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.|