Creating Sustainable Lifestyles
It’s no secret that Florida is home to some of the most unique and beautiful native landscaping and habitats. From over 3,000 different types of wildflowers to its countless mangroves, the state, and more specifically Brevard County, can boast of its quality and diversity.
On the north end of Cocoa on US 1 is the home of The Green Marketplace, which is devoted to providing customers with native plants and ecological services to create their own sustainable “Florida Friendly” landscapes. Founded by Kari and Sam Ruder and Mary and Tim Hise, The Green Marketplace opened in November 2007 at its first location on Adamson Road in Cocoa. The Ruders take care of the nursery portion of the business, while the Hises run the hydroponic produce areas.
The Green Marketplace was born out of a combined desire to have a true local farm and garden market for the community. They all had participated in farmers’ markets that weren’t entirely local, and found it difficult to continuously haul around and set up plants and produce week after week. Through talking, they found that they wanted the same thing – a fixed structure where they could spend time focusing on growing and not setting up. They also wanted to show people where and how their food was grown along with the animals, like the chickens that produce the eggs with more of a true farm and nursery experience.
“Our philosophy is to provide and promote more sustainable living with locally grown food, native plants, appropriate edible plants and knowledge to ensure customers are successful and satisfied with their purchases,” said Kari Ruder. “We strive to create mutually beneficial working relationships with other local green businesses that enhance our mission and success.”
The ultimate goal of the marketplace is to give the community access to an urban farm that educates on local growing while providing a source of local food, plants and natural products. In the future, they also hope expand their offerings to provide more green products and services to the community.
On Feb. 28 and March 1, the company held an open house to celebrate their growing future. The event featured their spring heirloom vegetable plant sale, recycling information and activities, local food and wine sampling, farm animal encounters, grower/crafter demos and more. Throughout the year, they offer various services, including outreach, workshops, agritourism activities, native landscaping consultation and antioxidant health scans.
Not only do they educate the community through their services, but they also teach through example. Staying true to their “Green” name, they do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides on the farm or on plants they propagate, and employ rain cisterns to collect rainwater off the greenhouses for watering plants. If you visit The Green Marketplace, you’ll see many examples of reused items or upcycling. They encourage customers to bring their used nursery pots, mason jars, egg cartons and more, which they then clean and reuse. They even have a partnership with Recycle Brevard and serve as a drop-off site for items that can’t normally be recycled that are part of the Terracycle brigades they participate in. Eventually, the Marketplace hopes to incorporate solar energy into their production areas.
On the grounds, you will also find a hydroponic shade house, which provides an ideal growing area for young plants. The shade cloth reduces the amount of direct sunlight, which moderates temperature, as well as keeps out birds and animals that may dig in and knock over pots or otherwise damage plants. The hydroponic greenhouses are used to grow produce in a protected environment. Being able to provide this type of environment means that they are better able to control what comes in contact with the produce. The produce can be protected from insects and animals, minimizing the use of organic pest controls, as well as protected from environmental impurities such as over-sprays from neighbors, weed seeds or other contaminants.
Whether it be their signature crop of strawberries or array of heirloom vegetable plants, the mission of The Green Marketplace is to provide and promote more sustainable living with locally grown food, native plants, appropriate edible plants and knowledge to ensure customers are successful and satisfied with their purchases – every time.
Naturewise and The Green Marketplace
3910 N Cocoa Blvd, Cocoa, FL 32926