From my business partner Visit Sarasota:
Looking for fresh produce, artisan baked goods, the finest flowers, and unique art? Then look no further than one of the many farmers markets found right here in Sarasota County. At any time of year, the area’s commitment to supporting local food and craft vendors is evident at these vibrant markets.
Here’s the skinny on some of the area’s most popular farmers markets:
Englewood Farmers Market
Arrive early to this bustling market in downtown Englewood, and you’ll find nearly 60 hand-picked vendors just waiting to offer you samples of salsa, kettle corn, citrus, baked goods, paella, and much more. The market attracts a quality mix of vendors both from Sarasota and the surrounding more rural areas—for example, Joshua Citrus in Arcadia and Venus Veggies in Venus. So, the market offers even more Florida-grown items. Market attendees enjoying Florida’s produce bounty in the fall and winter leisurely stroll around the market, listen to live music (including a recent surprise ukulele group appearance), and talk about the unexpected foodie finds—like a mushroom business called Mr. Fun Guy. Get it? Sounds like “fungi.”
Lots of people leave with plastic or reusable shopping bags filled with produce, lunch, and fresh flowers.
Englewood Farmers Market also accepts SNAP, which is short for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Through a special program called Fresh Access Bucks, SNAP participants can double their food dollars if they spend them on Florida-grown produce items.
For a real taste of old Florida, head on over to Nokomis Groves at 111 Albee Farm Road to see just what a citrus grove has to offer. The citrus business has long been a mainstay of Florida agriculture, bringing the sweet taste of Florida orange juice around the U.S. and globally. Nokomis Groves has been part of the citrus industry since 1948. A delightful citrus smell will reach your nose as soon as you park your car. Pick up a bushel of Florida oranges or grapefruit, and sample a variety of citrus and juices. You’ll also brush up on Florida food culture in the retail shop, which sells Florida honey, jams, jellies, candies, and sauces. (If you need a pencil with a plastic alligator on top, you can find it at Nokomis Groves.) In season, you can watch workers process oranges while you shop. Right outside the retail shop, Nokomis Groves sells ice cream seven days a week, and you’ll find it hard to resist a vanilla and orange twist.
Phillippi Farmhouse Market
We all need a midweek pick-me-up, and that’s just what you can get at Phillippi Farmhouse Market, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail, held on Wednesdays. Some of the area’s best-known food and farming businesses participate at the Phillippi market, including Sarasota Honey Company (famous for its small-batch honey), Geraldson Community Farm, Brown’s Grove, and PopCraft pops. Yet the vendor mix also includes some great florists, artists, and ready-made food vendors. There’s even a spa among the many vendors.
Sarasota Farmers Market
The Sarasota Farmers Market, held on Saturdays in downtown Sarasota, is considered the granddaddy of the local farmers markets, as it’s been around more than 35 years and features 70-plus vendors. The market is a major draw for residents and tourists looking to catch an early morning bite or a midday meal while they also stock up on locally grown produce and baked goods. Just about any type of food you want can be found there—barbecue, lemonade, seafood, crepes, raw food, sushi, and plenty more. The Sarasota Farmers Market also has a cool health-oriented bent with vendors such as Sarafresh Juice, which sells cold-pressed juice; and Simply Organix, which offers sprouts and micro-greens. It’d be hard to leave the market without visited Peperonata Pasta, where you can buy fresh-made pasta, focaccia, and empanadas.
Siesta Key Farmers Market
Many visits are lured to the Sarasota area because of the award-winning beaches like Siesta Key. So why not combine beaches with a love of locally produced food and craft items? That’s just what you can do at the Siesta Key Farmers Market, held on Sundays in Siesta Key Village. From organic produce to plants and locally produced food, this market has a little bit of everything.
Venice Farmers Market
A Saturday trip to the town of Venice just isn’t complete without a visit to the Venice Farmers Market, where you can nosh on kettle corn, buy grass-fed Florida beef, try a smoothie from Island Organics, and, of course, buy Florida-grown fruits and veggies. Yet the Venice Market also includes information on animal adoption, features various nonprofit groups, and has a kids’ corner once a month with special activities for the little ones. The Venice Farmers Market also accepts SNAP benefits.
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