By STEVE REILL (Englewood Sun – STAFF WRITER)
A sure sign that autumn has arrived in Englewood is its Thursday farmers market.
Lee Perron, manager for the nonprofit Englewood, Venice and new North Port markets, anticipated 2,000 to 2,500 shoppers to visit vendors by the 2 p.m. closing time Thursday.
“That’s a good opening,” Perron said. Wednesday, opening day the North Port farmers market — located at CoolToday Park, the Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility, 18800 South West Villages Parkway — saw 2,000 to 2,500 people turn out.
In November 2011, the first day of the Englewood Farmer’s Market saw 17 vendors, 21 booths and attracted 1,500 people. Now there’s more than 56 vendors at the market — and that doesn’t count the markets that sprung up around Englewood’s downtown and are piggybacking on the success of the original nonprofit market.
“We’ve heard nothing bad about Englewood,” said Anthony Sessa of the Fort Myers-based The Pasta Machine, a new vendor at the Englewood Farmers Market.
For Stevie Banks, the drive from North Port was worth it.
“There’s so many different (vendors),” she said.
Rosibel Malheiro sells jewelry and women’s wear at one of the smaller markets at the corner of South Orange Avenue and West Dearborn Street. She’s been coming Thursdays from Sarasota to the Englewood markets for several years.
“I like the people — and it’s quiet,” Malheiro said. Email: email@example.com
By STEVE REILLY, Staff Writer, The Englewood Sun
ENGLEWOOD — Even Lee Perron never imagined the Englewood Farmers Market would be as successful as it is.
“I’ve been really busy,” Perron said Friday. Not surprising.
The Englewood market will be back 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Oct. 3 and every Thursday after that until May on the 300 block of West Dearborn Street at the Pioneer Plaza.
In 2011, Perron imagined it to become a small community market on West Dearborn Street with local growers and vendors selling fresh produce and other commodities. According to Sun reports, in November 2011, the opening day of the Englewood Farmer’s Market saw 17vendors, 21 booths and attracted 1,500 people.
Now, Perron, the manager of the nonprofit market, said more than 80 vendors are on a waiting list and the market attracted 8,000 or more people regularly last year. The Englewood Farmers Market now is also attracting the interest of growers from Florida’s East Coast and elsewhere in the state, something Perron never expected.
This year, the market will see 56 vendors with four new “rock stars” — a French baker, cut flower and professional floral arranger, fresh pasta maker and an “old country” Greek yogurt maker, Perron said.
The success of the Englewood Farmers Market even impressed Atlanta Braves representatives who asked Perron to start up and manage a similar nonprofit market. The seasonal West Villages Market will operate Wednesdays from October through March, at the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Facility, 18800 S. West Villages Parkway.
Many of the same vendors intend to sell their wares at both the West Villages and Englewood markets. Perron does not see the two markets competing with each other, but rather, they will complement each other. He also manages the nonprofit farmers market Saturday mornings at the Venice City Hall.
Citing the growth in West Villages and North Port that the Villages Farmers Market could serve, Perron suggested the Englewood market shouldn’tlose customers nor vendors, but will level out to what can be handled and provide positive experiences for both customers and vendors.
The success of the Englewood Farmers Market can be measured by how it helps others.
As a nonprofit under the tax-exempt status of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, the Englewood Farmers Market contributed more than $84,000 to local charities and other nonprofits from 2011 to 2018. Beneficiaries include the food banks at St. David’s Jubilee Center and Englewood Helping Hand, The Englewood Community Care Clinic, New Paradigm, Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Englewood Elementary School. Email: Steve.Reilly@yoursun.com
County could require subtracting arts vendors, adding more food
By STEVE REILLY – STAFF WRITER
ENGLEWOOD — Sarasota County is seeking a new balance for Englewood’s farmers markets.
County commissioners will consider changing a county ordinance that will limit the number of arts and crafts, jewelry, health and health services, and other non-food vendors to only 25 percent of the total number of vendors. The discussion is set for Nov. 6.
If the ordinance is changed, 75 percent of the remaining vendors must sell vegetables, honey and cheeses, spices, coffees or any other food product, including artisan and prepared foods. The county ordinance now allows a 50-50 split to the products sold at farmers markets.
Farmers markets are held along West Dearborn Street on Thursdays from October to May.
The nonprofit Englewood Farmer’s Market was the first in Englewood, opening eight years ago at the Pioneer Plaza on the 300 block of West Dearborn. Joyce Colmar opened her for-profit Dearborn Street Market across the street. Since then other smaller markets have been sprouting up along and around West Dearborn.
Englewood’s Community Redevelopment Agency staff has been meeting with market managers in an ongoing discussion to devise a reasonable formula and methodology for determining enforcement. The call for the modification of the farmers markets, CRA manager Debbie Marks said, came from various brickand- mortar Dearborn merchants who felt that the arts and other non-produce vendors undermined their businesses last year.
To define the ratio of vendors at the markets, the managers and CRA discussed Tuesday how a 10-by-10-foot space could equate to one unit of vendor’s space.
“I have vendors who are paying for five booths,” Colmar said.
Will that affect the ratio of food to non-food vendors?
And how will county code enforcement determine who is or isn’t in compliance, Englewood Farmer’s Market manager Lee Perron asked.
“It’s a math thing.
Zeros and ones. Either it is or isn’t (in compliance),” Perron said.
Marks suggested a county official could visit a particular market and determine whether the market is meeting the guidelines at the outset of the season. Reporting any subsequent changes would be the responsibility of the managers, she said.
“We need to support our locals first and foremost,” DonnaMarie Lee said.
Lee manages a small farmers market Thursdays, but she also is co-owner of Bobarino’s Pizzeria on Magnolia Avenue at West Dearborn.
“We need to focus on our town first, community first,” she said.
“Then we can bring in the extras.”
SUN PHOTOS BY STEVE REILLY
By STEVE REILLY – STAFF WRITER
ENGLEWOOD — Autumn Glick was impressed with “the magnitude of the various vendors” at the farmer’s markets on West Dearborn Street Thursday.
“And it’s a nice crowd,” said Glick, who served coffee for the Cape Coralbased coffee roaster Jimmy’s Java which travels to various farmer’s markets. Thursday was Jimmy Java’s first day in Englewood, the largest and most diverse of the farmer’s markets they’ve attended.
Expect Jimmy Java to be back next Thursday, Glick said.
The nonprofit Englewood Farmer’s Market Manager Lee Perron suspected Thursday morning the market’s opening day may have been its biggest. He was right. More than 3,200 people strolled through the market Thursday, a record for an opening day, he said.
The nonprofit market was the first in Englewood and opened eight years ago at the Pioneer Plaza on the 300 block of West Dearborn. Since then, it led to other similar markets to spring up around it, including Joyce Colmar’s for-profit Dearborn Street Market across the street from the nonprofit market.
Prior to the opening day for the farmer’s market, which is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday, Perron said he heard “a buzz around town” looking forward to its reopening. The market is also filled to capacity with 58 vendors — and that doesn’t count the numerous vendors at Colmar’s or the other smaller markets.
Chef Ef Martinez, who owned several restaurants in New York City before moving to Venice, prepared paella at the farmer’s market and sold “Cordon Oro, all-purpose seasoning.” It’s his third year at the market. Like Perron, Martinez thought the market saw a goodsized opening crowd Thursday.
Les Bernstein, a Olde Englewood Village Association board member, said the farmer’s markets attracted a “good crowd.” He also noticed new vendors selling their wares on Dearborn Thursday.
Bernstein owns the brick-and-mortar Rehab on Dearborn, vintage and collectibles shop just west of the farmer’s market. He could not say whether all the merchants benefit from the farmer’s markets, but he did know the markets bring additional foot traffic up and down West Dearborn.
photos by Steve Reilly
By STEVE REILLY (Englewood Sun staff writer)
ENGLEWOOD — The temperature and humidity may still signal summer, but a sure sign of the fall season will be on West Dearborn Street in nine days.
“The Englewood Famer’s Market is set to launch its new season,” said Lee Perron, who manages both the Englewood and Venice farmers markets. The market will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Oct. 4, at Pioneer Plaza, 300 W. Dearborn St., Englewood.
This week, Perron and three helpers spread 100 cubic yards of mulch — a 60-foot-long semi-trailer plus two dump truck loads — to mark out the pathways between vendors at the Pioneer Plaza, Perron said.
Joyce Colmar, owner of the property across from the plaza, is expected to bring back her Dearborn Street Market of assorted vendors as well. Colmar could not be reached for comment.
The Englewood Farmer’s Market is the second-largest in Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties. The downtown Sarasota Farmers Market is the largest in any of the three counties.
The Venice Farmers Market operates year-round, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. It’s located at the Venice City Hall on the 400 block of West Venice Avenue and the Avenue Des Parques.
Englewood’s is at 300 W. Dearborn St., the heart of Olde Englewood Village.
Why go to a farmers market? On the Englewood Farmer’s Market Facebook page, Perron wrote: “You can shop for local and organic fresh Florida produce directly from local farmers, find wild-caught Florida seafood from local fishermen, select from seven gourmet bakers including gluten-free, taste and sample international artisan food creations, discover the amazing selection of flowers, plants and trees from our green space vendors, and of course enjoy the music and ambiance of a true food and agricultural market experience.”
|Ivani Norman of Myakka City sells vegan organic homemade cowboy cookies and breads at the Englewood Farmer’s Market in 2017.
SUN FILE PHOTO BY ELAINE ALLEN-EMRICH
Efrain Martinez of Al Anadaluz packs up a tin of paella during the Englewood Farmer’s Market in 2017.
SUN FILE PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA HERRERA
It also supports local growers — there will be 11 this year — and supports SNAP and the Fresh Access Bucks double dollars program for customers who qualify for that federal assistance.
The market is also good for West Dearborn Street and Englewood’s traditional downtown.
“(The farmers market) brings lots of people to Dearborn,” said TaylorMeals, president of the Olde Englewood Village Association. Besides being a big draw in itself, Meals said, the farmers market draws potentially new customers into Dearborn’s restaurants and shops.
In November 2011, the outset of Englewood Farmer’s Market saw 17 vendors and 21 booths, attracting 1,500 people on its opening day. By the end of the season, the market grew to 43 vendors and 50 booths, attracting 70,000 people by the end of the inaugural season.
Subsequently, the Englewood market grew annually, attracting an even larger crop of vendors and booths. From the fall of last year until this spring, the market’s 60 vendors served 165,000 attendees, a 8 percent increase over the previous year.
Venice’s farmers market sees 50 vendors participating at the farmer markets on Saturdays, with 5,000 people showing up during season. The Venice market started operating as a nonprofit last year. The market now expects to see 8,000 people per week during the winter season.
As a nonprofit under the tax-exempt Friends of Sarasota County Parks, the Englewood Farmers Market has contributed $84,000 to local charities and other nonprofits since 2011. Beneficiaries include the food banks at St. David’s Jubilee Center and Englewood Helping Hand, The Englewood Community Care Clinic, New Paradigm, Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Englewood Elementary School.
The Venice Farmers Market intends to donate $17,000 by the end of 2018.
|Lee Perron is getting ready to open up the 2018-2019 Englewood Farmer’s Market on Englewood’s West Dearborn Street.|
I would like to take a moment and thank each and every one of you for all your support and assistance in making the Englewood Farmers Market the best market in the tri-county area! We are truly unique in both our qualitative focus on food and agriculture and giving back to the community we serve. Your level of professionalism and talent has set the benchmark for a very successful future.
This is also the time of year that we should pause to reflect on the goodness that life has brought us this past year, even in the face of adversity on occasion.
It is our sincere hope that this holiday season and the year to come bring joy, laughter, and much success to you and your families!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
From the EFM team with much love,
Amy, Bob, Lee, Marie, Mike, Ricardo, Rose & Tom
@ THE Englewood Farmers Market
One of my favorite places to go on a lazy day is a farmer’s market.
It’s really like the best of everything that is good in the world — it features freshly grown or raised food, it’s populated by friendly people, it takes place outdoors, and perhaps best of all, you can get free samples of almost everything.
When you head to the Englewood Farmer’s Market, if you don’t remember anything else about this column, don’t forget to go there hungry. Seriously, there are 60 vendors and 73 booths, and probably more than 95 percent of them are selling food items. And what better way to get you interested in purchasing what they’re selling than to let you taste it?
Take it from me, that tactic works. But as you’re eating your way through the market, just know that it’s actually food that is good for you. Take Mr. Pesto, for instance. His given name is Bob Garbowicz, but I tend to call people by whatever name they have printed on the front of their apron.
Anyway, Mr. Pesto sells sauces and yes, pestos, all made with fresh basil. And let me tell you, the man is serious about his basil.
“I grow my own basil for my tomato sauces, but my homegrown basil is not worthy of my pestos,” he said. “If you’re going to say you have the world’s greatest pesto, you start with the world’s greatest basil. All basil is not created equal.”
That’s why he gets the basil he uses in his pesto from an organic, hydroponic grower.
Fresh ingredients are also important to Richard Harmon, who owns Paradise Peanut Butter. He uses all kinds of different nuts and comes up with some incredibly creative nut butters, of which I tried a few, of course. The White Chocolate Raspberry tasted like you could put it on a sandwich and forgo the jelly, but my favorite was the Coconut, which smelled so good I didn’t know if I wanted to eat it or drink it.
All of the vendors at this nonprofit farmer’s market are distinctively unique — for instance, there are several bakers, but they all specialize in something different. The market manager, Lee Perron, said that because everything sold there has to be fresh, bakers are required tohave baked their goods the day before market, at the latest.
“That’s the type of market this is,” he said. “We have 11 growers in our market, but they have to be a local grower. The rule here is diversity, not duplication.”
All I can say is that as I left the Englewood Farmer’s Market, I took a lot of food with me, both in bags and in my belly. I asked Perron how hecould spend so much time at this market and the Venice Farmer’s Market, which he also manages, and still manage to stay so thin.
“I also spend a lot of time at the gym,” he said.
Debbie Flessner writes the Live Like a Tourist column for the Sun newspapers. You may contact her at dj@ flessner.net.
The Englewood Farmer’s Market is open every Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., October through May.
Bob Garbowicz, also known as “Mr. Pesto,” gives out samples to some customers who are obviously ready to buy.
One of the hallmarks of the Englewood Farmer’s Market is its large selection of various types of produce.
“Big Daddy,” of Perry’s Barbecue, is a well-loved staple at many area farmer’s markets.
You’ve never seen a pot of paella as big as this one at the booth of al-Andaluz Paellas and Tapas.
SUN PHOTOS BY DEBBIE FLESSNER
Providing classic rock musical accompaniment for my taste-testing was the talented Andre’ Lemiuex.
by Claudia Castillo
Serves 8, 1 cup per serving
contact: Lee Perron
The Englewood Farmers Market is set to launch their new season on Thursday, October 5th! First off, we want to welcome back our all star line-up of the best food and agriculture vendors in the region. We’re also going to have some fantastic new talent joining the market this season! In addition to local pasture raised chickens, ducks and turkeys plus farm fresh eggs from Sarasota’s Grove Ladder Farm, there will be two new gourmet bakers with French tarts and American pies, Empanadas from Argentina, handmade popsicles, ready to take home gourmet meals, and new fusion drink beverages. In addition, you’ll see live cooking demos every week with Master Chef Chasky. Chef Chasky will be creating and featuring recipes made with fresh ingredients purchased that morning from the market vendors.
As part of our mission to support local farmers and an initiative with our SNAP and Fresh Access Bucks double dollars program, we’re thrilled to have eleven local grower’s this season” stated market manager Lee Perron.
As a non-profit farmers market that donates its proceeds back to the local community, the Englewood Farmers Market donated over $21,000 last season to St. David’s and Helping Hand food banks, the Englewood Care Clinic, the Englewood Sports Complex, New Paradigm and Englewood Elementary School.
The Englewood Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 9 AM – 2 PM, October through May in the 300 Block of Historic W. Dearborn Street.
For more information please check out our website: www.englewoodfarmersmarket.org or contact Lee Perron via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (941) 445-9209.
Herald-Tribune – A foodies destination (FULL ARTICLE)
|Englewood Farmers Market
For farm-fresh finds and prepared foods
By Vanessa Caceres
Foodies, you’ve met your match at the Englewood Farmers Market. Held on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. October through May in Old Englewood Village, the Englewood Farmers Market focuses exclusively on farm-fresh finds and prepared foods. So, want some fresh guacamole and chips? Got it. In-season produce from Florida farms? Yes, in full force. Paella, fresh seafood, or pickles? Check, check, check.
The Englewood Market draws a large crowd of people from south Sarasota County all the way down to Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, said market manager Lee Perron.
The market, sponsored by the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, got its start after a conversation in 2011 about the need for a vibrant farmers market in the area. In its first week, the market had 21 vendors and about 1,500 visitors; within three months, the market had 40 vendors and 3,000 visitors a week.
This season, the market has had about 60 vendors and 6,000 to 7,000 visitors weekly.
So what keeps people coming back?
“We have a unique focus on food and agriculture,” Perron said. “We have 11 different growers, including
small farmers. We have guacamole, salsa, paella, Maggie’s Seafood, cheese, and more.”
Bottom line: If you leave the Englewood Farmers Market hungry, it’s your own fault.
Another reason for the market’s popu-larity is that it brings something fun to do to an otherwise quiet area.
“When the circus comes to town, everyone wants to see,” said Mark Web-ster, vendor and owner of The Happy Pickle.
The market also believes in giving back to the community. Through a grant program, users of SNAP (formerly food stamps) can spend double their dollars on Florida-grown produce items sold at the market. Of all the markets in Florida that take part in that program, the Englewood market has the highest usage, Perron said.
A regular cooking demonstration shows market attendees how they can easily prepare recipes with healthy ingredients from the market. The Englewood market also participates in research on how grassroots efforts such as those at the market make a difference in health outcomes.
Local elementary students have regular field trips to the market, and the market is heavily promoted via the health depar tments of both Charlotte and Sarasota counties. The SCAT bus system even stops near the market, occasionally offering free bus rides there on Thursday mornings.
Speaking of market access, parking for the market recently became a little easier. There are expanded parking lots near Green Street and on the west end of Dearborn. It’s easiest to find parking earlier in the day or after 12. The market’s busiest time is from 10 a.m. to noon.
“Once we get rolling, we’re really jammed,” Perron said.
Here’s more information on a few of the market vendors.
The folks at Venus Veggies make a two-hour drive each way from the small down of Venus to attend the Englewood Farmers Market and offer certified organic prod uce.
“Everything’s picked the day before,” said Emily Troup of Venus Veggies.
Still, she added that the hard work is worth it as they’ve developed regular customers over the past four years.
Some of their best-selling items include lettuce and black cherry tomatoes. Depending on what’s in season, Venus Veggies also has carrots, all kinds of greens, eggplants, eggs, and more.
Tropical Island Kettle Corn
If you watch visitors strolling in and out of the Englewood Market this time of year, you’ll notice two things. First, there’s a lot of talk about what people want to do before they “go back north.” Second, most everyone seems to carry long bags of kettle corn. Those visitors know about Tropical Island Kettle Corn from Punta Gorda. Owners Carol Turner and Jim Dembrowski worked with their daughter, a nutritionist, to create a sweet and salty recipe that uses less sugar.
“It tastes great,” Turner said.
And it does, perfect to munch on as you look around the market or on your drive home. FYI: Kettle corn freezes well, allowing the sugar to get crunch without losing its taste.
A farmers market needs to have at least one honey vendor, and Weil Honey of Punta Gorda offers a mix of raw honey along with other health products. Fresh coconut oil, honey powder, organic numeric, Ceylon cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar are among John Weil’s other offerings. Weil has 4,000 hives around the Englewood and Punta Gorda region, so they produce a wide range of honey types, including honeybell, wildflower, and buckwheat. Some of Weil’s customers use his honey to boost their health and even help with sleep, Weil said.
The Happy Pickle
It’s easy to take pickles and olives for granted, but you probably won’t do that if you buy from The Happy Pickle of Fort Myers. mark Webster and family sell about 20 varieties of olives and pickles and participate in markets from Sarasota down to Marco Island. The kosher dills are particularly popular, as are the half-sours—sometimes called half-dills, Webster said. Their olives come from a Greek vendor. Make sure to try the olives with stuffed blue cheese.
Stamper Chees e
If you’re from Wisconsin then you know all about Wisconsin cheese. But you don’t have to be a cheesehead to appreciate Stamper Cheese, which sells a variety of cheeses from the state and offers free samples. The ever-popular cheese curds are a hit, as are the cheddar, gouda, and herbed Monterey jack varieties, said Rich Olson.
Next Gen Organics
Next Gen Organic’s Robert Ferdinandsen of Gibsonton helps people custom-build their own aquaponics and aquaculture systems to grow without pesticides and herbicides. Although this has been Ferdinandsen’s first season at the market, he has five years of experience with aquaponics and explains to visitors various sustainable farming methods.
Emily Troup of Venus Veggies. [PHOTOS BY VANESSA CACERES]
Rich Olson of Stamper Cheese.
John Weil of Weil Honey.
Gratitude and Thanks from Executive Director Marty Mesh
Dear Lee Perron,
As I think back on this year and look toward 2017, I am filled with gratitude for the past and optimism for the future as, together, we have accomplished so much in growing the organic food and farming movement in Florida and beyond. There are so many challenges and so much work to be done going forward that it will clearly be a busy year!
This past year, we worked hard every day to increase access to organic, local food; support organic farmers; and provide information and resources to growers and consumers across the state.
From expanding Fresh Access Bucks to more than 30 markets around the state to analyzing public policy and advocating for improvements in food safety, the Farm Bill and local food systems to hosting farmer workshops, we have worked towards making Florida’s organic food and farming movement a real political and economic force.
With your year-end, tax-deductible donation, we can maintain our momentum in 2017.
Next year marks our 30th year of fighting for organic farmers and strengthening local food systems. We have exciting plans for 2017 and want YOU to join us!
Connecting farmers with those who need us most
In 2017, Fresh Access Bucks will work with more than 45 direct-to-consumer outlets to benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida, massively increasing farmer revenue! The program will do this by training more than 350 farmer producers to accept SNAP/EBT at farmers markets and direct-to-consumer outlets around the state.
Growing the next generation of organic farmers
We are excited to continue our mission of educating organic farmers and equipping them with the tools needed for both short-term and long-term success. In addition to hosting multiple on-farm workshops in 2017, we are excited to again plan a statewide Organic Farmer Training workshop. Stay tuned for more details!
Seeking change through collaboration
FOG will continue to drive public policy and advocacy on behalf of organic farmers and consumers who want to support such common sense priorities as better access to healthier food for all and for protecting our fragile natural resources.
Our presence in Washington, D.C. for Hill days as well as active involvement with leading advocacy organizations has propelled organic and sustainable agriculture forward and helped broaden and deepen the understanding of its importance.
Your generosity is an act of hope
We are so thankful to those who support FOG – your contributions allow us to continue to invest in organic farmers, farm workers and the education and research needed to help organic farmers be successful.
We need your support now more than ever – join us and let’s make a difference in our state and beyond.
(ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – December 5, 2016) – The Englewood Farmers Market, as a chapter of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, operates as a non-profit enterprise serving the local Englewood community.
Each season, proceeds above operating costs are donated back to local community organizations that provide services to local residents that need support and assistance.
The Englewood Farmers Market donated over $20,000 to our local food pantries, St. David’s and Helping Hand, Englewood Meals on Wheels, FOSCP and the Englewood Care Clinic.
Pictured standing left to right: Tom and Amy Stone , Marie Laforge, Rose Hutchinson, Ricardo Ruggiero, Mike Hutchinson, Jim Baines and Howard Goodrich, Administrator from Helping Hand, and Bill Lavriha, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels. Kneeling, Lee A. Perron.
The Englewood Farmers Market kicked off its sixth season this past Thursday morning. If you have never been, you are missing out. Although forecasts for Hurricane Matthew cast a little uncertainty as to how the day would play out, the weather was more than cooperative and attendance was up from last year’s first market of the season. The market is open from 9AM to 2PM, so I had not been able to attend in the past. This was my first time and I was so impressed! I will be returning frequently in the future.
I asked guests how they knew about the market’s opening today. Some saw it on Facebook, others mentioned the banners draped across Indiana (SR 776), some said they saw flyers posted locally, and one lady said she wrote it on her calendar last year to make sure she would not miss it.
I spoke with both attendees and vendors, asking about the market experience. One first-time guest was a gentleman visiting from South Carolina. His family evacuated here to stay with his brother, who brought them to the Englewood Farmers Market “for something positive to do together.” Another woman said she attended every week last year and makes a morning of it. She starts with Chai at the Mermaid Café down the street, walks through the market, then sometimes grabs another Chai.
Nearly everyone commented on the atmosphere. I spoke with one group of ladies, perhaps three generations. The toddler danced, mesmerized by music performed by a stringed duo. “We love it here,” said one of the women, citing how warm and friendly the vendors and guests were. “We came here looking for pickles, they have the best pickles, and popcorn…We love it here. There’s something for everyone.” “This is THE BEST farmers market ANYWHERE,” insisted another woman who explained that she has travelled and attended farmers markets all over. She and her husband are centered in Venice but will always come to the Englewood Farmers Market “because it is different. It has great products and the best feel. It really gives you a sense of community.”
When asked about market favorites, besides repeated mentions of the friendly environment, answers were as diverse as the guests. I overheard the vendor at Leah’s Lemonade really raving to a customer about the quality of Joshua Citrus’ fruit. Some guests said the exotic mushroom stand was the most unique. Others listed baked goods from the variety of vendors including BAM German Bakery, Daily Bread, bagels and Island Gluten Free Bakery. Maggie’s Seafood came up most frequently as “must visit” stop for shoppers. Perry’s Original BBQ was said to have the best brisket around. The large paella pan caught the eyes and taste buds of many and Jason’s Fire Fusions made a few eyes water. Furthermore, a number of people told me they preferred to shop here for organic produce, baked goods, and honey, explaining the quality was better and the organic label more reliable. Smiling people purchased vibrant orchids, fruit, and vegetables. It was an explosion of color.
The Englewood Farmers Market started back in 2011 with around 25 vendors and has grown into the thriving market/event it is today. It is a non-profit organization that donates all of its profit to local charities including Meals on Wheels, local food banks, the kids backpack program, Englewood Community Care Clinic, and others. A committee oversees vendor selection to ensure the products are high quality and that duplication and competition with local merchants is limited. For a list of current vendors or for information on becoming a vendor, email them at email@example.com, visit their website http://englewoodfarmersmarket.org or @englewoodfarmersmarket page on Facebook.
Again, if you’ve never been, you are missing out. The Englewood Farmers Market is open every Thursday from 9 AM until 2 PM, October through May. Support the community and make plans to attend. You will not be disappointed.