The Englewood Farmer’s Market has grown to become one of the largest in the area, and its opening day showed why.
About 1,000 patrons came to the market off Dearborn Street on Thursday, greeted by about 50 vendors selling everything from organic herbs to barbecue.
Lee Perron, who organizes the market, said he expects those numbers to swell to about 4,000 visitors every Thursday during peak tourist season.
“It became the second largest farmers market in Sarasota and Charlotte counties last year,” Perron said. “We have a very supportive community.”
In the past two years, the market has generated $1.1 million in sales and attracted 75,000 visitors, Perron said.
Fred Dula III, who owns Come Under the Yum Yum Tree produce wholesalers, said the Englewood market is the most well-organized market he attends.
“I think they promote it better,” Dula said. “A huge percent of my business comes just from this market.”
The snowbirds have not been the only ones to notice the market’s success.
Sarasota County recently pledged $230,000 to help convert the site of the farmers market into a bona fide community gathering place.
Workers will add a hard-surfaced walking path, a parking lot and permanent rostrums to what is now just an empty patch of crab grass and sandy dirt.
In the meantime, consumers seemed happy to wander in and out of canopy tents and tables filled with colorful vegetables.
Brian Sadtler brought his 2-year-old daughter, Penelope, to the market, who happily munched on some popcorn out of a small plastic cup.
Sladter said he was surprised by the market’s size.
“It doesn’t look that big from the road,” Sadtler said. “But back here, it’s huge.”