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Venice Farmers Market to relocate

Date of move to new venue near City Hall depends on street reconstruction

By Earle Kimel (earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com)

VENICE — Like so much in downtown Venice this summer, plans to move the Venice Farmers Market from its current home on Tampa Avenue to Avenue des Parques near City Hall hinge on when the downtown street reconstruction project begins.

“We’re in the process of identifying which Saturday, which week would be the best for us to make the move,” said Lee Perron, who managesthe market on behalf of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks.

Perron met recently with Assistant City Manager Len Bramble to finalize the site plan for the market along Avenue des Parques. Part of that plan includes the city’s installing conduit and providing additional electrical outlets on the edges of the parking lot at Venice City Hall for vendor to use

A recent cover photo from the Venice Farmers Market Facebook page. Lee Perron, who manages the market on behalf of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, anticipates moving the market from the 200 block of Tampa Avenue to Avenue des Parques near City Hall in the latter half of June.

 

Meanwhile the Venice City Council finally defined the scope of work on the $8.3 million reconstruction of Venice, Tampa and Miami avenues at its May 22 meeting.

A timetable should be set at a preconstruction meeting Tuesday, though City Engineer Kathleen Weeden said actual street closings may not happen until the week of July 9.

Depending on how things go, Perron anticipates moving the market from the 200 block of Tampa Avenue in the latter half of June. Off-season hours started in May, so the market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon through December.

“I think everything is falling into place very very nicely,” Perron said. “We’re exactly where we need to be right now.”

Perron and the Friends of Sarasota County Parks took over operation of the market last July, following the retirement of longtime market manager Linda Wilson.

The past year the market grew to feature as many as 50 vendors, offering a variety of food and wares — including baked goods, international foods and a cheese monger.

Perron said that customer volume at the market grew about 30 percent this past season.

In 2016, the market’s high volume was about 3,200 people per week. In March, the average was 5,000 people per week.

After season, the number of vendors traditionally decreases, but this year 45 vendors plan to stay on through the summer.

“All but five of our vendors said they had such a great winter in season that they wanted to stay,” Perron said. “That really makes it a much more vibrant market.”

The hope is that fewer Venice residents will trek up to downtown Sarasota for their fresh produce needs, because the local market will offer plenty of variety.

“They’re going to have all the choices that they want right there in the city,” Perron said.

VENICE FARMERS MARKER CELEBRATES 20th ANNIVERSARY

Contact:  Lee A. Perron 941-445-9209
Email: info@thevenicefarmersmarket.org 

The Venice Farmers Market celebrates its 20th Anniversary this season by adding an exciting new line-up of all star vendors.  Starting this month the VFM will be adding over a dozen new vendors in the food space. Don’t miss our new fresh and organic Florida farmers Venus Veggies and Fresh Harvest, our four new bakers; French baker JC’s Daily Bread, Sarasota’s own Sift Bakehouse and Five-O donuts, Nona’s Holy Canolli and Island Gluten Free Bakery, along with local gourmet butcher Beef Country and our new artisan cheese monger Stamper Cheese to name just a few.  In addition, you’ll see live cooking demos every week with Master Chef Chasky. Chef Chasky will be creating and featuring recipes made with fresh ingredients purchased that morning from the market vendors for both tasting and take away meals!

As part of our mission to support local farmers and an initiative with our SNAP and Fresh Access Bucks double dollars program, we’re thrilled to be adding Florida organic farmers and a fantastic group of food artisans to the Venice market this season” stated market manager Lee Perron.

As a non-profit farmers market that donates its proceeds back to the local community, we’re honored to have the opportunity to give back to the Venice community in ways that add value to the quality of life for our local residents.

The Venice Farmers Market is open every Saturday year around from 8 AM – 12 Noon on the 200 Block of Tampa Avenue W. in historic downtown Venice on the island.

For more information please check out our website @ www.thevenicefarmersmarket.org or contact Lee Perron via e-mail @ info@thevenicefarmersmarket.org  or phone (941) 445-9209.

Markets Keep Things Fresh

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VENICE ROCKS THE DOWNTOWN VENICE FARMERS MARKET!

Please plan to join us this Saturday, August 5, 2017 from 9 to 11 AM at the Venice Farmers Market in the 200 Block of Tampa Avenue W., for a FREE ROCK PAINTING event for children of all ages hosted by Venice Rocks.
Venice Rocks is the brainchild of Garden Elementary art teacher Joanna Davis and is part of the rock painting craze going viral across the internet.
Free rocks and art supplies will be provided by White Cement Specialties, Bespoke Cabinet Design and Mermaids Design Studio.
The rock painting theme will be Florida fresh fruits and vegetables! Once painted the rocks can be “secretly” placed around Centennial Park for a surprise discovery!
So load up the kids and head on down to the Venice Rocks family fun event this Saturday at the Venice Farmers Market.

For more information contact Lee Perron via e-mail: info@thevenicefarmersmarket.org or by phone (941) 445-9202.
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NEW MANAGER TAKES OVER THE VENICE FARMERS MARKET

By Earle Kimel (Staff Writer/Herald Tribune)

Linda Wilson retired this month.

VENICE — The Friends of Sarasota County Parks will officially take over operation of the Venice Farmers Market when it opens at 8 a.m. today along the 200 block of Tampa Avenue.

Patrons will not see any changes as all the usual vendors will be there. And they may even recognize the new manager, Lee Perron, as a familiar face because he regularly pinch-hit for former manager Linda Wilson while she was on vacation.

“First off, we’re thrilled to be working with the community and the city of Venice,” said Perron, who also manages the Englewood Farmers Market, which is open in season on Thursdays.

The Friends of Sarasota County Parks operate the Englewood market and a Wednesday market hosted at Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota County. As a practice, the nonprofit group donates proceeds above operating costs to other area nonprofits.

At Phillippi Estate Park, that typically means supporting the maintenance of a historic home at the park.

In Englewood, proceeds go to local parks, food banks, the Englewood Care Clinic, Meals of Wheels and Englewood Elementary School.

“We will be working with the Venice community to get an idea of where will be the best places to invest, that adds the most value,” Perron said.

Wilson, who operated the Venice market for six years, retired in June to travel with her husband, David. Under her auspices, the market grew from 14 vendors to 45 in season, and at least 38 in the off-season.

The city opened a search for Wilson’s successor, though City Manager Ed Lavallee said the Friends of Sarasota County Parks was an easy choice, partly because of how well Perron and Wilson had worked together in the past.

Perron and Wilson brought the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to Venice and Englewood in 2014. The program allows people to use their Electronics Benefits Transfer cards to purchase produce, receiving up to $20 in additional buying power to help combat food insecurity.

And, of course, he already filled in for Wilson when she was absent.

“If anyone has a working knowledge about how this operates, it’s him,” Lavalle said.

Lavalle characterized the handoff between Wilson and Perron as a smooth one.

“She has done a great job of keeping her vendors informed, indicating to them how they have to maintain their insurance, identified the new market managers by name, so their insurance and liability coverage is up to speed, so I think they’ve done a remarkable job in a relatively short period of time providing for the change.” Lavalle said.

Even as Perron gets acclimated to the market on Tampa Avenue, he will have to search for a temporary site by April 2018, when the city is scheduled to rebuild Tampa, Venice and Miami avenues as part of the $18 million road bond projects.

The work is scheduled to be complete in November 2018. But even without the road project, there have been thoughts of moving the market off Tampa Avenue for a variety of reasons, Lavallee noted. Perron said there’s plenty of time to work out a temporary site during the road construction as well as determine whether its future is back on Tampa Avenue or another city location.

Perron said the market won’t see any major changes. Unlike Englewood — where all vendors are agricultural in nature — Venice has a mix of food and arts and crafts vendors. Both have extensive educational and children’s programs.

“That’s a really good mix for Venice,” Perron said. “Different communities really represent different needs; you really can’t cookie-cutter vendors from one community to another in a thoughtful way.

“It’s very much a tourist destination, the downtown area on the island,” he added. “That reflects the needs that the Venice community would like to see in the farmers market.”

Interested in becoming a vendor at The Venice Farmers Market? Get started by downloading a vendor application!

SOCIAL MEDIA

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