Farmers Market – East End Market, Orlando, Florida

We were grateful for a chance to visit the East End Market in Orlando. The market is located in the Audubon Park Garden District that was named a Great American Main Street by the National Main Street Center in 2016 — and factored prominently in that success.

Inside a diverse selection of food-based enterprises are on the main floor. Shops are diverse and varied from coffee, to wine and cheese, to bakers, and prepared food.

The circulation plan of these shops is L-shaped and leads to a semi-enclosed outdoor courtyard. A number of features here from the plantings, a #FoodWineUnite chalkboard wall with plantings affixed to it, and a sunshade — create a sort of urban oasis.

A number of stands made out of salvaged materials add a community building function to the site. We were particularly keen of a display shelf roughly 3 feet wide by 5 feet tall. The upright upper section is a corkboard made out of wine corks. There people can place posters about upcoming events. The lower level is a sort of literature rack. For the low cost of materials this was an ingenious addition to the courtyard.

Other furniture, also made from salvaged items provides space for small plantings to grow. We were struck by the ingenuity, creativity, and variety of structures designated for plantings.

On the second floor are a more shops and professional offices used by designers, non-profits, and others. For those who choose to locate here, clearly the market and the welcoming public spaces is a major draw.

The front of the site that could have easily been adapted for additional parking or had some generic landscaping, was transformed in to a working raised-bed urban garden. We were particularly impressed by the permanent fixed irrigation, the stepped design of the planter boxes, and interpretive signs to educate the public about the purpose of the garden.

Overall the East End Market is an enormous success and serves as an anchor for the Audubon Park Garden District. The co-location of multiple small businesses, a focus on food, and inspired reuse of an existing building — combine to bring new vitality to an exciting neighborhood.

As a brief postscript, the influence of the East End Market can be felt in other parts of the Audubon Park district. We were particularly struck by the garden stand made from salvaged items at The Owl’s Attic across the street and less than a block away. The wisdom of co-locating businesses is proven just a few blocks further away at The Lovely — a boutique market supporting a number of vendors.