New location, new director, same great vibe

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farmer's market

The Siesta Key Farmers Market is thriving in the heart of the Village

The Siesta Key’s Farmers Market, the island’s own open-air Sunday morning bazaar, is thriving in its new home in the center of the Village. Adjacent to the gazebo, in the Beach Bazaar parking lot, vendors and marketgoers alike can’t say enough about setting up their tables and tents in the heart of town.

Siesta Key Rum

In November, after many years at Davidson Plaza, the popular market moved down the street and relocated to its new location at 5211 Ocean Blvd.

Lloyd Dobson, the market’s long-time manager and local artist, handed over his duties to Mike Crider who’s been a vendor at the market for 12 years, selling his 100% cotton Tunisian Fouta Spa towels and bedspreads.

“It’s been so much busier here,” reported Crider, who is also a working film and television actor. “Beach Bazaar is happy to have us and we work well together. Being next to the gazebo fits the vibe of Siesta Key in a really good way. People come from all over the world and enjoy the beautiful unique items made by local artisans. They love the fresh produce, the foods, and crafts. People want to shop locally.”

farmer's market

On a sunny Sunday at noon in mid-May, business was brisk as shoppers stopped to pick up a refreshing bottle of juice from the Neighborhood Juice table. They continued on to the colorful local produce on display at Mr. C’s Produce stand. Plump white and purple onions sat next to bright red tomatoes.

“Those are strawberry onions,” said Claude Overly, manning the space with his son Scott who was busy offering samples of fresh cantaloupe to shoppers.

farmer's market

“They’re Florida fresh and delicious,” said Overly of the strawberry onions that are grown in the Plant City area and unique to the region. Although they don’t taste like strawberries, they are grown alongside strawberry fields and only available in the fall and spring.

Shoppers were also buying pastries, cookies, and freshly made breads of all varieties at the Bread Bandits booth where the tips jar read “TIPS, college tuition.” The Bread Bandits bakery and store is just over the north bridge on South Osprey Avenue.

Conveniently, the

85 Drips coffee wagon, stationed nearby, offered the perfect complement to a delicious Sunday pastry.

farmer's market

Nearby, Chip English was overseeing his craft beer-infused Spiked Pickles operation. A trained chef, English wore a T-shirt that read “I Love Farmers Markets.”

“We’re based in Sarasota and only partner with local breweries and local Florida farmers,” he said.

At the Siesta Key Rum tent, shoppers were picking up bottles of rum to take home. Siesta Key’s most famous lifeguard, Scooter on the Beach, is on site at the booth every Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m.

farmer's market

The air was filled with the happy songs of musician Siesta John, who often plays at the market. Meanwhile, jewelry, home design and art vendors were busy welcoming shoppers as they enjoyed their visit to Siesta Key’s local marketplace. Silversmith Jiayi Li, who makes her home on Siesta Key, talked to buyers about her delicate, hand-crafted, sterling silver and gold-filled jewelry designs. Many were drawn to pieces that were adorned with gemstones and pearls.

“I’ve had a good day,” said Li, as closing time drew near. “This is the best market I’ve ever done.”

Riverview High School teacher Kimberly Johnson, a Sarasota native, was showing her hand-crafted jewelry and “sea treasures” made with the famous white Siesta Key sand. Her well-priced key chains, necklaces and bracelets were selling well.

Artists are always hard at work and award-winning Sarasota fine artist Roseann Gaglio is no exception. A member of the Southeastern Pastel Society, Gaglio was at work under her white tent, painting a portrait of a young man. Framed portraits of pets and people hung on her tent’s walls. A banner proclaiming “painting memories in portraits and wall murals” welcomed visitors to her space.

For the past 13 years, Jeanne Heere’s custom shell decor business called Little Piece of Paradise has been a regular attraction. Customers return again and again to visit with Heere and buy her Siesta Key-sourced home goods.

While assisting several Chicago visitors who asked about her shell-decorated mirrors, lamps, and frames, Heere pointed out her newest offering:

“This is a tribute to the pink flamingos that were blown off course during Hurricane Ian and now make Siesta Key home,” she said. “I painted these white starfish shells pink, added some pink feathers, miniature sunglasses, and red and white caps. They’re a fun Christmas ornament.”

As one, if not the longest, vendor at the Siesta Key Farmers Market, what does she think of the market’s new location?

“I’m so glad that we’re here,” she said without hesitation. “It’s so much better!”

The market is held every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the summer months, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting in the fall.

CUTLINES

Siesta Key Farmers Market director Mike Crider discusses his wares with a customer.
Siesta Key resident and silversmith Jiayi Li in her Classic Markings booth at the market.
Pink flamingo seastar shell ornaments made to honor Siesta Key’s pink flamingos by Jeanne Heere, A little Piece of Paradise.
Chip English in his Spiked Pickles, craft-beer infused pickled goods booth.
Sarasota portrait artist Roseann Gaglio at work.
Strawberry onions from Mr C’s Produce
Strawberry onions and tomatoes from Mr. C’s Produce
Bread Bandits breads and baked goods.
Siesta Key Rum tent at the Siesta Key Farmers Market.

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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