VENICE FARMER’S MARKET CELEBRATES 20th YEAR
By ED SCOTT
SPECIAL SECTIONS EDITOR
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 TheVeniceFarmersMarket.com.
The Venice Farmer’s Market opens weekly on
Saturday mornings downtown on the island.
VENICE FARMERS MARKER CELEBRATES 20th ANNIVERSARY
Contact: Lee A. Perron 941-445-9209
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 @ firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (941) 445-9209.
Pasta Mare y Monti from Chef Chasky’s “Royal Dust”
1 lb pasta of choice – cooked and drained
1/2 cup celery and baby or rainbow carrots – sliced
1 red onion, cut into crescents
1 each red, yellow and green pepper – julienned or diced
1/2 bunch fresh chopped basil, rinsed
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup sliced thing Parma Proscuitto
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes – julienned
1 tsp Chef Chasky’s “Royal Dust” (Bottarga Caviar and 14 organic mushrooms)
1/2 tsp “Mile market-44 Spice”
2 pinches of Chef Chasky’s “Adriatic Sea Salt” with lemon essential oil
1 oz Chef Chasky’s “Trojan Balsamic” plus 2 drops basil essential oil
3 oz “Limited Reserve EVOO”
4 turns of “Lavender Pepper” from mill
In a large skillet on high heat, stir fry all ingredients (except Royal Dust and Pasta), starting with onions and garlic. Add the “Limited Reserve EVOO” and toss gently for 3 minutes. Add pasta and toss. Then lightly drape with “Royal Dust” on top and serve it up!
Serves 4 – 8
Most items are available from Venice Farmer’s Market Vendors
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: email@example.com or by phone (941) 445-9202.
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.”