Hobe Sound Farmers Market reopens after battle with Martin County

HOBE SOUND — A dispute between a farm family and Martin County government officials shut down a farmers’ market for 10 months.

But last weekend, the Hobe Sound Farmers Market opened its barn doors and welcomed traders and shoppers for business.

“Vendors attend a variety of different farmers’ markets, but it’s nice to have a farmers’ market on a real farm,” said Zach Gazza, owner of the Hobe Sound outdoor market, which is open again on Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. pm, on the 126 acres at 1425 Southeast Bridge Rd. “We found our old suppliers and our old customers.”

Three years ago, the Gazzas purchased the acreage for their farming business, then later added the Farmers Market under the state designation for Agritourism, which allows farmers to generate a secondary source of income on their property.

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In early 2021, the Martin County Real Estate Appraiser’s Office, while conducting its annual assessment of the use of the property, concluded that the new barns built on the property were primarily used for the farmers’ market. , which would not be considered agricultural use and therefore removed agriculture. designation for the 7 acres used for the market.

Gazza said the barns were mainly used for growing hops.

Market Manager Beth Leonard (left) talks to vendor Emily Mauri, of JAR The Zero Waste Shop, during the Hobe Sound Farmers Market on Saturday March 6, 2021.

Last summer, Gazza filed a lawsuit against the Offices of the Real Estate Appraiser and the Tax Collector, as well as the Florida Department of Revenue, over the 2021 ruling. He asks the court to ask the county to reassess his property as being entirely agricultural and to refund the excess taxes that have been paid.

However, for 2022, the county has approved its entire property for agricultural use. This allowed Gazza to reopen the market on October 1.

“It was a beautiful day,” he said, describing it as akin to a “family reunion” in a Facebook post. “We had the support of the people of Hobe Sound and the rest of Martin County.”

The lawsuit, filed June 13 in Martin County, has not progressed through the court system. Both the real estate appraiser and the tax collector filed responses in court asking that the complaint be dismissed.

Lamaur Stancil is Treasure Coast’s regional business reporter covering businesses and industries including retail, tourism and hospitality. Contact him at 321-987-7179 or lamaur.stan[email protected] and follow him at Lamaur Stancil on Facebook and @TCPalmLStancil on Twitter.

James V. Payne