Tampa Bay is home to many farmers markets, but Bearss Groves located on Lake Magdalene Boulevard in North Tampa has been around since 1894. The market sells a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables and homemade food.
Marty and Louise Bearss, a Tampa foundation family, were the original owners of the market until 2006, when long time friends Barry and Courtney Lawrence took over.
Built in 1993, the market has been around for over 20 years and consists of 10 to 15 employees. Manager Corey Emplit, who has been an employee for more than four years, speaks highly of his workplace.
“I love what I do,” Emplit said. “We are one of the oldest groves in the surrounding area and focus just on one market, which is this one. We want our customers to be educated in what they buy, and want them to feel like family every time they come. It’s also a busy season now until the end of the year because of the holidays. Apart from our regular produce, we also sell Christmas trees.”
The market is best known for its orange, grapefruit and tangerine citrus juices. The orange groves and gardens, where the markets grow their pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, are located mainly in Lutz, Brooksville and Dade City.
University of Tampa professor Kacy Tillman is a frequent Bearss Groves shopper, coming every Thursday morning for more than five years now.
“One of the very first memories I have of this place is coming around Thanksgiving and sitting my son in a pumpkin bin display and taking pictures of him,” Tillman said. “Since then, this place and the people here have become a part of my life.”
Tillman went on to say that she appreciates the competitiveness of prices, and the incomparable quality of the produce.
“If the quality of a certain product starts to go down, they stop selling it,” Tillman said. “They only want the best products sold at their market. Also, if they don’t offer a certain product they try to bring it in upon customer request. Bearss Groves is and always will be my go-to fresh produce market.”