Amid lines of hungry yogis and impatient foodies, you will find Kowinrollinis standing under a blue tent, machete in hand. A native of Trinidad, this raw-foods chef has been slicing coconuts on Grand Avenue for almost five years. With his hair tied back and his beard hiding a smile, he holds years of experience in the knife of his right hand. “I just cut coconuts for the people,” he says, “and make them happy when I do.”
Kowinrollinis is one of the many faces of the Coconut Grove Farmer’s Market, open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on 3300 Grand Ave.
Each weekend, this small space transforms from a gravel parking lot to a bustling market square, as local vendors sell their vegan and raw foods. During the peak hours of Miami’s heat, lines form under plastic tents, and meals are shared among friends. People embrace simplicity as they try to eat their way to optimal health.
Serving more than a thousand customers any given Saturday, Glaser Organic Farms has the biggest tent in the market. It sells a variety of locally processed, organic produce in long rows of ice-filled coolers and salad stands. Though the food is pricey, crowds wait to order vegan “sushi” rolls ($8.50), sprouted pizza ($8.50), dried goods, and a wide variety of raw desserts. They enjoy chocolate or vanilla cashew “ice cream,” made fresh on the farm every morning.
“I live close to the farm and know the people who prepare the food,” says one of Glaser’s employees. “I am a big customer of the market and proud of what it stands for. I appreciate the business for what it is: an organic farm dedicated to giving people nutritious food.”
Though Glaser attracts the largest crowd, smaller stands offer specialty items along the perimeter of the market. Among these eager vendors is Rafael, a New York chef who sells a natural umami burger with homemade vegan cheese ($8).
“Since Halloween of last year,” Rafael says, “I have come to Coconut Grove. I moved back to be with my mom and have been cooking vegan food even before then.” Now a chef at Plant Food + Wine, Rafael intends to master plant-based cuisine to someday open his own restaurant. “This is how you start,” he says, “and then you keep growing.”
Tom, from UnReal Food, has the same thought a few stands over. A father of three, he has used his house as a bakery for almost two years. Relying on the internet and books to create recipes of his own, he has made desserts for those with food allergies like himself and his children. Now he sells cookies ($1.75), cupcakes ($3.50), brownies (two for $5), and ice-cream sandwiches free of dairy and wheat. “I started this as a dad who wanted to make desserts for his kids,” Tom says, “but it's become more than that. At home, I have only two ovens and two refrigerators, but one day I’ll open a bakery of my own.”
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The Coconut Grove Farmers' Market is home to many vendors like Tom, Kowinrollinis, and Rafael, who use every Saturday as a platform to make their products known.
In one corner, you may find Nisha’s, who samples the finest flavors of India. And in another, you might see Ciabella, who makes sandwiches far better than your standard ham and cheese. This summer, visit this community that has formed right off Grand Avenue, and meet the local faces behind Miami's best vegan and raw food.