Haven Fresh shop serves up fresh fruit smoothies, healthy fare

Glades County Democrat/Chris Felker

Co-owner Juan Martinez mixes up a smoothie while frequent patron Chuck Larrance (left) slides a tip into the jar at the Haven Fresh cafe on Avenue I in Moore Haven. The shop started selling raw juices, mixes and breakfast items last October after months of selling fruits and vegetables outside and door-to-door.

 

MOORE HAVEN — Moore Haven has a new healthful food option aptly named Haven Fresh, a small oasis serving fresh-fruit smoothies, raw juice mixes and breakfast items – also selling just-picked produce – that’s open all day, every day, except Sunday.

On that day set aside to honor the Lord, you’ll find the youthful co-owners, Juan Martinez and his wife, Nancy Vazquez, worshipping at Agape rather than behind the counter whirring up some special nectar in their little store. Ms. Vazquez tells of their gratefulness for the day about four years ago when, preoccupied with money worries, they listened to the Agape pastor preach a particularly memorable Old Testament lesson, from 2 Kings 4:1-7. “We started this business because of the Word from church, because we didn’t have money for rent we had to pay. One Sunday, he (husband Juan) was going to ask pastor for money to pay the rent. So the pastor started preaching and he said, ‘OK, God is telling me that someone doesn’t have money for their rent.’ And he was thinking that was ME!” Ms. Vazquez said she started ruminating in her head, “So maybe he’s going to give … like, say, ‘Let’s give something to that person, some money.’” But Pastor Edgar Figueroa went in another direction.

“And then Pastor started preaching, (telling) about the widow that (had a son to provide for) – when her husband died, he had a lot of debt. So a prophet told her, ‘Do you have something in your house to sell?’ And she said ‘No, I have nothing but this jar of oil.’ And he said, ‘Well, you and your son have to sell that.’ And he (her husband, Juan) believes in that. And she started putting gallons of oil out, and that’s why we started doing that, believing in God, that was His thing for us,” she explained.The Bible story is a bit different than their situation, but it was applicable nonetheless.

“So we started with $60, selling vegetables house by house, and then decided, with the money we pay for rent, we have more than that. And then Juan said, ‘Well, OK, let’s start selling vegetables and fruit,’ and then we found this place, we rented it, and we’re here.”

Haven Fresh is in a small, square building surrounded by a fence along Avenue I Northwest just north of the hunkering U.S. 27 bridge through town, a bit hidden from traffic’s view. Ms. Vazquez says they rented a billboard just east of the bridge to announce their presence. She said they do plan to add to their simple menu, with sandwiches and other lunch possibilities, “down the road.”

How’s foot traffic been since they opened their store? (That was back on Jan. 14, 2017.) “It’s been good.” She said they finished months of renovation work inside the building and opened it up for smoothies and breakfasts just in October.

“We’re thinking now about how to fix up the outside because a lot of people want to stay and sit, chatting with their friends, while they enjoy their smoothies or food. And we’re thinking about doing something outside,” Ms. Vazquez said, saying business has picked up enough to start planning more.

Right now it’s a plain concrete enclosure surrounding the building with chain link around it, where the couple originally were selling the fruits and vegetables that they traveled to the Immokalee produce market to get. A picnic table or two probably will come first.

That first small amount of money went a long way. “We started with $60, and we bought everything – jalapeños, bell peppers, cucumbers – and then we started selling it house by house.”

They’ve lived in Moore Haven for a while. Nancy, 26, said, “I’ve been here for almost 12 years, and he’s been here like 20 years.” Juan, who’s 28, and she both immigrated from Mexico, her from the border state of Coahuila and him from the southern rural farming state of Chiapas, and they plan now, as permanent legal residents, to have children someday.

“We are believing in God that this is what God wants us to do to prosper in our life and in the community. We have a little, small town and we didn’t have a produce source, before the dollar store that just opened, a place to go and buy vegetables and food.” Nancy and Juan hope to be providing for their community for a good, long time.

The Glades County Democrat is published every Thursday.

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