Coconut Grove Organic Market eliminates 20% of market space

Located on the corner of Grand Avenue and Margaret Street, the Coconut Grove Organic Market has been a Grove staple every Saturday since 1977 and has helped dozens of local vendors get their businesses started. From organic produce and homemade pesto to raw honey and handmade garments, this year-round farmers market is dedicated to three things: good health, good vibes and community unification. 

But two weeks ago Glaser Organic Farms, which organizes the market, had to cut 30 of the 115 vendors  – at least temporarily –  to make room for a new condo project next door, according to Marco Olmo, a long-time Glaser employee. The market also lost most of its parking space.

“This takes away an opportunity for local vendors to sell their products,” said Olmo. “It sucks!” 

For nearly 50 years, the market has supplied organic produce, vegan food options, dog treats, home-made clothing, jewelry and more for visitors and residents of the Grove. It also has a reputation of bringing together people who share a fondness for healthy eating and supporting small local businesses.

Groundbreaking of the 20% area behind the Coconut Grove Farmers Market. (Keilyn Quintero/Caplin News)

On June 7, developers Silver Bluff and Abbhi Capital broke ground for a new condo/retail space on part of the site that the market has long inhabited. This required elimination of 20 percent of the market’s space.

With an expected completion date of 2024, the condo – Elemi at Grove Village – will be a five-story complex including 46 apartments and ground-level retail space. Condos will range from 965 square feet one-bedrooms to 1,535 square feet three-bedroom units.

According to the South Florida Business Journal, Grant Savage, founder of Silver Bluff, said the goal is to honor the history of the Grove. 

“We love Coconut Grove,” said Savage. “We want to share our passion for this place with everyone while making it a better place for our neighbors.”

Christopher von Dahm and the variety of his Liquid Gold Raw Honey. (Samaria Clair/Caplin News) 

In the meantime, most vendors stay positive. 

Christopher von Dahm, 46, owner of Liquid Gold Raw Honey, commutes from West Palm Beach to set up his tents and give out raw honey samples. He began coming to the market sporadically in 2014 and has been there every single Saturday since 2020.

His bee hives are located off small dirt roads and are completely integrated with nature. Although he has some hives at his home, most are located in other parts of Florida near different flowers to get different honey and pollen varieties. He offers a wide range of flavors like avocado, blackberry, buckwheat and even chocolate. 

As he describe this, he picks up two toy bees and speaks in a high-pitched cartoonish voice about his honey and the market’s good vibes.

“You come here and you feel like you’re on vacation, because there’s no place like it on Earth,” said von Dahm. “It’s a very special, loving environment.”

Von Dahm isn’t the only person to mention the market’s positive energy and good vibes.

Jillian Herrera, 23, a customer who commutes all the way from Doral, mentions that there’s an uplifting aura to the people who go, visitors and vendors alike. 

“My parents met in Coconut Grove, so it’s always been a special area for my family,” said Herrera.

However, she worries that even more space will be lost to the market. 

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen the area almost die out entirely, and recent property developments surrounding the market worry us,” said Herrera. “Will we be able to continue coming here two years from now? Five years? 10 years? Everything is so uncertain so we try to come as often as possible.”

According to Glaser, there’s nothing the farm can do to work a deal with the developers at this point. Since the lot is rented for the market, ultimately the landowners decide what happens to it. 

“There’s no way we could buy it or generate enough capital,” said Stan Glaser. “We’re just there really by grace.”

This story was produced by Caplin News students in conjunction with the Coconut Grove Spotlight.

Keilyn Quintero is a senior majoring in digital communications and media with a track in digital journalism. After she graduates, she wishes to pursue a career as a music journalist.  

Samaria Clair is currently a senior and expects to graduate summer of 2023. Clair is majoring in Digital Media and Journalism. At Georgia State University, Clair was a news writer for the number one student’s school newspaper in the state of Georgia, The Signal. She currently serves as treasurer of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).