Englewood Farmer’s Market has the energy and vibe of something new and fresh, and it is. The market only started in November of last year and only after
Marie Laforge, who owns Mango’s Restaurant on Dearborn Street, talked to vendors at other farmer’s markets and learned that there was a huge interest in
having another market on a weekday. By visiting other markets, the Englewood market’s organizers were able to handpick vendors to get a variety of local products.
“We weren’t sure how it would go, but on the first day we had more than 1,200 customers and a lot of vendors were out of products before it was over,” said market manager Don Musilli.
Vendors, many of whom sell at several other markets from Tampa to Naples, praise how well the Englewood market is organized and managed, especially for being so new.
PJ’s Nuts is one vendor that sells at nine markets from Marco Island to Sarasota. “We’re impressed with the selection of vendors in this market, and the enthusiasm of the shoppers,” said Jay Kelly, who owns PJ’s with his wife Pat. PJ’s sells nuts, dried food, edible seed and mixtures, granola, energy bars and some gluten-free products.
Woof ‘n Purr sells food products, too, but for pets. Ellie Simonetti is the owner and chief cook” of products like “Chicken Biscuits,” “Callie Cat Tuna Crackers” and “Yip Yap Banana Snacks.” All are made with no salt, sugar or preservatives and incorporate a variety of textures so older animals, who may not have teeth, can have snacks, too. They also make all-natural grooming products. “People are pleasantly surprised to see us,” Simonetti said.
Lou Rindner, a local resident, has been selling his bonsai trees on the internet since 1997. He got into farmer’s markets when a Sarasota market asked him to give lessons on making bonsai trees once a month. The response was so great that he now participates in nine markets, including Englewood. “Having a market off the weekend is great,” he said.
Vendor Maggie’s Seafood sells fresh local grouper, snapper, swordfish, mahi-mahi, “and fish we get from the north because the snowbirds want it,” said owner Maggie Balch. They also sell homemade crab cakes, soups and seafood pies.
Daniel Bouvier has been growing wheat grass, sprouts and micro-greens for his own use for eight years and has been selling them to others for two years. He recommends grinding wheat grass into juice for its vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidant benefits.
For something really different, don’t miss Green Leaf Worm Farm. Their 100 percent organic fertilizer and insecticide is made from earth worms and can be used on all plants without the burning that often occurs from synthetic products.
“We’re a green business, so all the bottles we use were recycled and donated,” said owner Sean Moore.
Although they go to five markets, brothers Vaughn and Dean DuFour say they have encountered the friendliest, most appreciative people at the Englewood market. “They often thank us for being there,” they said. The DuFours sell mostly herbs but also starter vegetable plants in season. All are started in compost, fertilized with organic materials, and are pesticide-free.
American Paradise Produce in Port Charlotte has been selling produce in the area for more than 40 years. Wayne Dancer and Sky Stockton go to 13 markets. “We see more little children with their parents in Englewood, and it’s nice to know they’re eating healthy,” Dancer said. Hernandez Farm from Plant City and Yum Yum Tree Produce from Sarasota also sell at the Englewood Farmer’s Market.
The market has no shortage of dessert and snack vendors either. Nino’s Italian Bakery, German Bakery and Sugar Island Cupcakes are just a few of the sweet-treat sellers. Tropical Island Foods, which sells their Kettle Korn at the Punta Gorda and Englewood markets, has found a way to make their treat healthier. Made with soybean oil, their Kettle Korn has no trans fat, no cholesterol, and just 143 calories per two-cup serving while retaining all the taste and just the right amount of sweet and salt. Husband and wife owners Carol Turner and Jim Dembrowski have made the Korn in Punta Gorda since 2003 and will soon open a factory there.
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