Saturdays 8am to noon

Saturdays 8am to 1pm
call us: +1 (941) 445-9209


Disclaimer: Google translate is provided for convenience and illustrative purposes, we cannot be responsible for inaccurate or erroneous translations or misinterpretations of the original English text.

Growing with the city!

Photo collage of the Venice Farmers Market

Venice Farmers Market has more than 40 vendors on Saturdays, many based during the week in Venice, Englewood and other areas of Sarasota County.
The market’s mission is to promote local Florida growers and agriculturally related products, with a focus on four core values: nutritional health, education, sustainability and sense of community.
They sell nuts (A Little Nuts) and more nuts (Bliss Nutbutters) and soap. They sell handmade clay and cement art (Ask Cynthia Harper; she’ll explain). They sharpen knives.
They sell ethnic food, bread and more. They sell fine art and wearable art (clothing, Hats of Madagascar and sandals.) They even sell handmade alpaca products.
They sell herbs to Herbs, and Helens, too. They sell micro-greens and mixes. They have hemp oil and essential oils. Pick up meat and prepared foods at Butcher’s Gourmet.
Maggie’s sells seafood and Maw Maw’s sells chicken pies. Find a garden sculpture to decorate your yard.
Family farms are featured, including Fresh Harvest (Maria Gammad of Arcadia). Fredes Fletes of North Port offers fresh, baked sweet and corn breads. You will find French bakery items, including tarts, and prepared Mexican and Italian food, including pizza. Towels from Tunisia also are available.
Fine jewelry, too.
Treats are available for pets and humans alike. They sell fresh, local, regional and organic produce, seafood, dairy products, plants, honey, syrups, sauces, salsa and more.
The market also sells gourmet bagels, German bagels and Happy Flowers.
Want to make your own sandwiches? Try some artisan small batch dairy cheeses from Wisconsin (a rare item not “grown” locally) and gourmet pickles and olives.
Top it off with fresh roasted organic coffee.
Partners include the city of Venice, Friends of Sarasota County Parks and Fresh Access Bucks, an initiative of Feeding Florida (a VFM sponsor). Another VFM sponsor is the Florida Food Assistance Program.
If Saturday is inconvenient or Venice is out of your way, try the Englewood Farmers Market. It’s open Thursdays, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Old Englewood Village, in the 300 block of West Dearborn Street.

Effective this Saturday, July 18, face coverings will be required for those visiting the Venice Farmers Market at City Hall.

Face covering required

Effective this Saturday, July 18, face coverings will be required for those visiting the Venice Farmers Market at City Hall.

If customers do not have a face covering, cloth masks will be provided for them by the Market, while supplies last.

Market staff and vendors have gone to great lengths to create a CDC compliant and safe socially distanced outdoor shopping experience for our community. Please follow the posted signage. The Market reopened on July 11, with all staff and vendors wearing masks and gloves and sanitizing stations available. Their plan has been approved by the City of Venice in order to comply with all federal, state and local guidelines for food and personal safety. Please visit the Market website,, and select the FAQ tab to read about the new operating guidelines.

The Market’s summer vendors are offering amazing produce, fresh baked goods including breads, pies, bagels and pretzels, wild caught seafood, Florida grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee, kettle corn, hand crafted soap, essential oils, nursery plants, and fresh cut flowers. In addition, your favorite local artists will be attending the market offering award-winning photography, unique clay art and jewelry, hand designed clothing for children and adults, and much more.

During the construction of the new Fire Station 1 and expansion of Venice City Hall, the Farmers Market has relocated out of the parking lot but is still operating at City Hall. The Market will set up on W. Venice Avenue between Harbor Drive and Avenue des Parques, located between City Hall and the Hecksher Park tennis courts. Summer hours are from 8 a.m. to noon. Please, only service animals will be allowed during current COVID-19 rules.

For more information, go to the Market website at or visit them on Facebook at Contact Farmers Market Manager Lee Perron via email at or call 941-445-9209.

Venice Farmers Market will reopen on Saturday

Organizers have worked with city to devise a CDCcompliant plan

By Earle Kimel (

VENiCE — The Venice Farmers Market will open for business at Venice City Hall Saturday

morning, with a slightly different layout that will both accommodate for social distancing and ongoing city hall campus renovations.

Venice Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic between Harbor Drive and Avenue des Parques so market vendors can showcase their products.

“We worked for several months with the city of Venice to come up with a plan where we could open in a CDC compliant way,” said Lee Perron, who manages the market on behalf of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks.

That model evolved from one where people would have been able to shop online and then drive by a location to have goods placed into their trunk to the current one, which is similar to the traditional market but with social distancing safeguards built in.

For example, each vendor tent will be set up 10 feet apart and volunteers will use hand clickers to keep count of the number of patrons who enter the market either from the east or west.

Just like aisles in supermarkets, shoppers will be asked to walk in one direction while shopping — specifically the same direction traffic would flow in each lane.

Dusty’s Produce

Dustin Thibodeau, of Dusty’s Produce from Fort Myers, is one of 32 vendors who will return to the Venice Farmers Market Saturday. This summer, people who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program can double the value of the foods they purchase at the market through a program sponsored by Feeding Florida. [HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / THOMAS BENDER]

Lee Perron

Lee Perron, who manages the Venice Farmers Market on behalf of the Friends of Sarasota County Parks, said it took a cooperative effort to come up with a market layout that will promote social distancing. [HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE / MIKE LANG]

All market staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves, and sanitizing stations will be available. Restrooms will be available at the Heckscher Park tennis courts.

While service animals are allowed, patrons are urged to leave their pets at home.

Booths will be set up to minimize a customer’s ability to touch products — though those wearing a mask can still choose their produce and are encouraged to take what they touch.

Six-foot social distancing markers will be placed on the pavement, and the areas between booths will be taped off to discourage people cutting through.

Each vendor will have a payment station separate from where products are displayed.

“Everyone is in this together to create this safe environment outdoors,” said Perron, who worked on the layout with Venice Assistant City Manager Len Bramble.

The move to Venice Avenue would have happened even without the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bramble noted that construction on the city hall campus took away about 40% of the market area.

On top of that, the city has been working with Florida Power & Light to get electrical power in the median of the 400 block of West Venice Avenue.

“They’ll be doing, in the next few weeks, a new drop right in the middle,” Bramble said.

Aesthetically, it will allow the city to decorate the trees in the median with holiday lights, but it will also allow farmers market vendors in the westbound lane of the road easy access to electricity.

For now, they will have access to generators, while those in the eastbound lane will still have access to power from city hall.

Frequently asked questions are posted on the market web page,

The market is open from 8 a.m. to noon through September and until 1 p.m. in season.

While it is in operation, motorists traveling toward the beach should detour at Harbor Drive and Barcelona Avenue for the block, while eastbound motorists can detour at Avenue des Parques to Granada Street.

About 32 vendors should be at the market Saturday, offering the usual array of fresh baked goods, wild caught seafood, Florida grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee and kettle corn.

Vendors offering handcrafted soaps, fresh cut flowers and nursery plants, as well as local artists will be there too.

The market, which is a nonprofit, has been working with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, since 2014.

Perron said the Feeding Florida network has worked out a deal where people enrolled in the SNAP program can double the value of their purchases at the market.

‘If you come up with $100 to swipe off your card, we will come up with $100 in matching,” Perron said. “For those people, right now, we are doubling whatever dollars they want to spend.” That program should be in effect through all of 2020.

“It’s a win for Florida farmers and the SNAP participants in our community and good use of our grant dollars,” Perron said.

The market will remain on Venice Avenue after the summer, as construction of a new fire station and expansion of city hall continues.

If it’s successful in that location, the process may continue after the new city hall campus is complete.

Perron also manages the seasonal farmers market at CoolToday Park and the seasonal Englewood Farmers Market. He said both of those are expected to reopen in the first week of October.

In the summer, the Venice Farmers Market typically sees about 1,000 to 1,200 people in a fourhour period. Perron is expecting about half of that to show up during the pandemic, or about 150 to 200 people in the market during peak hour.

If it looks like attendance is threatening the ability of people to properly social distance, volunteers at either end would temporarily halt admissions until other shoppers leave.

“You see that often in retail environments now,” Perron said.

Counting both sides of Venice Avenue, the market will operate in about 800 linear feet, with 300-foot-wide lanes.

“You should be able to handle that many people socially distanced for the 32 vendors that we have,” Perron said. “We haven’t seen it in person, but we’re going to, starting Saturday.”

Venice Farmers Market to Re-Open on July 11, 2020!


Contact:  Lee A. Perron 310 308-0251


Venice Farmers Market to Re-Open on July 11, 2020!

Stop whatever you may be doing right now…. Yes, even if have to pull your car over to the side of road, get out, look up to the heavens and shout “This is the best day ever!”

Then mark your calendar for the greatly anticipated re-opening of the Venice Farmers Market on Saturday July 11th at City Hall, 401 W. Venice Avenue! 

Welcome the return of your favorite summer vendors offering amazing produce, fresh baked goods including breads, pies, bagels and pretzels, wild caught seafood, Florida grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee, kettle corn, hand crafted soap, essential oils, nursery plants, and fresh cut flowers. In addition, your favorite local artists will be attending the market offering award winning photography, unique clay art and jewelry, hand designed clothing for children and adults, and much more! 

Our market staff and vendors have gone to great lengths to create a CDC compliant and safe socially distanced outdoor shopping experience for our community. All staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves and sanitizing stations will be available. The plan has been reviewed and approved by the City of Venice in order to comply with all federal, state and local guidelines for food and personal safety. Please visit our website @ and select the FAQ tab to read about our new operating guidelines.

New news! During the construction of the new fire station and expansion of City Hall, the market will re-locate out of the parking lot but will still operate at City Hall. The farmers market will set up on W. Venice Avenue between Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques, located between City Hall and the tennis courts.

Great news! We now offer all SNAP participants unlimited double dollars at the Venice Farmers Market! If you swipe your card for $100 we will issue you a total of $200 in token dollars to spend. Any amount…. Unlimited matching!

So load up the kids and head on down to our family friendly event every Saturday morning at the Venice Farmers Market. Summer hours are from 8 AM to Noon. Please, only service animals will be allowed during current COVID 19 rules.

For more information, please check out our website:

Contact Lee Perron via e-mail @  or phone @ (941) 445-9209.

Lee Perron - market manager

Venice Farmers Market sets reopening

STAFF REPORT from Englewood Sun

VENICE ? After being closed for months because of COVID-19, the Venice Farmers Market announced Tuesday it is set to reopen.

In a news release, officials deemed it a great day to celebrate the return.

The reopening is Saturday, July 11 at City Hall, 401 W. Venice Ave.

“Welcome the return of your favorite summer vendors offering amazing produce, fresh baked goods including breads, pies, bagels and pretzels, wild caught seafood, Florida grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee, kettle corn, hand crafted soap, essential oils, nursery plants, and fresh cut flowers,” it said. “In addition, your favorite local artists will be attending the market offering award winning photography, unique clay art and jewelry, hand designed clothing for children and adults, and much more.”

Venice Farmers Market leader Lee Perron notes the staff and vendors have worked “to create a CDC compliant and safe socially distanced outdoor shopping experience for our community.”

Staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves while sanitizing stations will be available, it said, noting plans have been OK’d by Venice officials.

There will be a slight difference: While construction is underway for the city’s new fire station and City Hall renovation, the market be set up at West Venice Avenue between Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques.

The summer hours are from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. To help with COVID-19 rules, only service animals will be allowed, the news release states.

For more information, visit, email: or call 941-445-9202.

Dusty Thibodeau, of Dusty’s Produce, displays local organic produce at the Venice Farmers Market in September. After months closed because of COVID-19, its set to reopen again July 11.


  • June 24, 2020
  • FAQs


How does VFM plan to practice social distancing?

  • Vendor booths will be spaced at a minimum of 10 feet apart from one another.
  • VFM will set-up caution tape in between booths to discourage customers from walking in between booths or into traffic.
  • Booth set-up minimizes a customer’s ability to touch products (ropes, tables, cones, sneeze guards). Customers may self-select produce when wearing a mask while following the rules of social distancing, “shop with your eyes not hands”, and “take what you touch”.
  • Vendor booths will have markers on the pavement for 6 feet of social distancing for customers that walk up and are in line.
  • Vendors will have a “Pick Up Table” or use existing counter space for placing product for pick-up and receiving payment separate from product display.
  • Customers will be notified to walk directionally as vehicle traffic travels on the streets… walking along Venice Avenue west towards the water and walking Venice Avenue east towards downtown. This will keep a one-way only pedestrian flow adjacent to vendor tents. Sidewalks on both sides of the street will be open for two-way pedestrian traffic.
  • There will not be dining, seating or gathering areas within the market site.
  • VFM staff will constantly be monitoring the market site traffic and instructing customers to keep moving to avoid overcrowding.
  • When market site attendance approaches crowds that inhibit effective social distancing, VFM staff will have a click-counter tool to track and control the number of people (entering and exiting) in the market. Staff will communicate via 2-way radios as customers enter and exit.
  • VFM will place signage around the perimeter of the market between the street and sidewalks directing customers to use entrances at Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques only. Caution tape will be between signs to encourage pedestrian traffic flow.
  • Ask customers to please conclude shopping the market if they are shopping for an extended period (more than 30 minutes).
  • In preparation of lines forming with walk-up customers, VFM will have 6-foot pavement markers outside of both entrances of the market. VFM to display instructional signs “form lines here” and “maintain 6 feet for social distancing”.
  • Customer Code of Conduct signs posted at each entrance and within the market site.
  • Customer friendly signage displayed throughout the market as reminders.


Will there be handwashing/sanitizing stations?

  • Yes, Vendors are required to have their own hand sanitization station. For customers, VFM will have handwashing/sanitizing stations at each entrance to the market located at Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques.
  • VFM will check every 30 minutes that there is adequate soap and paper towels and/or sanitizer at all VFM handwashing/sanitization stations and refill as necessary. All hand washing/sanitization stations will meet health guidelines.  VFM will provide hand sanitizer for customers, vendors and staff at each entrance, our info booth and the exit.


Can I bring my dog to the market?

  • Please keep your pets at home (unless service animal).


What sanitation procedures are in place?

  • Staff and Vendors will clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces including tabletops, phones, keyboards, and cash register counters (at minimum every 30 minutes).


Will there be restrooms for the public? 

  • There will be restrooms located at the tennis courts public facilities.


Will vendors be practicing new safety guidelines? 

     Yes, here is a list of new procedures our vendors will follow to ensure health safety:

  • The selection of vendors will be consistent with existing Vendor Agreement, market Rules and Regulations and addendum’s previously adopted and approved by the City.
  • Except for produce, all food and bakery items will be packaged prior to customer purchase.  Non-food items will be packaged, wrapped or bagged.
  • Vendors are required to wear PPE, facemasks and gloves at all times.
  • Vendors and staff are required to self-evaluate their health status prior to coming to market. This includes not coming to work sick and/or exhibiting COVID 19 symptoms.
  • Vendors and staff are required to report if they have had contact with anyone who has tested positive with COVID 19 and to request a two-week absence to self-quarantine. 
  • Vendor booths will have markers on the pavement for 6 feet of social distancing, provided by vendors, for customers that walk up and are in line.
  • Vendors will have a “Pick Up Table” or use existing counter space to place orders for pick up.
  • Encourage the use of on-line order and prepayment, credit/debit cards and contactless payment. If cash is used, we ask that vendors round up to the nearest dollar to limit the need for change.
  • SNAP customers will place their payment tokens in separate plastic bags provided by VFM staff when making payment to vendors. VFM staff will collect the bags at the end of market. Tokens will be sanitized prior to re-issue.
  • Vendors should encourage customers to use credit/debit cards. Credit cards, clipboards, and terminals shall be sanitized after each transaction.
  • Handling money/market currency and food handling are separate (I.e.: there is one staff member handling food and another staff member that is handling money… adjoining vendors may share staff to handle money). 
  • Only the necessary staff are working
  • No sampling, no selling consume-on-premises food and no refilling reusable containers.
  • Vendors wash their hands, change their gloves and sanitize their counters, tables, and work space frequently.
  • Vendors must handle produce (except where customer is wearing a mask and follows the customer code of conduct rules) and product for shoppers.
  • All booths have a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
  • Vendors must use plastic or vinyl tables and/or coverings for easy sanitizing.
  • Vendors must wash hands after using the restroom, touching their face, sneezing, using a tissue, before and after eating, and after handling money.
  • VFM staff will perform periodic checks of all vendors’ booths each hour. Any vendor that does not follow their pre-approved set-up will be required to stop selling and immediately correct the issue.
  • During the periodic checks, if staff observes possible COVID 19 symptoms among vendors or staff, vendor and/or staff temperature will be taken with a contactless thermometer.
  • Before a vendor can sell, VFM staff will review each vendor booth for proper social distancing setup.
  • Vendors must clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces every 30 minutes, such as (but not limited to) tabletops, phones, keyboards, cash register counters, handwashing sinks, card readers; and trash cans frequently. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered products that clean (removes germs) and disinfect (kill germs) must be used.
  • For Proper Handling of Disinfectants and Waste, vendors must ensure that:
    • Chemicals are used in a well-ventilated area and not mixed with incompatible chemicals
    • No chemical contact with food during cleaning
    • Waste is disposed safely a in a secure trash container provided by the vendor


Customer Code of Conduct

  • STAY HOME if I am sick or if I have been in contact with someone who is sick.
  • Make a shopping list before visiting the market.
  • Pre-order and prepay vendors if possible @ 
  • Designate one shopper per household.
  • Leave my pet at home unless it is a service dog.
  • Be alert! I will notice modifications and signs and adhere to them.
  • Not touch products, but instead, ask a vendor for what I would like.
  • Maintain 6 feet of space at all times. I will look for physical cues like tape, chalk, and signs to help remind me.
  • Shop quickly and efficiently – 30 minutes or less
  • Use the provided hand sanitizer and/or hand wash stations at the market.
  • Avoid touching my eyes, nose, mouth, and face in general.
  • Cover my cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of it. Then wash my hands.
  • Wear a face mask if you have one available, necessary for hand selecting produce, “shop with your eyes not your hands”, “take what you touch”
  • Be the most responsible shopper I can possibly be!
  • Take a photo of this sign as your reminder!

Venice Farmers Market to Re-Open on July 11, 2020!

We are Back!

Summer vendors will offer produce, fresh baked goods including breads, pies, bagels and pretzels, wild-caught seafood, Florida-grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee, kettle corn, hand-crafted soap, essential oils, nursery plants and fresh-cut flowers. In addition, local artists will be attending the market offering award-winning photography, unique clay art and jewelry, hand-designed clothing for children and adults, and more.

Market staff and vendors have created a CDC-compliant and safe socially distanced outdoor shopping experience for the community, states Farmers Market Manager Lee Perron. All staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves and sanitizing stations will be available. The plan has been reviewed and approved by the City of Venice in order to comply with all federal, state and local guidelines for food and personal safety. Please visit the market website,, and select the FAQ tab to read more about new operating guidelines.

During the construction of Fire Station 1 and expansion of City Hall, the market will relocate out of the parking lot but will still operate at City Hall. The Farmers Market will set up on W. Venice Avenue between Harbor Drive and Avenue des Parques, located between City Hall and the Hecksher Park tennis courts.

Summer market hours will be from 8 a.m. to noon. Only service animals will be allowed during current COVID-19 rules.

For more information, go to Contact Lee Perron via email at or call 941-445-9209.

Local farmers markets suspended, vendors available

Strawberries images

Farmers markets are closed in the area until further notice. You can still get items like fresh strawberries from vendors, by going to the farmers markets’ Facebook pages. SUN PHOTO BY OLIVIA CAMERON

ENGLEWOOD — As might be expected in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, farmers markets are suspended.
Englewood and Venice markets aren’t happening, organizers announced Tuesday.
The Punta Gorda Farmers Market has also been suspended, but organizers anticipate reopening the market next month.
“Our markets will remain closed until further notice in compliance with federal, state and local guidelines,” manager Lee Perron announced in an email Tuesday.
Perron manages the markets in Englewood, Venice and the new market that started this year at CoolToday Park in North Port, spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. That market was canceled earlier this month after Major League Baseball shut down spring training.
“The phone volume and e-mails regarding our markets have been massive,” Perron said.
But that doesn’t mean people have to deprive themselves of fresh vegetables. Patrons may still contact their favorite vendors individually and make their own arrangements.
“We are also directing customers in a responsible way to use our vendor directory on our websites to contact vendors directly,” Perron said. People need to arrange their own delivery and/or pick up options that comply with current social contact guidance.”
Perron encouraged vendors to use the markets’ Facebook pages as a platform to sell their products.
The vendor directories can be found on or
“Flexibility, patience and kindness will allow us all to work through our current global crisis,” Perron said. ‘Be well and be safe.”

MARKET CLOSED until further notice.

sorry we are closed

The Venice Farmers Market will be closed until further notice in compliance with Federal, State and local guidelines.

For information regarding market vendor product availability for pick-up or delivery, please click on the Vendor tab at the top of the page and then click on Directory. You will find our vendors listed in alphabetical order along with their contact info.

Ready for the Woo Hoo?!!!

Make sure to come this Saturday to see our newly redesigned Venice Farmers Market. The City’s new enhanced parking project is now completed with much more customer parking adjacent to City Hall, located at 401 W. Venice Avenue! And that gets a big Woo Hoo!


Various images from Venice Farmers Market

On any given Saturday morning in the parking lot of Venice’s City Hall, throngs of shoppers stroll through the many booths in the Venice Farmers Market, sampling local delicacies and taking in the artwork. A recent visit saw many happy folks dancing to a vibrant steel drum calypso band as the delicious scents of fresh-baked French bread, Spanish paella and South American empanadas wafted through the crisp morning air. A variety of other ready-to-eat foods are available at the more than 50 stands featuring vibrantly colored baskets of organic and farm-to-table fresh produce from regional farms, as well as plenty of handmade arts and crafts.

The Venice Farmers Market’s success right now is due in large part to a number of changes that have occurred over the past few years. Following the retirement of the previous market manager, in June 2017 the City of Venice awarded the market’s contract to the nonprofit Friends of Sarasota County Parks with Lee Perron as market manager. Lee and his team of four—including Market Operations Manager Tom Stone, EBT/SNAP Manager Amy Stone and Operational Team Member Bob Deal—already had plenty of experience, having founded the Englewood Farmers Market (Thursdays, 9 a.m.) in 2011. Lee’s team is brimming with confidence, spirit and energy and has a sincere desire to bring the freshest local produce possible to Venice shoppers.

“Here when we started at the Venice Farmers Market, we had just 35 vendors, and 43 percent of them were selling arts and crafts,” Lee—wearing his signature welcoming smile and wide-brimmed straw hat—explains. “The first thing we realized was that we needed to diversify in the food space, we needed to bring in more certified organic, we needed to bring in more bakers. We needed to have foods here that people want to buy and consume every week. When we first started, there were no Florida farmers and no Certified Organic. Now we offer all of that and more.”

The group tapped into their many contacts in the local farming and craft foods communities to bring in new growers and have increased the number of vendors to 51. Along with the expansion of the fresh produce and food offerings at the market has been an increasing awareness of local residents of the health and environmental benefits of eating locally grown food. That has resulted in such an increased demand for fresh fruit and vegetables at the market that longtime vendors say the crowds now come immediately when the gates open at 8 a.m., and many growers sell out all their fresh produce quickly.

“This used to be a ‘late’ market; people would come later in the day, and it was a lot of arts and crafts and less fresh produce,” says vendor Sue Drummer of Venus Veggies, a 100 percent Certified Organic farm in Venus, Fla., who gets up at 3 a.m. every morning to load her truck with fresh heads of lettuce to take to market. “Now if people want to get something, they have to come early. It really is a farmers market now. I brought 100 heads of lettuce today and sold everything—all my kale and radishes by 10 a.m. Since Lee took over, my income has doubled, and the crowds have doubled.”

The move to City Hall’s parking lot because of the ongoing roadwork in downtown Venice has allowed the market to spread out, offering much more room for shoppers. But this relocation, which happened this past summer, also came with some challenges.

“I’ve been selling fish in the Venice Farmers Market for 23 years,” says vendor Maggie Balsch, whose stand offers locally caught grouper, snapper, tuna, pompano, cobia, hogfish, as well as cod and haddock from northern waters. “I am the only original vendor left. There have been pros and cons with the move. We have more space but do miss some of that foot traffic off Venice Avenue, and it is harder for some of Venice’s older folks from the KMI building to come over here. But the location is beautiful; it’s bigger, it’s wider, it’s easier to walk around. Those are really positive things.” 

Lee says that since the addition of the new vendors and the market’s relocation, attendance has continued to grow and is now up 35 percent from where it was two years ago. He and his team take head counts in the market every 30 minutes to track attendance. The market is now attracting more than 4,000 people every Saturday. Some of those shoppers take part in the EBT and SNAP food assistance programs, and the Venice Farmers Market matches any funds spent by those participants up to $40.

“We really want people to know that,” Lee says. “We double the EBT and SNAP dollars. Local people are taking advantage of the matching funds. Our Englewood and Venice markets are in the top three for participation in this program in the whole state of Florida.”

The marker is a nonprofit organization, and the market managers in the past year have donated more than $17,000 back to the community, including gifts to the Salvation Army Food Bank, Good Samaritan Pharmacy (featured in the Good Times section of this issue), Our Mother’s House residential program, as well as local parks. 

“A farmers market is where urban meets rural,” Lee says. “The farmers come to you. They just picked the produce yesterday, and you get to eat it today. It hasn’t been sitting on a truck for a week, and it helps us reduce our carbon footprint.”

Lee regularly makes meals for himself out of ingredients sourced strictly from the farmers market and suggests that anyone can give that a try.

“One recent meal I made, I went to Maggie’s for seafood, got a lot of fresh Gulf shrimp, fresh wild-caught and never frozen. They taste like lobster,” he explains. “I bought olive oil and vinegar right here in the market. Onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh pasta made right here in the market. I grilled the shrimp and vegetables, cooked the pasta wet in the pan with fresh pesto. I had fresh bread made that morning from the baker. I had a wonderful meal,and I got everything here. It just takes good ingredients, and you can get all of it here in the Venice Farmers Market!”

City Hall, Saturdays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. (until noon the off season), 941.445.9209.

Venice Farmers Market with Lee Perron

Lee Perron

Editor’s Note: We spoke with Lee Perron with the Venice Farmer’s Market (VFM) to learn more about the operation and its community impact. The VFM is held 8am to 1pm every Saturday through April, and 8am to noon May through December. Visit  

Lee, what’s the brief history of the VFM and how did you get involved?
The VFM has been in operation in downtown Venice on the island for over 20 years. Maggie’s Seafood was one of the first charter members and they still offer Florida wild-caught seafood to this day.

How has the Venice City Hall worked as the location?
The public response has been very positive. Staff and vendors appreciate the location with its wider pedestrian walkways, beautiful shade trees and picnic tables. The City has been a great partner.

How many vendors participate and what’s the economic impact?
We now have 51 vendors. The 19 newer vendors have been local farmers, rock star bakers, and artisan food purveyors. Adding more food options has enhanced the VFM. The UF Economic Impact Study concluded vendors created $2.6M in revenue with a total impact of $5.3M on the downtown area.

What’s the process for selecting vendors?
We are at capacity with a long waiting list, but completing an application is the first step. We are always looking for diverse and high-quality products that address the needs of our customers. And of course we value attracting top notch people that support their product. Professionalism, experience and a strong customer service background enhance the market experience.

How does the market benefit local nonprofit groups?
Every week we have a non-profit guest to help build awareness of their mission, fundraising opportunities and volunteer needs. We contributed $17,000 in 2018 to local nonprofits serving the Venice community. We also offer the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and we double participant’s money when they shop so they can purchase twice as much nutritious food.

Lee, what’s your professional background?
I worked 27 years in the cable television and Internet industry and that includes serving as senior vice-president for Adelphia Communications.

What do you enjoy most about your role with the Venice market and the Thursday market in Englewood?
I appreciate our focus on nutritional health, education, sustainability, and community goodwill. I also value being part of an organization that supports local nonprofits.

How are the two markets similar and dissimilar?
Both are nonprofits with the same mission and a focus on providing good food from local sources. Each community has its own personality and preferences, so many of our vendors reflect those nuances.

Article from South County Healthy Living

Weekend Craft Show Celebration



Now is your chance to purchase a wide variety of affordable art and unique crafts at the 10th Annual Downtown Venice Craft Festival this weekend.

Due to the Venice Beautification Project the Festival will move from its usual location on Miami Avenue to 401 W. Venice Ave., in Front of City Hall.

As an added bonus, the Venice Farmer’s Market will be taking place on Avenues Des Parques alongside the Craft Festival, and both will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 2.

“We are excited to partner with Venice Farmer’s Market as this will be a great opportunity for locals to visit with all the vendors in person,” explained Erin Silk, Chief Executive Officer for Venice MainStreet, Inc.

Festival organizers expect over 100 artists and craftspeople to participate this year. A Green Market will offer live flora, freshly popped kettle corn, gourmet spices, and sauces. Arts and crafts will include a wide variety of ceramics, jewelry, stained glass, metal sculpture, photography, paintings, jewelry, candles, clothing, hats, hair accessories, paper collage, books, and soaps/lotions. Favorites include Rasa Saldaitis, paintings; Gretchen Singh, pottery; John Grammer, stainless steel sculptures; Peter Lakiotis, pet accessories; Janet Campagna, children’s and dolls’ outfits; and Joyce Slate, jewelry.

Lithuanian born oil & acrylic artist Rasa Saldaitis relocated to the United States in 1994.

“My European background and experiences in America heavily influence my paintings. They reflect my love for color and the world around me.” she writes.

Gretchen Singh creates jewelry storage organizers, sage and blue ring holders, mugs, planters, soup bowls, pie plates, and more-all dishwasher, microwave and oven safe. See her work on potterybygretchen.

Joyce Slate designs fine silver jewelry. “I have different styles, each inspired by a love of the sea, archology, ancient history, or mythology,” she writes on her website

For 30 years Janet Campagna has been selling distinctive children’s clothing with matching doll’s outfits.

“Each year I create my own patterns and design a new line of boys and girls clothing, so customers will always find something different at every show. Our dolls with matching outfits come with a variety of eye, skin, or hair color, and a personalized heart,” said Campagna. Metal Sculptor, John Grammer, specializes in crafting sea life such as tarpon, tuna, dolphin, stingrays, barracuda, and turtles. Grammer creates unique stainless steel pieces that he colors using only a heat technique that produces a rainbow of permanent colors.

“Marine grade stainless will never rust even in salt, and no finish is needed. I attach a metal hook in the back of every wall sculpture at the ideal balancing point, and every piece is signed and dated,” explains Grammer. View his work at

For more information, call 941-484-6722 or email:

Rasa Saldaitis Rasa Saldaitis’ many colorful scenes may be found at her booth during the Venice Craft show this weekend.
John Grammer John Grammer will be displaying stainless steel sea life sculptures for sale at the Venice Craft Festival on Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 1-2.




We are moving to City Hall

Venice Downtown Reconstruction Project

VENICE, FL (WWSB) – For nearly 20 years the Venice Farmers Market has been at home on Tampa Avenue. But it’ll be moving when the downtown reconstruction project begins on July 9th.

“I think with the scope of the project downtown it only makes sense to be in an interim location while that’s happening,” said Market Manager Lee Perron.

The interim location is just a few blocks west, at City Hall. Perron is excited about the move… but with a stipulation. “I don’t think this is a good long-term location simply because we have a smaller market with smaller crowds during the summer.”

Tampa, Venice and Miami Avenues will be torn up and redone over the next several months. That’s forcing several downtown events to move.

“It’s going pretty well even though as humans we don’t take change real well, everyone is understanding the magnitude and purpose of the project,” said Assistant City Manager Len Bramble.

That being said – when the project is over the city is keen on moving the Farmer’s Market permanently. “If we can make it more enticing in a better location for the Farmer’s Market we’d like to explore those opportunities. And two: we know in the long run the Farmers Market needs to get off west Tampa which is one of our major east/west thoroughfares,” Bramble said.

Perron isn’t against the permanent move. He just doesn’t want the market to stay by City Hall. He wants to go onto Nassau Street. “It’s a perfect fit for us. We’re still downtown, we’re still visible, we have the infrastructure with the parking at Centennial Park and the restrooms located close by.”

Plus Perron points out the market has grown exponentially over the last year.

“We went from 2,300 a week during the February/March timeframe to 5,000 per week. So you’re going to need a location that is going to handle that many vendors and that kind of attendance volume,” Perron said.

The downtown reconstruction project will end sometime around late December or early January.


Venice Farmers Market to relocate

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

By Earle Kimel (

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.

New site ID’d for Farmers Market



By BOB MUDGE – SENIOR WRITER the Venice Gondolier

With the start date for downtown road work less than three months away, patrons of the Venice Farmers Market may be getting nervous about what’s going to happen to it until the roads are done.

Market manager Lee Perron says everything is under control.

From April until the work is completed (the goal is November, before season), the market will set up on Avenue de Parques, just west of Venice City Hall, instead of on West Tampa Avenue.

It was one of the potential sites in earlier discussions of relocating the market to reduce traffic congestion and avoid having to close it for special events downtown, when city policy only allows one road to be closed.

The prospect of moving the market led about 30 vendors to appear last May before the city’s Economic Development Advisory Board to object to any relocation. In particular, moving to near City Hall, several blocks away from the current site, would have less visibility and less parking, they said.

Nothing more came of those discussions, but remaining in place is not an option for the market while all the main roads downtown are being redone.

Perron, who has been the market manager since July, said he’s still meeting with the city to work out the details, including the date of the move, but, “I think it’s going to be pretty simple and easy transition to make.”

It helps, he said, that the market has fewer vendors and lower attendance over the summer, meaning parking and utilities are less of a concern.

He’ll probably be able to have the market open a few extra Saturdays as well.

There will be conflicts with Venice MainStreet’s Seafood Festival, in May, and Art Festival, in November, which will have priority for the market’s new space. But Perron said the market may be held in conjunction with craft fairs MainStreet has planned for June and September.

Sun Fiesta, held in October, won’t require a closure either, as it likely will be held at the airport.

Perron is confident the market will be back in its usual spot in November as planned, though another rough hurricane season is a possible “wild card,” he said.

Giving back

Another 15 vendors have joined the market since he took over, Perron said, all in the food space.

There are new farm vendors, including one selling certified organic produce, and five new bakers with different specialties, one of whom makes the trek from Port St. Lucie, on the other side of the state, every Saturday.

There’s even a cheesemonger selling cheese from boutique cheese houses.

“The diversity in the food space has really created an increase in the attendance,” he said. “In fact, we set a record last weekend.”

An economic impact study performed in 2016 put the average weekly attendance at the market at 3,000. Counters clicked off 4,500 people on Feb. 3, he said.

“Saturdays have become quite the event downtown Venice,” he said.

By adding vendors and reducing operating costs, Perron said, the market has shown that it’s not just sustainable, but that it can give back to the community.

This month it will be donating a total of $5,000 to the Salvation Army Food Pantry; Our Mother’s House, for single mothers; Good Samaritan Pharmacy and Health Services; and Friends of Sarasota County Parks.

Those four nonprofits meet needs for food, health and shelter, complementing the market’s mission, Perron said.

Another round of donations is likely during the summer, he said.

“It’s a good start,” he said.

Email: bmudge@venicegondolier. com


by Claudia Castillo 

Serves 8, 1 cup per serving


  • 1 cup barley, whole grain couscous, or quinoa
  • 1 medium bulb fennel
  • 1 bunch hearty greens, such as kale, chard, collard greens or beet greens
  • 1 small beet
  • 1 medium firm apple
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup nuts or seeds, such as pecans, almonds, or walnuts
  • 1 medium lemon
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Optional Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces cheese, such as blue, goat, or Cheddar cheese




Like the rotation of crops in a field, the Venice Farmer’s Market was due for a change.

When Lee A. Perron asked Venice residents where they go to shop at a farmer’s market, many said they went to downtown Sarasota on Saturday mornings and to Englewood on Thursdays. Those answers were instructive to Perron, who serves as manager of the Englewood market and helped found it in 2011, and has managed the Venice market since taking it over July 1 for the retiring Linda Wilson.

Perron asked the local respondents why they shopped elsewhere. They told him the Venice Farmer’s Market did not have enough food choices.

“The market evolved over a long period of time,” Perron said. “It’s a hybrid market made up of food and agriculture plus arts and crafts.

“That makes absolute sense because that represents the Venice community and represents its location in the downtown destination. But they did not have any certified organic Florida farmers in the market. They did not have enough diversity in the baked goods space and they did not have the type of food artisans that you would want to see at a farmer’s market, such as a butcher, a cheese monger.”

Perron’s goal was to give shoppers an opportunity to buy at the market everything they need to “cook a fabulous meal for family or friends.”Perron, who received a five-year contract from the city of Venice to operate the Venice market, said the quest to meet that goal already has begun. They’ve added four new bakers. One is JC’s Daily Bread of Port St. Lucie. Another is Sift Bakehouse of Sarasota, who specializes in breakfast goods. Yet another is Nonna’s Wholly Cannoli, whom Perron calls a “rock star Italian baker from the East Coast (of Florida), who focuses on traditional Italian baked goods. When Nonna’s sets up cannoli tables in Sarasota, Perron said, it creates long lines of fans.

Also at the Venice market now is Island Gluten Free Bakery, based in downtown Sarasota, which caters to people who have ciliac disease. GFB customers don’t have to worry about getting sick by gluten contamination there, Perron said.

“These are people who are baking at night, the night before,” Perron said. “They are bringing in fresh baked goods in the morning. They’re not day-old; they’re not wholesale. They’re directly from the (local) bakers.”

Another goal is to enable customers to buy produce directly from Florida farmers with no “middle man.”

There are two Florida farmers involved: Venus Veggies, a certified Florida organic farm from near Lake Okeechobee, and Fresh Harvest, an Arcadia farm that began selling produce in Venice in November.

“It was sorely needed to have Florida growers in the market, Perron said.

Beef Country is a butcher based in Port Charlotte which brings in custom-cut meats “and some of the best homemade sausages you’ve ever tasted,” Perron said. Perron says vendors at the Venice market, which opened in 1997, plan to have their 20th anniversary celebration in December. The celebration will focus on three aspects of the local market: the 20th anniversary, the start of the 2017-18 farmer’s market season and marking 2017 as the point when the market underwent a significant upgrade in the food space, Perron said.

Perron says vendors he has worked with in Englewood also believe inthe philosophy and potential of the Venice market.

“These are serious food artisans and they are coming in to completely rebuild the market because they believe in the demographics in Venice,” he said.

Master Chef Craig Chasky functions as a celebrity chef in the Venice and Englewood markets. You might find him using a customer’s grocery list or recipe to shop the various vendors for fresh seafood, produce and pasta and then create a meal at the market.

You can eat it there or Chasky will pack it up and you can take it home, Perron said, or buy the ingredients, take them home and cook it yourself.

Deciding whether to cook for yourself or let someone else do the cooking? Just another form of crop rotation.

For more information, go to

The Venice Farmer’s Market opens weekly on
Saturday mornings downtown on the island.




Venice City Hall
401 W. Venice Avenue, Venice Fl 35285

Summer Hours:

Saturdays 8am to Noon

Winter Hours:
Saturdays 8am to 1pm

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