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 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.

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.

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.


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.


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