The Markets of Hemming Park

The Green Market & Jaxons Night Market Bring Fresh Downtown

If you haven’t been to Hemming Park (formerly known as Hemming Plaza) for a few years, it’s a great time to discover the brand new vibe Friends of Hemming Park have brought to the space. Besides a calendar chock-full of new and exciting one-a-year events, they’re also building on existing events, such as Art Walk and Jaxsons Night Market, and they’ve helped to introduce a new GreenMarket in the last month.

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The GreenMarket at Hemming Park

Every Friday 3:30-6:30pm

The sound of acoustic guitar drifts over the park, as patrons sit and eat Korean food under a string of lights, their bags filled with locally crafted goods. The workday is over, but the sun hasn’t set on the park. This is the scene you might find at the GreenMarket at Hemming Park, new to the park last month.

Remembering that such a market existed every Friday years ago, Friends of Hemming Park wanted to revive the practice, albeit in an even better form. They approached Kurt D’Aurizio for his help and expertise in managing the market. Says Liz Grebe, the Events and Programming Director for Friends of Park: “Working with Kurt, we will be focusing on artisan and local produce for Downtown employees and residents.”

Kurt D’Aurizio is very much a part of Jacksonville’s community and food scene, as he has management positions in various organizations–he’s the Director of Events for Slow Food First Coast and he’s the Marketplace Manager for PorchFest. He’s also the Executive Chef at the Sulzbacher Center, where he has worked to increase the use of fresh produce, whole grains and the overall the nutrition and quality of meals there.

D’Aurizio was motivated to accept the project to create “a lively, vibrant weekly opportunity to shop, enjoy Hemming Park, see friends, meet new farmers and artisans, [and] support local growers and businesses.” But he also saw it as way to give the community “access to local, fresh, wholesome, nutritional foods, offering affordability though EBT/SNAP and the Fresh Access program (which provides matching funds for Florida-grown produce), and weekly education on healthy living.”

The market’s just getting started, but ultimately, says D’Aurizio, “I envision a complete, local shopping experience, with lots of produce direct from the farmer, of course, but also local craftsmen offering breads, pastries, eggs, dairy, humanely raised and hormone-free meats and poultry, local seafood, cheeses, pickles, handmade foods, plus plants, handmade soaps, and green businesses.”

Once they’ve built traffic to the market, they’ll be adding in educational components on healthy living, shopping on a budget, gardening, kids’ programs and cooking demos, with a focus on health and wellness.

Missing Event Data

Jaxsons Night Market at Hemming Park

3rd Thursday of Every Month 5:30-9pm

Mike Field started the Jaxsons Night Market just after One Spark last year, in an empty lot Downtown. Seeing the benefits that Art Walk has brought to the majority of downtown businesses, Field says that, “many downtown merchants have wanted Art Walk to expand to a second night every month. During One Spark, I felt that the time was right to create a second signature night for Downtown that differs in theme from Art Walk.” Field also sees it as a temporary solution to the lack of specialty retailers Downtown.

“You should be able to live Downtown and shop for locally grown produce, a dress and some jewelry for a girls’ night out, prepared foods, specialty soaps and shampoos, and be able to grab dinner and a cold beer while doing so. The market gives existing small business owners that have the capacity and willingness to expand a chance to test the demand for their product Downtown.”

As the neighborhood has gotten to know these retailers, Downtown has reaped the benefits, and not just with temporary market tents. “Since the market began,” says Field, “about a half dozen vendors have opened permanent storefronts and another half dozen are in the process of doing so. About half of those are doing so Downtown.”

“I try really hard to invite vendors who have a unique product that are also looking to expand their business,” says Field. “Many of our vendors are getting their very first market exposure at Jaxsons. If you want off-the-wall items like cheese curds, pierogies, handmade pastas or want to try all sorts of ethnic offerings like Korean food, Vietnamese food, Thai food, Indian food, Caribbean food or a plethora of vegan options, then Jaxsons Night Market is for you. It’s also the only place where you’ll find a collection of fashion trucks, and it’s the only market that features food trucks and a craft beer garden.”

Mike Field will be handing over the management of Jaxsons Night Market to Friends of Hemming Park this month.

“Friends of Hemming Park,” Field says, “has an incredibly talented staff that can allow the market to really thrive while simultaneously contributing to the revitalization of our town’s central public gathering space.” It will also free him up to better allow him to “start working with some of our vendors one-on-one and help them expand into permanent storefronts in the urban core.”

Liz Grebe, the Events and Programming Director for Friends of Hemming Park says that the organization is “excited to manage Jaxsons Night Market this year. Mike Field created a great event that brings thousands on a monthly basis to the Park. We’re looking forward to building off the momentum.”

According to Field, plans for Jaxsons Night Market this year include “the introduction of a monthly workshop series that will teach skills ranging from pickling and canning vegetables to apothecary. We’re also working on a cookbook that will be published in late fall.”

Get more information and schedules HERE.

About Erin Thursby

october, 2021

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