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EFM – A foodie destination spot for south Sarasota County

Herald-Tribune – A foodies destination (FULL ARTICLE)

04/19/2017

Englewood Farmers Market

For farm-fresh finds and prepared foods

By Vanessa Caceres

Correspondent

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

Lee Perron is the market manager. [PHOTO BY VANESSA CACERES]

 

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.

Venus Veggies

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.

Weil Honey

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.

Info: englewoodfarmersmarket.org

Emily Troup of Venus Veggies. [PHOTOS BY VANESSA CACERES]

 

Rich Olson of Stamper Cheese.

John Weil of Weil Honey.

The EFM Donates over $20k Back to Englewood Community

(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.

Englewood Farmers Market (by Mary Alampi)

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 info@englewoodfarmersmarket.org, 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.

Englewood Farmers Market – article written by Mary Alampi, extracted from her blog [click here]

It’s a Snap

its-a-snap-1BY VANESSA CAREERS | EDIBLE SARASOTA

It’s a “SNAP” to support Florida-grown produce at the Englewood Farmers’ Market.

Produce vendors at the market accept SNAP—short for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. Now, with help from the organization Florida Organic Growers, SNAP users can stretch their food dollars with a program called Fresh Access Bucks. Under Fresh Access Bucks, SNAP participants swipe their EBT card and receive double the amount they spend, up to $20, to spend on Florida-grown fruits and vegetables.

With Fresh Access Bucks, Florida farmers get a revenue boost and SNAP participants have a more affordable way to eat healthy food. Statewide, the program is expected to boost Florida farmer revenue by $580,000 over the next two years, according to Florida Organic Growers.

The busy Englewood market has had the program since fall 2014, says Market Manager Lee Perron (see sidebar for other local farmers’ markets that accept SNAP). “We’ve been one of the top markets in the program, which shows you the percentage of need here,” he says.

Yet the market decided to ramp up its involvement with monthly cooking demonstrations that feature market-to-table recipes.

The first demonstration, held in January in partnership with the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (the program that administers SNAP) and Fresh Access Bucks, featured David Bearl, an American Culinary Federation—certified chef. Bearl made a fruit salad, salmon dish, and vegetarian quesadillas. “People loved it,” Perron says.

The demonstration is part of a continuing Florida Organic Growers series called Eat With the Seasons. The cooking demonstrations are taking place this year at 24 markets across the state that partner with the Family Nutrition Program to accept SNAP.

The program was so successful in Englewood that the market will continue cooking demonstrations on the third Thursday of each month through the rest of the season, Perron says.

The chefs in the program are given money to buy ingredients at the market and then prepare their item onsite. “The recipes act as a shopping list for people at the market,” Perron says.

The Englewood Farmers’ Market is held on Thursday mornings from October to May, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the 300 block of W. Dearborn Street. Learn more at englewoodfarmersmarket.org

OTHER MARKETS PARTICIPATE IN SNAP

In addition to Englewood Farmers’ Market, five other local markets are stretching food dollars for SNAP participants. Local markets that accept SNAP are Bradenton Farmers’ Market, Central Sarasota Farmers’ Market, Englewood Farmers’ Market, North Port Farmers’ Market, Punta Gorda Farmers’ Market, and Venice Farmers’ Market.

Venice Farmers’ Market Manager Linda Wilson regularly visits local nonprofit groups and food distribution centers to let people know they can come to her market and use SNAP to eat healthy food and support Florida farmers. “Our market is open year-round, and people have to eat year-round,” she says.

“SNAP is a win-win program designed to help the small Floridian farmer as well as those less fortunate on food stamps,” says Jerry Presseller, manager of both the North Port and Punta Gorda markets.

EES Gardens

EES Gardens 1Check out the gardens at EES planted with donations from Englewood Farmers Market vendor Dufour Family Farm. Thank you Vaughn Dufour!

Each class, K through 5th grade has their own raised bed to plant and nurture. Now you know why they say that Englewood Elementary is a “Good Place to Grow!”

Eat Near: Double-your-SNAP program coming to two local farmers’ markets

snap-sarasota3
Kim Dart points out a fresh fruit tray to her daughter, Amanda Dart, at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market, circa 2007 / E. SKYLAR LITHERLAND

The Fresh Access Bucks program sure sounds like a win-win. It allows recipients of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars to double the value of their benefits by purchasing Florida-grown organic produce at local farmers’ markets. Win one: for the low-income individuals who rely on SNAP to feed their families. Win two: for farmers who suddenly gain access to a whole new customer base. And it’s coming soon to Sarasota County, with at least two local farmers’ markets working to set up the infrastructure needed to participate.

Florida Organic Growers first launched the program in January 2013 after the nonprofit won a grant from the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and it’s already spread from Miami-Dade to Duval to Alachua and Pinellas and more. It works like this: If you’re a SNAP recipient, just swipe your EBT card at a farmers’ market machine. In return, you’ll receive tokens that can be redeemed just like cash at participating market vendors. And if you’re buying Florida-grown organic produce, you can double your money and get, say, $40 worth of fruits and vegetables with just $20 from your card.
Fresh Access Bucks have proven enormously popular, says Florida Organic Growers Community Food Project Coordinator Carmen Franz. In 2013, the program brought 1,247 new shoppers to participating markets, generating almost $69,000 in revenue for Florida farmers. Nationally, the number of SNAP recipients participating in similar programs jumped from 20,000 in 2010 to 40,000 in 2012.
While the original goal of the Florida grant was to have 20 participating markets online by the end of 2014, Franz says that goal is well within sight, and will likely be surpassed, with at least two Sarasota County markets joining the fold. Managers with the dormant North Sarasota market, which will be rebooted (tentatively) on Sat., May 3, are being trained on the program soon, and the Englewood Farmer’s Market will be ready to accept EBT cards in about a month.
“It’s a terrific incentive program,” says Lee Perron, who manages the Englewood market. They’re working on getting their EBT terminal up and running after beginning the application process with the USDA six months ago. Perron expects the reaction from vendors at the market will be “ecstatic” — ditto for SNAP recipients. “You’re not going to have better access to nutritious products,” he says.
One misconception about SNAP recipients is that they’re all unemployed, Franz says. In fact, the large majority are “people who are working that are making ends meet that need a little bit of assistance.”
“If you work full-time at minimum wage, you’re below the poverty line,” she points out. In 2011, almost 44,000 Sarasota County residents received more than $66 million in SNAP benefits.
Not all markets are crazy about the program. The extra manpower involved can sometimes be too much for maxed-out market managers, and some simply don’t want a SNAP-reliant clientele, Franz says. “There’s a lot of discrimination against people who get SNAP.”
But according to Franz, both the Venice Farmer’s Market and the Old Miakka Farmers Market have also expressed interest in Fresh Access Bucks. Franz says she’d love to involve the downtown Sarasota Farmer’s Market, which is directly adjacent to a central bus terminal, perfect for those who rely on public transportation. Phil Pagano, the executive director of the Sarasota market, says his organization has toyed with the idea of setting up an EBT system for years, but would need additional staff to handle the work. He says he’s open to considering signing up with Fresh Access Bucks if his board supports it.
While market managers can sometimes be reluctant to join in, Franz says, the vendors themselves generally want to participate. “They’re excited about having new customers,” she says. “It makes them more balanced and includes the entire community.”
 

“Jingle Bell Rock” Flash Mob

You never know what can happen at our market… Happy Holidays Market Style… Flash Mob. The “Englewood Yoga Center” flash mob, took the market by suprise today with “Jingle Bell Rock” !!!

EFM Gives back to the Community

stdavischeckThe Englewood Farmers Market was conceived as a project by the community and for the community.

Beginning in October, the Englewood Farmer’s Market and EC4S will donate $500.00 per month for each of the seven months the market is in operation to St. David’s Episcopal Church located here in Englewood . The money is specifically designated to be used for their food pantry program that feeds hundreds of needy families each month. In addition, St. David’s also has a backpack program that provides two backpacks per month for around 60 children. The food is used on weekends by the children.
With the addition of their new Jubilee Center , St. David’s also offers shelter for up to 20 individuals a night when weather conditions turn severe. The entire operation is run by Pat Knox who performs an incredible job at St. David’s, day in and day out. She has compassion for those in need and realizes that especially when there are families involved it is critical that the children have enough food to eat.
A number of the EFM vendors will also donate food products to St. David’s at the end of each market. “It’s a great way to help and give back to our community by partnering with St. David’s Food Pantry” stated Don Musilli, Chair for EC4S. A special presentation to St. David’s Episcopal Church is scheduled at this week’s Englewood Farmer’s Market, 300 block of W. Dearborn St. , on Thursday October 25th at 11:00 AM. For more information please contact Mr. Lee Perron, Market Manager, at 941 548-7843 or @ lee.perron@comcast.net

Our donation to St. David’s Food Pantry is token of our appreciation for your support. Thank you Englewood for supporting and making our market a success.