By John Morton
The idea of 52 vendors on a 60-acre estate is a big thing, but it’s the little things that make the Phillippi Farmhouse Market so special.
For starters, it’s run by volunteers. And Fred and Grace Whitehouse have served as managers of this massive production for 11 of its 12 years.
“We love doing it. The only bad thing is we have to say ‘no’ a lot of the time,” Fred Whitehouse said.
He’s referring to the fact that each year a long list of vendor hopefuls request a space, but most have to be turned away.
“This year, we had only two openings. Most years, we don’t lose any,” Whitehouse.
New to the lineup when the market reopens Oct. 6 will be Siesta Key Rum and Elevation Tea.
“We only feature professional vendors,” Whitehouse said of his offerings. “No home-based operations where it’s more of a hobby.”
Located at 5500 S. Tamiami Tr., the market runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday, October through April. Admission and parking are free.
“Did you know that, after expenses, all proceeds go toward restoring the old farmhouse (on the grounds)? So far we’ve raised about $220,000,” Whitehouse said. “Eventually, we hope to make it an interactive site that showcases agriculture in old Sarasota.”
Live music and covered sitting areas are also a treat.
“I think the fact we are on grass, when most markets are in a parking lot, makes a big difference. People say they just like the vibe of it,” Whitehouse said. “I often have people who don’t want to leave when I’m taking down the umbrellas.”