The town of Arcadia is a great place to visit for a number of reasons – including its historic downtown antiques district, and a homegrown produce and meat market, both attracting thousands of visitors each year.
At slightly under 8,000 residents, Arcadia is off the beaten path, yet a path worth taking for hidden treasures.
The town is known as an agricultural and rural community in DeSoto County, Florida, yet its popularity with antique hunters adds another dimension to the farming.
Recently I made a day trip there, and came home with what I went for – food photography props from browsing the antique shops; a full cooler of meats for my freezer; and homegrown produce – a rousing success! (Be sure to check out below just how MUCH food I bought for only $68.46!)
If you haven’t been, I highly recommend a visit to Arcadia! It’s a wonderful little community I’ve been fond of for many years, and you’ll enjoy spending time in this quieter part of Florida.
Today’s post by The Daily Artisan is divided into three parts:
- Part 1: Antiques Hunting in Historic Downtown Arcadia;
- Part 2: Found Food Photography Props; and
- Part 3: K&J Homegrown Produce and Meat Market
This post by The Daily Artisan is the fourth in a series of “VISIT” places I go and photograph. The VISIT series’ earlier installments are provided at the bottom of this post, with links to the locations.
Part 1. Antiques Hunting in Historic Downtown Arcadia
Arcadia, Florida was founded in 1886, and the downtown historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some years ago, a handful of antique shops opened downtown, and as more and more people from around the state flocked to them, even more opened.
This was my first visit back since the coronavirus hit, and it was great to see the shops bustling with visitors. You won’t find nicer people than Arcadians, and their Southern ways remind me of my upbringing.
For this visit, my aim was to find props for my food photography to add to what I already have. I had in mind antique metals that would work nicely with food shots, and I wasn’t disappointed! Further below in this post are photographs of what I found – and you’ll see them in some upcoming food-styled pictures.
First, though, are some photographs of the town. The main downtown street is Oak Street, and shops and cafes/coffee houses line both sides.
With camera in hand, I was reminded of the fascinating things to see in the shops – like this antique cash register. Historical details are provided on the yellow card in the first photograph.
Some sights of downtown – one of the antique shops is a converted bank, and you’ll see the old vault door is still part of the interior structure. (And, chocolate bacon – yes, please, I think!)
More sights and interesting architecture and tilework:
This shop – The Vintage Garden/Antiques and Cottage Decor – looks like it’s from the pages of a magazine. There are many rooms within the store, and each is beautifully decorated with items throughout for sale.
And, last but not least, Myshelly’s Kitchen is a wonderful downtown coffee shop/cafe for breakfast and lunch, with a great menu and really nice people who own it and who work there. In addition to traditional fare, they have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
The right photograph is the amazing bison burger with cheese (for two!), and to the left is the beautiful, nine-year-old Violet holding court on her (antique) settee! I was completely smitten with her sweetest personality and softest doggie fur ever.
Had Violet been for sale, I would have come home from Arcadia with more than antiques, produce, and meats!
Part 2. Found Food Photography Props
Vintage kitchen items are popular now, and the antique shops in Arcadia had a lot of them. The thing I’ve found with successful antique hunting is looking high and looking low for those not-immediately-spotted items that are just what you’re searching for.
In most of the shops, I was able to find metal kitchen items I had in mind, along with lots of other vintage kitchen things for maybe a future trip. But on this one, I was focused on vintage metals.
If you’ve been following The Daily Artisan blog, you know I love to cook and bake, and photograph the items in process and at completion.
Styling the scenes for taking food photographs is one of my favorite parts, and I have props of things I actually use at home, and other items purchased specifically for this purpose. When you’re setting a scene for photographing food (and other scenes like flowers), so many options exist in terms of colors, moods, fancy vs. casual, and props that help to tell your story.
As an example, below is a photograph I recently featured in the blog post for National Dark Chocolate Day. I baked double-chocolate-espresso muffins to feature in the pictures for the post.
You could simply line up the muffins and take a shot of them, and be done with it.
Or, you could style the scene so it’s more layered and interesting to look at, like I think this photo from the post is (or at least that was my intent).
For illustration purposes, I’ve outlined in red the vintage spoon (handed down to me with family silver), and the metal grater (purchased in an antique shop) on which two of the muffins are placed.
These are the kinds of vintage items I wanted to add to my props collection, and the reason for my trip to the antique shops in Arcadia. And here’s what I brought home for future photo shoots!
My favorite find was something I spotted from across one shop and made a beeline toward before anyone else could get their hands on it. It’s a vintage, commercial colander from an old restaurant, and the options for it as a food photo prop are endless.
The colander is huge – 19″ across including the handles (15″ diameter for the bowl part), and 7″ tall – and it weighs 6.2 pounds!
The other eight items I found (over three stores) are vintage muffin pans (13″, and 6″ square); pewter compote (8″ diameter); biscuit cutter (2″); ice cream scoop (7″); pie server (9″); balloon whisk (10″); and coil whisk (8″).
It was a lot of fun browsing the shops and finding these vintage items to bring home – I can hardly wait to use them in upcoming food photography!
Part 3. K&J Homegrown Produce and Meat Market
About a five-minute drive from downtown Arcadia, you’ll find the popular K&J Homegrown Produce and Meat Market.
People literally drive from hours away in all directions to buy these fresh vegetables and fruits – and to stock up on meats for their freezers. It’s like a pilgrimage for many who come over every four to six weeks to stock up on meats.
Each time I’ve shopped here, the parking lot is packed with cars and trucks, and most all of them have cold coolers in the back awaiting bulk purchases of meats – everything from beef to chicken, pork, and seafood.
If you’re looking for a fancy grocery store, this is not your place – but if you’re looking for the freshest products at really low prices – and lots to choose from – you will love K&J’s. (There also are seasonings, jams and jellies, and other items to add to your cart.)
The quality of both the produce and the meats is outstanding – and the low prices literally will shock you. As indicated at the start of this post, I spent $68.46, and look at what all I got!
- 4 pork sirloin chops (2.6 pounds);
- 3.13 pounds of ground chuck;
- 2.7-pound sirloin tip roast;
- 3 pounds of chicken tenderloins;
- 10 beef-eye-of-round steaks (2 pounds);
- 2 pounds of green beans;
- 3.5 pounds pounds of shelled purple hull peas (love them and hard to find!);
- 1 pound of strawberries;
- 2 navel oranges;
- 3 large, vine-ripened tomatoes; and
- 3 lemons.
I love my local grocery store, but I can’t come out of there without spending $50 on just a handful of items. Not so with K&J Homegrown Produce and Meat Market – and I have my freezer (and the below receipt) to show for it!
Location and contact information is provided below in the post footnotes.
I grabbed a quick photo of part of the produce section when only a few people were milling about. The place is so popular there’s a perpetual checkout line of anywhere from 20 to 30 people (all day long), but it moves quickly with three cashiers.
Other people I know who make the pilgrimage to K&J Homegrown Produce and Meat Market also swear by the great quality; huge range of choices; and low prices!
Arcadia, Florida is a wonderful day trip for all the reasons described in this blog post, and I encourage you to visit for the antiques, produce, and meats! (Also, the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo is a lot of fun, and its 94th event will be held March 10-13; Google it for more details.)
The Antique Association of Arcadia website provides information, including on an antique fair held on the fourth Saturday of each month. Google it for additional information, including on the various shops and cafes.
K&J Homegrown Produce and Meat Market is located at 2228 SE Hwy 70, Arcadia, FL 34266. For additional information, call 863-491-0705, or Google its Facebook page.
VISIT is a series of blog posts about visited and photographed locations in Southwest Florida and beyond by The Daily Artisan. The posts can be viewed on my website at:
- Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens (Punta Gorda, Florida): VISIT: Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens
- The Wonder Gardens (Bonita Springs, Florida): VISIT: The Wonder Gardens
- Coconut Point (Estero, Florida): VISIT: Coconut Point Open-Air Mall