Local Hero Winners 2016
Sarasota Farmers’ Market
This Saturday-morning market boasts the grandest variety of local offerings. “The last seven years have been extraordinary—this year especially,” says Phil Pagano, executive director of the downtown market, who adds that “All markets are local heroes.” With a consistent attendance in the top 5% of markets across the country Phil credits the vendors and knows how important building community is to being successful. “Seeing regulars each week—families enjoying a morning; seeing our nonprofits interacting with the community; the smells of fresh flowers, herbs, citrus, bakery items; people sitting and listening to music; vendor camaraderie—that’s a recipe to keep the passion alive!” Truer words were never spoken.
► Sarasota Farmers’ Market:
Lemon and State Streets; 941-225-9256;
Steve Phelps (Indigenous)
We love watching chef and owner Steve Phelps bring awareness to and educate our community (and beyond) about sourcing responsibly and sustainably. Indigenous Restaurant is located downtown in Towles Court. “I’m really just doing what I love to do, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who feel the same,” says Chef Steve. A lot of hard work every day makes sure each dish is perfection and our community has attested to that. “I’m constantly studying and learning new techniques. We always try to be ambitious and set high goals … [it is] so rewarding when you accomplish a great dish.” Indeed it is, Chef!
► Indigenous: 239 S Links Ave; Sarasota;
How can you not fall in love with Homestead? This innovative organic farm has been producing some of the most beautiful produce we have ever seen (have you checked out their display at the market?) “We are honored that our hard work is noticed and appreciated by the community,” says co-owner Sarah Whannel. As Floridians we know how challenging gardening/farming can be in the heat, so lettuce take a moment to be thankful these guys know what they are doing! “Growing new and unique varieties of produce keeps not only us excited, but our customers as well,” she says. You keep impressing us with your bounty, Homestead, and we promise to keep enjoying the literal fruits and vegetables of your labor!
► The Homestead Hydroponic Farm:
31305 Clay Gully Rd, Myakka;
Polpo Pizza Co
Danni Bleil, Tom Baril with their team and a 1950s Ford truck (built into a mobile artisan pizza oven) have, in fact, stolen some hearts—always utilizing our area’s freshest ingredients. We love watching the pizza cooking perfection in their wood-fired oven. “We’re so thrilled to be recognized,” says Danni. “People see (and taste) how much we care about the food, from where and how it is grown to how it is prepared and served. When we hear a customer tell us we make the ‘best pizza they’ve ever had’ it’s all the fuel we need. Kinda like putting wood on the fire.” Yup, sounds like Polpo knows what they are doing and we love them to slices for it.
► Polpo Pizza Co: 941-993-5263;
Yoder’s Amish Village
Whether you find yourself at Yoder’s Amish Village for a special treat or you are more than a regular, there is no denying this Sarasota must. Yoder’s mission statement: Creating loyalty through a heart-felt experience. In addition to their kind attitude, Yoder’s provides a great variety of produce and local goods from honey and cheese to eggs and bakery treats. “We keep our passion alive by remembering our purpose … our purpose is serving the community, while making lifelong heart connections,” say Todd and Mary Lou Emrich, owners of Yoder’s Amish Village. It’s always fun to stop by and check out what’s fresh each week.
► Yoder’s Amish Village: 3434 Bahia Vista St;
Out and About Coffee
It is likely you know Justin Banister for his expertly crafted coffee concoctions. “I always try to make sure that every customer really understands what they’re getting and what makes it [their drink] so different. When a customer takes a sip of a new coffee or drink that they’ve never had and then they breathe that breath like catching your breath for the first time, that’s when I know I made the cup right. That is why I love this.” The passion is palpable, Justin. “I’m just trying to make everyone the best cup of coffee they ever had.” Mission accomplished.
► Out and About Coffee: 941-716-1830;
Farmers’ Market Vendor
Geraldson Community Farm
Geraldson Community Farm has always been passionate about community. Another season again finds GCF enthusiastically leading us through the week’s harvest on the farm via their markets—each time teaching about new veggies and discussing recipes. And to spice things up, GCF has been known to swap vegetables for a correct trivia answer. When we asked Huong Nguyen (Team Veggie Vixen) about her experience as a vendor this year at the Phillippi Farmhouse Market, she said getting to interact with all of the interesting and awesome people was her favorite part of the gig. “It was a pretty fulfilling … there were a lot of laughs and love.” We couldn’t agree more!
► Geraldson Community Farm: 1401 99th
St NW, Bradenton; 941-792-0985;
American Diabetes Association
This annual cycling event raises funds and awareness to support research and education programs. Encouraging the community, especially those affected by diabetes, to train for the ride, Melissa Parsons, Southwest Florida’s ADA Tour coordinator, tells us what makes her so passionate: “The team captains, volunteer committee members, top fundraisers, sponsors, and community partners are who make this event. They are the passion, heart, and drive behind the Tour de Cure here … and we have a blast doing it!” Melissa says she is motivated by those living with this disease. “Diabetes is something we need to rally against, and by supporting us this community has joined the movement to stop diabetes.” It feels impossible not to be inspired. Get pumped (your tires, too) and sign up for 2017.
► American Diabetes Association:
1511 N Westshore Blvd, 980 Tampa;
813-885-5007 x 3358; www.diabetes.org