Although there are myriad restaurants at Aventura Mall offering generic Latin cuisine, sweets and small plates — and you can even get a burger from the recently inaugurated Gastropod — wouldn’t it be great if you could get some organic grocery shopping done, too? Amidst the luxury leather goods, hordes of sneakers, and a lot of places to buy jeans, shoppers can garner a taste of something different.
To be clear, this isn’t a standard farmer’s market we’re talking about. No, it’s a handmade, organic reprieve from the hustle of of capitalism. One weekend a month, vendors set up shop on the mall’s first floor, just below the food court, selling everything from locally harvested varieties of honey, Hungarian pastries, sour sopp juice and coconut macaroons, as well as fresh flowers, organic soaps, and even some vegetables.
Johanne Cyr owns Girbaud bakery in Fort Lauderdale. “The previous owners, they retired. We took over. So we do Hungarian pastries, Romanian, French, and Creole,” she told us, explaining the spread of fresh baked goods on her tables. She comes out to the market every month, and pops up at Pembroke Lakes mall every weekend as well. Originally from Haiti, she infuses the eastern European sweets with local flavors like guava and dulce de leche. Mrs. Field’s, in plain view of the market, certainly isn’t offering sweets like this.
Next to Cyr is Vim Forstman, who owns Bee Land. Originally from Argentina, Forstman now calls Florida home, where he spends his time raising bees for their honey. “We have our bees in the area in between Okeechobee Lake and Key Largo,” he told us, talking about his origins as a beekeeper. “I’m a country guy. One day [as a child in Argentina], I discovered a swarm. My dad had no experience with bees. And he said, ‘Okay, let’s get them.’ And that was my first beehive.”
All of this is happening while shoppers are pushing show dogs around in strollers, and suitcases around full of new purchases. The juxtaposition alone is worth a visit.
Cyr and Forstman's are just two of the tales to be found amidst shoppers, vendors, tourists, and more. And although much larger markets can be found in places like Hollywood, just a few miles up US1, showing support for local initiatives embedded within the flashiness of Miami give local vendors a better chance at sticking around. The next market at Aventura Mall is set to take place on July 11 and 12, so mark your calendars now. Girbaud Bakery’s coconut cakes are already calling your name.
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