New Vendors and Extended Hours

Due to popular demand the Englewood Farmer’s Market has extended its hours to 2pm every Thrusday. We hope that the additional hour will provide more flexibilty for working people to have a chance to shop. And to make it even easier, we added a new vendor, Pitatopia, who sells freshly made breakfast and lunch pitas… ready to eat while shopping.

Since last week we have added 7 new vendors, for a grand total of 36. The new vendors are Pitatopia (mentioned above), Kokokahn (Handcrafted essential oils, balms & sprays), Sift Bakehouse (Artesian cookies, scones, biscotti & more), Olive Oils of the World (Artesian olive oils and balsamic vinegar), Omega-3 Innovations (innovative omega-3 rich products), Tropical Island Exotic Plants (Bromeliads, pitcher plants, ferns & more), Precision Edge (Professional knife & tool sharpening).


Ernst: Business buzz from unlikely source — a farmer’s market

Patrons shop Dec. 29 at the Englewood Farmer’s Market along the 300 block of Dearborn Street in downtown Englewood. More than two dozen vendors are participating in the market, which is open Thursdays from 9 to 2.

Business districts love a buzz, and Englewood’s Dearborn Street area has had one going for about two months.

The buzz emanates from an unlikely source: a farmers’ market. The market is open about four hours once a week on a Sarasota County lot on Dearborn just west of Mango Street.

Everyone has been talking about it since it debuted on Nov. 3 with 18 vendors. About 1,500 people showed up then, leading some veteran sellers to declare it the best opening day ever.

Word spread quickly — not only among people longing for home-grown produce and other local products — but also among vendors. On the Thursday before Christmas, a crowd of about 2,000 strolled among 38 booths, buying sausage from Bailey’s Butcher Shop, strawberries from Hernandez Farm Produce and rain barrels from Mother’s Garden Products.

“It’s awesome, just incredible, a lot more than we expected,” says Vaughn Dufour, who with his brother Dean comprises The Herb Guys.

“People are here to buy,” Dufour adds. That’s an interesting distinction. Dufour says his Englewood sales equal those at the Saturday farmers’ market in Sarasota, which attracts crowds of 5,000 or more.

“It’s almost as if people were starving for a farmer’s market,” Dean Dufour says. “They keep saying, ‘Please come back.’ They appreciate it.”

As a measure of its success, the market, starting this week, will extend its closing time an extra hour to operate from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays.

The novelty has probably played a part in the market’s popularity. But then again, this was an idea long overdue and well-executed. Credit for the latter goes to the Englewood Center for Sustainability, an offshoot of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, and based in the county Deltec buildings near Buchan Airfield.

The idea and original push came from Marie Laforge, co-owner of Mango Bistro. She envisioned a market to recognize Dearborn Street’s status as the center of town. Through networking among neighborhood and business associations, the sustainability center picked up the concept and ran with it.

Lee Perron deserves some credit, too. As an unpaid center member, he’s spending about 30 hours a week practicing the half-art, half-science of running a farmers’ market. He’s in charge of quality control. He makes sure vendor products don’t overlap too much. He plots out booth locations. He juggles emails and phone calls and does all the paperwork.

If nothing else, the market is drawing 1,500 or so people to Dearborn Street each week, many of whom would not otherwise go there. It’s too early to gauge the effects, but Perron predicts that over time it is sure to help the businesses along the street.

As the center explains on its website, sustainability means more than just adopting green practices. It refers to an approach that sustains the overall well-being of a community, recognizing the environmental, economic and social dimensions.

The sustainability center has another equally well-executed project going: a community garden behind the Deltec buildings.

Center members, among them garden coordinator Lou Taft of Englewood, visited community gardens from North Port to Sarasota to determine what works and what doesn’t. They came up with a layout of about 20 plots, averaging 10-by-10 feet, and all were claimed within 90 minutes.

Gardening started in October with soil prep and some rules: Everyone chips in on the occasional work days; no commercial fertilizers; no pesticides. When it comes to bugs, “We do a lot of picking and squishing,” Taft says. It’s a true organic garden. Water comes from cisterns that catch rainfall off the building roof. Gardeners have to carry it to their plots.

They’ve run out of water a few times. They’ve had their share of failures, notably cucumbers and squash. But they’ve got enough growing well to announce a grand opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The gardeners have harvested respectable heads of lettuce. And the broccoli — well, it’s practically producing more than its tenders can consume. In a pinch, they know where they can sell it on Thursdays. Now that’s sustainability.

Eric Ernst’s column runs Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Contact him at“> or (941) 486-3073.



Whenever my dearest friend Heide Yager would come over to a party or dinner she would
alway asks what she could bring and I always would tell her to bring these carrots. They are
incredible and are delicious served either at room temperature or chilled .

moroccan-carrot-saladServes: 6 as a side dish.

1 pound carrots
2 cups of orange juice
1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespooon chopped cilantro or flat leaved parsley , Heide uses the parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)
1/2 teas salt
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

Peel carrots and slice them diagonally into thin, 1/4 inch rounds. Place them in a medium sized
pot and add the 2 cups of orange juice to cover carrots. Simmer on low heat for about 10
minutes or until just tender (still al dente). Remove from heat , drain, and cool to room
temperature. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss the carrots with the dressing.


Englewood Farmers Market

The new Englewood Farmers Market was so well received that most vendors were sold out by noon on their first day.   


Maggie and Gary Balch, owners of Maggie’s Seafood show their fresh New England seafood to customer Joe Doniak.

Nobody was more surprised than Wayne Dancer of Port Charlotte who has been selling his produce in farmers markets in Collier County, Sarasota County, and Charlotte County for over 15 years. He had never seen such an incredible opening day and vowed to triple the amount of organic vegetables he would be bringing to Englewood in the future. Organic vegetables are, of course, much more expensive to grow. Gardeners using pesticides may spray nine types of pesticides on their crops. The organic products cost the grower three times as much, but are free of pesticides and very popular.    Don Musilli is active with the Englewood Center for Sustainability, a chapter of the Friends of the Sarasota County Parks. He was amazed at how fast the idea of starting a Farmers Market at Pioneer Park grew. Only a handful of people were involved in the planning when it began only months ago.

No one was really in charge, according to Don Musilli, but all had great ideas. So far the Farmers Market committee includes: Mango Bistro owners Marie LaForge and Ricardo Ruggiero, Debbie Marks of the CRA, Don and Janet Landis, Lee Peron, Elaine Miller, Mike Hutchinson and Elsie Quirk Library Manager Jennifer Perry.   

The Englewood Farmers Market can be found on Historic Dearborn Street at Pioneer Park located next to Mango Bistro Restaurant from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday.    They feature local and organic produce, fresh seafood, fresh German Bread, homemade pies, gluten free baked goods, Bonsai trees, local honey, candied nuts, orchids, homemade soups, fresh herbs, cupcakes, kettle corn and gourmet French dishes. A popular booth offers plants and herbs for A brilliant array of poincettia greet holiday shoppers at the Community Haven booth at the Englewood Farmers Market.   

Sky Stockton assists Owner Wayne “Majic” Dancer
at his weekly produce stand
at the Englewood Farmers Market

Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities, Inc. is a non-profit, 57- yearold organization that offers adults and children with disabilities an opportunity to learn skills needed to gain employment and become fully included in the mainstream community

. Carolyn J. Marchbank, Plant Nursery Manager, oversees the program. At the Englewood Farmers Market shoppers can purchase house plants or shrubbery and help to support the first “Green”group home in Florida.   

To learn more about Community Haven call 941-355-8808 or checkout their website at .    “Approximately eight to 10 vendors a week apply for space to display their wares,” Don Musilli explained, “We are very selective and strive to offer a variety of goods for sale. Vendors must be licensed and insured.

We currently have 32 booths rented every week and will eventually fill 50.” The organizers plan to use the Sustainability Booth located at the front entrance for cooking demonstrations and other live presentations in the future.    Presently live entertainment is offered to enhance a festive atmosphere while shoppers browse.   

For information and directions to the Englewood Farmers Market call 941-548-7843 or check out their website at or email

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.
For more information, go to:

You can also email:“> or“> or
call 941-548-7843