What's Sprouting: Central Sarasota Farmer's Market
The Central Sarasota Farmer’s Market may still be growing, but that won’t stop you from having a culinary adventure to stimulate all of your senses.
Stop over at Brown’s Grove or Greens on the Gro for colorful in-season produce. Order from the Baja Boys Mexican Surf Grill food truck to see what new recipe owner Michelle Jett is trying out—maybe you’ll sample some of her yummy zucchini guacamole.
Enjoy a chocolate bourbon pie pop from Cheesecake Me. Smell the fragrant handmade soaps and candles at Blissful Essence. While you peruse the market, listen to the folksy sounds of guitar player James Hawkins.
The Central Sarasota Farmer’s Market, which started in January, is held year-round in the parking lot of Sarasota County Technical Institute. Its goal is to attract nearby residents with a convenient venue where they can buy local food.
“We saw a need for another market in town,” says Tim Brown, owner of the Sarasota-based Brown’s Grove. Brown worked with Mary Arndt of Blissful Essence and Todd Underhill of the Florida West Coast Resource and Conservation Council to form a nonprofit organization and get the market off the ground.
The market attracts about 20 vendors each week and plans to continue growing slowly, says Brown. Some of the other vendors include Perry’s Original Roadside Barbecue, the crepe-focused Mobile Bistro, the Purple Belle Ice Cream food truck, and Sun Crazy Gardens. Once a month, the market lets craft vendors display at the market as well, says Arndt.
“People coming here are very receptive to try new things,” says Bonnie Wachtler of Brooklyn Knish, noting that a spicy jalapeño cheddar knish is one of her popular savory options.
Market organizers have a special interest in supporting local Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters— both Brown and Underhill were members when they were growing up. So far, some funds from vendor rental at the market have gone toward sending 10 young FFA members to the state FFA convention and toward purchasing swine for Riverview High School members to use at the Sarasota County Fair.
The market is also planning a quarterly Market Ag Education Day. Their first event featured speakers on urban chicken production and the benefits of grass-fed beef.
Community response to the market has been positive, says Arndt.
“People come over on their bikes or walk over,” she says. “We’re letting the market take on its own personality.” Market vendors are supporting each other as well.
For instance, Jett of Baja Boys will get a case of tomatoes from Brown’s Grove to make her fresh salsa.
While market organizers want people to visit the Central Sarasota market, they hope this newest addition to the Bradenton/Sarasota farmers’ market scene will spark a greater general interest in supporting local growers and vendors, says Underhill.
Central Sarasota Farmer’s Market:
4748 S Beneva Rd, Sarasota;