Farmers market debuts on Dearborn Street

ENGLEWOOD — By 11:30 a.m. Thursday, about 1,000 people had passed through the new Englewood farmers market on Dearborn Street, checking out produce, seafood, herbs and flowers at 23 vendors’ booths. Englewood resident Jeanne Fox strolled through the grassy Pioneer Park smiling as people shopped around her. “This is the greatest thing ever — what wonderful produce,” Fox said. “I can’t wait to come back next week.” Don Musilli, co-chairman of the Englewood Center for Sustainability and an organizer of the event, said the turnout
was phenomenal.

“This is amazing, it’s being so well received by the people, it’s everything we hoped it would be,” he said. Wayne Dancer, a produce vendor from Port Charlotte, said the successful turnout proves that all the hard work organizers put into planning the event paid off. “This is exactly what Englewood needs,” he said.

In the spirit of sustainability, many people walked or rode bikes to the market.

Jim Dembrowski, owner of Tropical Island Foods in Punta Gorda, handed out samples of kettle corn to guests while
they watched a new batch being prepared. “We have tables at other markets in the area, but this is the only weekday one, so we plan on being here for the next several months,” he said. Having a weekday market was crucial to its success, said Lee Perron, who helped organize it.
“If you want the topquality vendors then you need a weekday market,” Perron said. “They’re just not available on
Friday, Saturday and Sunday.” Carolyn Marchbank, manager of Community Haven Plant Nursery, was one of those vendors.
Community Haven is a nonprofit organization that does vocational training for the disabled on a 32-acre campus in
Sarasota. “I found out two days ago about this market,” she said. “Almost every customer has told me they’re so happy we’re
here. We do a lot of markets. This one is awesome.” A week ago, market organizers expected 12 vendors. Twice as many showed up Thursday and more are applying. “Vendors told us this was the best opening market day they’ve ever had,” Perron said. “The success was driven by the
community and the pent-up demand for a farmers market.” Shoppers chose from fresh-baked goods, nuts and dried fruits as well as more exotic items such as kits to start an organic worm garden.  Chefs from the European Bakery and Deli in Lehigh Acres had a table with stone-oven-baked Bavarian breads, pretzels, pastries and cakes. Carrie and Fred Dula are the mother-and-son owners of Come Under the Yum Yum Tree Produce in Sarasota. “We’re happy with the produce we’ve sold,” she said. “The atmosphere’s good too,” he added. The Dulas brought tomatoes and cucumbers from Ruskin, watermelons and cantaloupes from Myakka and lots more — 80 percent of their produce is from local farms, Fred said. Many who attended the market brought their four-legged friends on leashes.

Some of the vendors were sold out or nearly depleted by noon.

Russ Kyper of Englewood was among those who showed up Thursday. “It’s a great thing for Dearborn but also something that was needed,” he said. Terra Tominelli, founder of the eco-friendly TerraNichol Academy of the Arts had a table set up and passed out literature about the Englewood school where she teaches green principles to preschoolers and their parents. “I plan to be here every week,” she said. “It goes along with the eco-philosophy that we have at the school. It was a great addition to the community.”

For some, the farmers market was their first time on Dearborn Street, Musilli said.

The Dearborn farmers markets will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays through May.
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call 941-548-7843

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