The Sarasota Candle Company has had a stand at the Farmers Market for nine years, selling candles in repurposed beer and liquor containers with creative scents such as “Lido Beach Linen,” “You Smell That?” and “Sexy Time.”
The Sarasota Farmers Market has drawn thousands into downtown every weekend since 1979. The Market has expanded from half a dozen to over 70 vendors over the past 40 years but has remained in the same area of downtown. The market is open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday mornings all year on Lemon and First Streets. All of the vendors are local small businesses and owners are usually required to be present at the market.
Thesis students Rosemary DeMarco, Lucy Sanz and Ella Denham-Conroy were found at the Farmers Market with smiles and the tops of pineapples.
Third-year Megan Ballard has gone to the Farmers Market nearly every Saturday this semester. “I fucking love the Farmers Market,” Ballard said. “The first stop I make is the empanada stand. I get a spicy chicken empanada and a Sprite. Best hangover cure out there! Then I like to go smell the flowers, look at the fresh produce and just soak up the sun.”
Good Gum guru Isabelle Duncan is turning 81 in November and sells the powdered toothpaste she invented 30 years ago every week at the market. “I’ve always been into natural healing,” Duncan said. “About 30 years ago I had some gum disease so they wanted to do surgery, [but] I didn’t want it. I like to experiment with my body because I believe the body is self-healing to a point.” Duncan was skeptical of her store-bought toothpaste and thought she could find a natural solution. “My thought was, well what I’m using is [not good], so I went in my kitchen and put together this formula for me,” she said. The powder contains all natural ingredients such as baking soda, cinnamon, cranberry, vitamin C and sea salt. “[After] I quit using whatever junk I was using, the gums healed themselves,” Duncan recalled.
Second-year Mary Jane Burson has been working at the Worden Farms stand for about a year. Her favorite part about working at the Farmers Market is the organic produce and the connections she makes with other people. “You can go everywhere and people will know you just because you work at the Farmers Market,” she remarked. Her favorite vegetable is butternut squash and enjoys selling sunflowers and snapdragons. Burson added, “Come to the Farmers Market, it’s the best place in the world!”
Stefania Fochi (left) has been selling empanadas at the Farmers Market for nearly ten years. She used to call her company Empanadas by Stef but she recently re-named it The Empanada Girl. “I re-branded because that’s what everybody knows me as. Everywhere I would go, that’s how I would be greeted,” Fochi said. Fochi emphasized the quality of ingredients in the empanadas. She imports Italian doppio zero flour—”they don’t use Roundup in Italy,” Fochi said—and cooks with many vegetables. “I only use whole foods, whole vegetables, so it’s real food. That’s really why I do it.”
After making barbecue for over 40 years, Perry Washington doesn’t eat barbecue anymore. “I like hot dogs and hamburgers, no barbecue. I’ve had it so much, you get tired of it. You know what I mean? I just taste it to make sure it’s right,” Washington said. Washington sells barbecued ribs, pork, chicken and beef along with classic sides such as baked beans and mac & cheese. His daughter Kiesha is working on a vegan alternative. When asked how long he has been living in Sarasota, Washington replied, “I’ve been here since 1964, so does that make me a native?”
Laura Garrison, right, opts to work barefoot. She has been vegan for decades and has been selling raw, gluten free and vegan food at the Farmers Market for eight years. “We’ve established a good strong foundation at the market. We were told we would fail eight years ago because there weren’t any vegans and now people are emulating us here,” Garrison recalled. She said the market is a community center. “This is a culture, it’s unlike anything else. It’s a family,” Garrison remarked.
This is a juniper bonsai tree from Lou’s Bonsai Nursery. Owner Louis “Lou” Rindner said the juniper is one of the most popular trees at his stand. The number on the bottom is how many times per week the tree needs to be watered. “The reason why we do that is so if you say, ‘Wow, I really want a bonsai tree but I don’t want to take care of it,’ then you would look at trees that have the number 1 on it,” Rindner said. “That means if you forget, nothing happens.”
Sarah Whannel co-owns and operates the Homestead Hydroponic Farm in Myakka City, Fla. She said that she enjoys chatting with customers and explaining how hydroponics works. “It’s nice to be able to sell something that you are completely involved in and then you can explain that well to other people,” Whannel said. She also enjoys being in charge of her own company. “It’s rewarding to do your own business for yourself,” Whannel added.