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Fresh Pickings

Posted by Bill True on

Sarasota County's Farms and Farmers Markets

 Besides the stunning coastline and a bustling city life, Sarasota has a tremendous agricultural community  that is loved all across Florida's west coast. Every weekend, rain or shine, on Saturday morning, you can  stroll the streets of Downtown Sarasota and pop into the local farmers market. With over 70 vendors and  5,000 sqaure feet of fresh pickings, it's a great way to kickstart your weekend.

 Walk the streets lined with local vendors, grab a hot or iced cup of coffee and a warm pastry, take in the  smell of homemade hand soaps and let your eyes graze the many colorful fruits and vegetables grown  right in your neighborhood. Take a glance at some local artwork or try on a piece of carefully crafted  jewlery. Talk to the vendors and learn about where their food or services come from and hear their story.

 Phillipi Creek Estates shares it's grounds with local vendors and patrons for a mid-week farmers market every Wednesday morning from October through April. Filled with freshly grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and delicious homemade delights, these community-based vendors share the fruits of their labor from the fields they harvest right here in the area.

Phillippi Creek and Downtown Sarasota have proven to be successful with residents in the community, however there are more than a handful of markets that take place every week from Bradenton, Ellenton and Parrish all the way south to Venice, Englewood, North Port and even Punta Gorda. 

Most of the local farming can be found east of I-75 and in select areas of Bradenton. To put it in perspective, Sarasota County has 61,033 acres of farmland and Manatee county has 313,485 acres that commercially produces over 20 different types of fruits and vegetables. There are over 40 different local farms in the tri-county area but visitors find that they are all different in their own way. Many have been established in the area for years, others are family owned and operated; some specialize in specific produce and a few strictly grow nothing but certified organic crops. If visiting a local farmers market doesn't fit into your schedule, many farms have their own store front or stand you can visit during the week. 

Why Buy Local?

Supporting our farmers and vendors has many benefits for you and the community. It's an opportunity to consume healthy and tasty food that supports local business and families. You can't beat the freshness. Locally grown organic foods usually take no more than 24 hours to go from farm to your table, whereas most foods in America have traveled 1500 miles. Not to mention the amount of fuel it takes to transport these foods and how damaging that is to our environment.

The key to remember is the more local your food is, the less energy is used in bringing that food to your dinner plate. Pre-packaged foods often have multiple steps and use multiple machines powered by energy in order to deliver for mass production. And to keep their “freshness” they contain chemicals known as preservatives. The more steps there are in preparing your food, the more room for contamination and the more need for pesticides or preservatives.

Eating locally also tastes better. The crops are picked at their peak ripeness and harvested just in time for you to reap the benefits. 

So next time you join your neighbors at the farmer's market, ask the farmers where they grow their food. Know where your food is coming from and how it is prepared. You'd be surpsided just how much you could learn!

For information about all the local farms, markets and community gardens within the tri-county area, refer to the map attached here.



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