Renamed Edward L. Myrick State Farmers Market looks to future of continued growth

Last year the Florida Senate renamed the former Pompano State Farmers Market the Edward L. Myrick State Farmers Market. Myrick is a U.S. army veteran, and is recognized as a pillar of the community by his peers and local and Florida state government.

Edward L. Myrick Produce has maintained space on the market for many years, and Myrick has been a leading force in the many changes and improvements the market has undergone throughout the years.

“He is rather shy about it,” Jimmy Myrick, Myrick’s son and vice president of the company, told The Produce News. “But he is also very proud and humbled. The plaque, which hangs in our office, states that change was sponsored by Florida Sen. Christopher L. Smith. It recognizes dad for all of the work he has done in the community.”

Myrick added that signs in the market are only now being changed to reflect the name change.

Florida lists 20 state-supported farmers markets, all of which play a vital role in receiving produce from local growers and from offshore companies, and supplying retailers, foodservice operators and industrial institutions with fresh fruits and vegetables on a year-round basis.

There are 12 state farmers markets that offer attendant services such as produce refrigeration, truck weigh scales, packinghouses, coolers, offices, farm supply, restaurants and produce brokerage sales as well as produce and freight shipping companies.

“Through volume production and marketing, effective competition is assured for both small and large growers and buyers,” the Bureau of State Farmers Markets, part of the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Service, states on its website.

Historian Dan Hobby noted that the Edward L. Myrick State Farmers Market is one of the few remaining reminders of Pompano Beach’s agricultural past.

Hobby chronicled the history of the market, from its earliest days to the present, in an article headlined “Save the Market,” originally published in Trade Winds magazine, an official publication of the city of Pompano Beach, FL, in 2014.

Prior to 1939, the local farmers market was situated in downtown Pompano Beach by the Florida East Coast Railway. Hobby said that with its mixture of commercial businesses that served the town’s population, offices for produce brokers and the various packingsheds and loading platforms, the Flagler Avenue site was a bustling scene during the growing season.

As downtown Pompano continued to expand, the market had no opportunity for additional growth. According to Hobby, a coalition of farmers formed in the mid-1930s to look for an alternate location, which meant that state and federal funding would be a necessity.

During the winter growing season, the market handles hundreds of trucks a day that bring Florida produce to be sold and shipped to customers near and far.

Although there was opposition to the project, eventually the delegation of agricultural leaders successfully lobbied Agricultural Commissioner Nathan Mayo to earmark $75,000 for the project from the state of Florida. Another $75,000 of federal dollars were secured with the assistance of Sen. Claude Pepper.

The doors to the Pompano Beach State Farmer’s Market officially opened for business on Nov. 16, 1939. At that time Pompano Beach had only a little over 4,000 residents, but over 5,000 people came to see the new facility. The 1,008-foot-long platform, said to be the longest in the world at that time, was a focal point of attention.

“Since that time, the Pompano State Farmers Market has continued to be an important multi-million dollar economic force in the community,” Hobby wrote at the time. “In the past several decades, the original structures have been upgraded or replaced, and new buildings have been added. Although the past 70 years have brought amazing changes to the surrounding landscape, the market looks forward to continuing as an important agricultural center in Pompano Beach.”

Until just a couple of years ago, the importation of fresh fruits and vegetables into southern ports in Florida and even Georgia were prohibited by law. But the laws were written and put into effect years ago when ocean shipments lacked cold storage during transport from a foreign country.

New laws now in effect have opened these ports, thereby deepening even more the importance of the Edward L. Myrick State Farmers Market because of its proximity to ports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. This also reduces transportation costs and carbon footprints, and increases shelf life because importers are no longer required to have their fresh produce shipped through Northern ports and then transported to south Florida for further processing and distribution.

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