Englewood’s farmers market opens to crowds

By STEVE REILL (Englewood Sun – STAFF WRITER)

A sure sign that autumn has arrived in Englewood is its Thursday farmers market.

Lee Perron, manager for the nonprofit Englewood, Venice and new North Port markets, anticipated 2,000 to 2,500 shoppers to visit vendors by the 2 p.m. closing time Thursday.

“That’s a good opening,” Perron said. Wednesday, opening day the North Port farmers market — located at CoolToday Park, the Atlanta Braves Spring Training facility, 18800 South West Villages Parkway — saw 2,000 to 2,500 people turn out.

In November 2011, the first day of the Englewood Farmer’s Market saw 17 vendors, 21 booths and attracted 1,500 people. Now there’s more than 56 vendors at the market — and that doesn’t count the markets that sprung up around Englewood’s downtown and are piggybacking on the success of the original nonprofit market.

“We’ve heard nothing bad about Englewood,” said Anthony Sessa of the Fort Myers-based The Pasta Machine, a new vendor at the Englewood Farmers Market.

For Stevie Banks, the drive from North Port was worth it.

“There’s so many different (vendors),” she said.

Rosibel Malheiro sells jewelry and women’s wear at one of the smaller markets at the corner of South Orange Avenue and West Dearborn Street. She’s been coming Thursdays from Sarasota to the Englewood markets for several years.

“I like the people — and it’s quiet,” Malheiro said. Email: steve.reilly@yoursun.com

Hernandez Produce
The Plant City-based Hernandez Farm Produce owners Lucia Hernandez and her husband, Artemio, never miss selling their produce at the annual Englewood Farmers Market every Thursday until May. (SUN PHOTO BY STEVE REILLY)

Englewood Farmers Market ready to sprout new season

By STEVE REILLY, Staff Writer, The Englewood Sun

ENGLEWOOD — Even Lee Perron never imagined the Englewood Farmers Market would be as successful as it is.

“I’ve been really busy,” Perron said Friday. Not surprising.

The Englewood market will be back 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Oct. 3 and every Thursday after that until May on the 300 block of West Dearborn Street at the Pioneer Plaza.

In 2011, Perron imagined it to become a small community market on West Dearborn Street with local growers and vendors selling fresh produce and other commodities. According to Sun reports, in November 2011, the opening day of the Englewood Farmer’s Market saw 17vendors, 21 booths and attracted 1,500 people.

Now, Perron, the manager of the nonprofit market, said more than 80 vendors are on a waiting list and the market attracted 8,000 or more people regularly last year. The Englewood Farmers Market now is also attracting the interest of growers from Florida’s East Coast and elsewhere in the state, something Perron never expected.

This year, the market will see 56 vendors with four new “rock stars” — a French baker, cut flower and professional floral arranger, fresh pasta maker and an “old country” Greek yogurt maker, Perron said.

The success of the Englewood Farmers Market even impressed Atlanta Braves representatives who asked Perron to start up and manage a similar nonprofit market. The seasonal West Villages Market will operate Wednesdays from October through March, at the Atlanta Braves Spring Training Facility, 18800 S. West Villages Parkway.

Many of the same vendors intend to sell their wares at both the West Villages and Englewood markets. Perron does not see the two markets competing with each other, but rather, they will complement each other. He also manages the nonprofit farmers market Saturday mornings at the Venice City Hall.

Citing the growth in West Villages and North Port that the Villages Farmers Market could serve, Perron suggested the Englewood market shouldn’tlose customers nor vendors, but will level out to what can be handled and provide positive experiences for both customers and vendors.

Jessica McDowell, of Rhoads Produce in Englewood
Jessica McDowell, of Rhoads Produce in Englewood, stands by near the many produce on sale at last year’s Englewood Farmers Market. Organizers are getting ready to reopen Oct. 3 at 300 W. Dearborn St.

The success of the Englewood Farmers Market can be measured by how it helps others.

As a nonprofit under the tax-exempt status of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, the Englewood Farmers Market contributed more than $84,000 to local charities and other nonprofits from 2011 to 2018. 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. Email: Steve.Reilly@yoursun.com

Lee Peron, Market Manager
Lee Perron is manager of the Englewood Farmer’s Market on Englewood’s West Dearborn Street. He’s ready to reopen the weekly market on Oct. 3.

TWEAKING ENGLEWOOD’S FARMERS MARKETS

County could require subtracting arts vendors, adding more food
By STEVE REILLY – STAFF WRITER

ENGLEWOOD — Sarasota County is seeking a new balance for Englewood’s farmers markets.

County commissioners will consider changing a county ordinance that will limit the number of arts and crafts, jewelry, health and health services, and other non-food vendors to only 25 percent of the total number of vendors. The discussion is set for Nov. 6.

If the ordinance is changed, 75 percent of the remaining vendors must sell vegetables, honey and cheeses, spices, coffees or any other food product, including artisan and prepared foods. The county ordinance now allows a 50-50 split to the products sold at farmers markets.

Farmers markets are held along West Dearborn Street on Thursdays from October to May.

The nonprofit Englewood Farmer’s Market was the first in Englewood, opening eight years ago at the Pioneer Plaza on the 300 block of West Dearborn. Joyce Colmar opened her for-profit Dearborn Street Market across the street. Since then other smaller markets have been sprouting up along and around West Dearborn.

Englewood’s Community Redevelopment Agency staff has been meeting with market managers in an ongoing discussion to devise a reasonable formula and methodology for determining enforcement. The call for the modification of the farmers markets, CRA manager Debbie Marks said, came from various brickand- mortar Dearborn merchants who felt that the arts and other non-produce vendors undermined their businesses last year.

To define the ratio of vendors at the markets, the managers and CRA discussed Tuesday how a 10-by-10-foot space could equate to one unit of vendor’s space.

“I have vendors who are paying for five booths,” Colmar said.

Will that affect the ratio of food to non-food vendors?

And how will county code enforcement determine who is or isn’t in compliance, Englewood Farmer’s Market manager Lee Perron asked.

“It’s a math thing.

Zeros and ones. Either it is or isn’t (in compliance),” Perron said.

Marks suggested a county official could visit a particular market and determine whether the market is meeting the guidelines at the outset of the season. Reporting any subsequent changes would be the responsibility of the managers, she said.

“We need to support our locals first and foremost,” DonnaMarie Lee said.

Lee manages a small farmers market Thursdays, but she also is co-owner of Bobarino’s Pizzeria on Magnolia Avenue at West Dearborn.

“We need to focus on our town first, community first,” she said.

“Then we can bring in the extras.”

Email: reilly@sun-herald.com

Other Market
Like the other markets on West Dearborn Street Thursday, Joyce Colmar’s Dearborn Street Market saw a large crowd on its opening day.

Jimmy Java
Autumn Glick prepares a cup of Cape Coral-based coffee roaster Jimmy Java’s cold-brew coffee at one of the various farmers markets on West Dearborn Street. It’s Jimmy Java’s first time in Englewood and Glick said Jimmy’s Java will return.

SUN PHOTOS BY STEVE REILLY

ENGLEWOOD FARMERS MARKET BIG SEASON OPENING

By STEVE REILLY – STAFF WRITER

ENGLEWOOD — Autumn Glick was impressed with “the magnitude of the various vendors” at the farmer’s markets on West Dearborn Street Thursday.

“And it’s a nice crowd,” said Glick, who served coffee for the Cape Coralbased coffee roaster Jimmy’s Java which travels to various farmer’s markets. Thursday was Jimmy Java’s first day in Englewood, the largest and most diverse of the farmer’s markets they’ve attended.

Expect Jimmy Java to be back next Thursday, Glick said.

The nonprofit Englewood Farmer’s Market Manager Lee Perron suspected Thursday morning the market’s opening day may have been its biggest. He was right. More than 3,200 people strolled through the market Thursday, a record for an opening day, he said.

The nonprofit market was the first in Englewood and opened eight years ago at the Pioneer Plaza on the 300 block of West Dearborn. Since then, it led to other similar markets to spring up around it, including Joyce Colmar’s for-profit Dearborn Street Market across the street from the nonprofit market.

Prior to the opening day for the farmer’s market, which is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday, Perron said he heard “a buzz around town” looking forward to its reopening. The market is also filled to capacity with 58 vendors — and that doesn’t count the numerous vendors at Colmar’s or the other smaller markets.

Chef Ef Martinez, who owned several restaurants in New York City before moving to Venice, prepared paella at the farmer’s market and sold “Cordon Oro, all-purpose seasoning.” It’s his third year at the market. Like Perron, Martinez thought the market saw a goodsized opening crowd Thursday.

Les Bernstein, a Olde Englewood Village Association board member, said the farmer’s markets attracted a “good crowd.” He also noticed new vendors selling their wares on Dearborn Thursday.

Bernstein owns the brick-and-mortar Rehab on Dearborn, vintage and collectibles shop just west of the farmer’s market. He could not say whether all the merchants benefit from the farmer’s markets, but he did know the markets bring additional foot traffic up and down West Dearborn.

Email: reilly@sun-herald.com

jimmy java
Autumn Glick prepares a cup of Cape Coral-based coffee roaster Jimmy Java’s cold-brew coffee at the one of the various farmer’s markets on West Dearborn Street Thursday. It’s Jimmy Java’s first time in Englewood and Glick said Jimmy’s Java will be back next Thursday.

Other Market
Like the other markets on West Dearborn Street Thursday, Joyce Colmar’s Dearborn Street Market saw a large crowd on its opening day.

photos by Steve Reilly