iced pina colada tea and it needed no extra tampering, it was refreshing and delicious just as it was. Not to mention a very generous cup size for the price.
Positioned right across from Antiquiteas is a Winter Garden favorite, Axum coffee. As I waited for my tea to brew I couldn't help but apologize to the Axum roaster for not wanting to purchase coffee since I had already had one earlier in the day. He smiled and graciously offered me a sample. I decided to engage his kindness and inquire about different roasts that may not be as acidic and harsh on my stomach and he was a wealth of coffee bean wisdom. Coffee will be roasted on site, so go soak in the delightful aromas.
Great name and gorgeous flowers. Petal Pushers has been doing event planning for the past five years, and they plan on continuing to have a hand in the events that are being booked at the market.
After gazing at the sunflowers and calla lilies I spotted some succulents planted in hang-able tear drop shapes vases, better known as air plants, so I had to get one for my kitchen.
Along with the above mentioned spaces was also The Cookery which was open with spreads, sauces, dressings, and oils and spices.
There were a few vendors I did not purchase from like David Ramirez chocolates, although I did stop to drool for a moment at the assortment of macaroons.
There also appeared to be juice and wrap counter, although I could not identify the name of their business. I can't wait to go back and explore their offerings.
Even Canine's are getting some love with a business dedicated to treating your pet to the finer things in life to keep them healthy & clean.
If you need to relax and recharge I did notice a small oxygen bar as well as a chair massage area.
The market is not quite finished with other vendors finalizing their spaces. The Pop Parlour was open for business but their area was not quite finished yet. A butcher, baker, a wine bar, and a small restaurant are still in the works all steps from the already open Crooked Can Brewery.
The Grand Opening date is slated for May 9th, but I would suggest not waiting and visiting in the soft opening before the crowds gather.
What I enjoyed the most as I leisurely strolled the aisle and spent time talking to these entrepreneurs was that they were all so warm, inviting and thankful for those taking interest in what their passion is. I can't imagine how scary it would be to leave the comfort of corporate jobs with a steady pay check you can count on and leave it all behind to dive into the unknown potential mind field of owning and running your own business. So support these risk takers and taste makers and show them some local love.
"Winter Garbage" we are no more. Time to step up your game Ocoee!