The stars just never seemed to line up properly for Harvest Time Market, the farmers-market, u-pick and prepared foods retailer at the corner of Hypoluxo Road and Military Trail in Lantana, which has finally closed after a year of growing popularity but seemingly endless problems.
The final nail in the market’s coffin wasn’t a loss of business, nor the crashing local economy, equipment troubles and drastic management shake-up not long after opening. It was code enforcement, which focused primarily on the market’s signage and its selling of prepared foods, two crucial elements in its operations. With he former greatly reduced and the latter banned, there was no choice but to shut the place down.
Harvest Time opened in January of last year with fairly grandiose plans, which included everything from an on-site juice bottling business and in-house bakery to a garden supplying specialty products to high-end restaurants and a mini-petting zoo for the kiddies. Those plans didn’t last long, nor did most of the management team that proposed them.
But the market managed to land on its feet, offering locally grown fruits and veggies at prices far below the major supermarkets, along with fresh-bottled citrus juices, weekend barbecue and superlative pies from baker Josie Garcia. In December, though, code enforcement struck, and it was all downhill from there.
As a homeowner here in Palm Beach County, I can appreciate the need to have and enforce city and county zoning codes. I don’t want a toxic waste dump going into my neighborhood (or a youth hostel, which some clowns tried briefly to set up next door).
But to essentially drive out a thriving, popular and much-needed business, without any attempt to make the rules more reasonable, well, that’s just wrong. And dumb and short-sighted too. I think most of us would much rather see a business like Harvest Time in our town than another chain restaurant or coffee shop or retail store. It’s a bitter harvest, this one.