Immokalee is located in Southwest Florida, it’s just outside of Naples, and a stones throw from Tom Monaghan’s “Catholic Town” and “Ave Maria University”. The main draw to Immokalee is its Seminole Casino, the closest Casino to be had unless you continue east towards Miami or head out into the Gulf of Mexico on a Casino cruise. If you’re not a gambler, Lake Trafford is worth a trip as well; a beautiful, large, fresh water lake filled to the brim with Brim, Crappy, Catfish and Tilapia. Surrounding the lake you will see Great Blue Herons, Egrets and alligators to name just a few. There are airboat tours for the adventurous, a beautiful pier for fishing and quaint park for picnicking. Best of all, no admission charge! For me though, the draw is the farmers market, a much better return on your dollar than a slot machine and no fear of getting gobbled up by an alligator as you walk the shoreline admiring Florida’s colorful wildlife.
The farmers market offers an abundance of fresh quality produce that is both locally grown and imported; it’s all available for a fraction of the cost you will pay locally at super centers or chain grocery stores. The vendors are mostly of Hispanic descent; English is the 2nd language here. If you Habla Espanol, you will feel right at home, if not, most vendors do speak English to varying degrees so don’t let that keep you away. For people watchers, an eclectic mix of people abound. You will see weather worn workers unloading semi trucks filled with freshly picked produce. Fellow shoppers mingle with bargain hunters sharing their finds of the day. Poor families stretching their dollar to the max are making back door deals for older produce while the illegal aliens are trying to get by without getting caught; there is much to take in.
The Vendors when engaged are kind and friendly, they truly do appreciate your business and welcome a genuine smile and handshake from a Gringo, which goes a long way here, as does a simple thank you. Haggling for the most part is frowned upon, not that you can’t ask for a better price but if you do so be considerate as most vendors have the same set price and profit margins are very low.
Be adventurous, get out and find your own little farmers market. The quality of the produce is usually far superior to what you will normally find in a supermarket, the cost is more often than not less, the icing on the cake is you get to help support a local economy and struggling farmers. It’s a win-win for everyone except the owners of the mega grocery stores. They do employ a lot of people but it still doesn’t break my heart, the last Mango I purchased at my local grocery store was two dollars; it looked good but had no flavor and the consistency of rubbery celery. Don’t get me started on the Tomatoes.