MANATEE -- Bonni Brown is perhaps best known for her Bonni Bakes Bakery/Cafe, which she ran in the Village of the Arts near downtown Bradenton for 12 years.
Now, amid travels and other business ventures -- she still owns the cafe site -- she can be found from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday selling her Bonnibakes homemade breads, rolls and cookies at Palma Sola Farmers Market, held at Geraldson Community Farm, 1401 99th St. NW., Bradenton.
But hearing Brown tell it, the real star at Geraldson's each Sunday is not her decadent treats or Dave Blinn's remarkable local honey at the stand next to her or the baby goats across the yard.
The star is the organic produce that comes out of the ground at Geraldson Community Farm, Brown said.
"The organic vegetables out here are fantastic," Brown said as she mingled with a crowd estimated at 100 who attended a special first-of-the-year Palma Sola Farmers Market Fresh Start party that ran from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Geraldson.
The event, which featured veggie sandwiches and farm tours, also had live entertainment compliments of Sarasota music impresario and organic food lover Eddie Midler.
"You can get vegetables out here and they will keep longer because they are right from the farm, with no other footprint," Brown said. "The other night I fixed some spinach I had gotten out here. I sauteed it with a little olive oil. It had the texture of silk."
Creating a market for vibrant-colored peppers, alien-looking beet roots, massive eggplant, cabbage and kale, huge radishes and other organic vegetables is the mission of Todd Underhill, president of the Florida West Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council.
The council has operated Geraldson's for five seasons after Manatee County purchased the farm from the Geraldson family and leased it to the council, Underhill said.
"Our mission is to en-rich the local food economy by increasing the diversityof options available andproviding technical assistance to people interested inagriculture," Underhill said.
Underhill's organization also operates the Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish.
At both farms customers can subscribe to a farm share that enables them to pick up a box of vegetables weekly or alternating weekly for a prepaid amount, which is $25 or less depending on option they choose, Underhill said.
Clients can also purchase produce from both farms at any of the farmers markets they are in.
Clients can also volunteer to work for produce, Underhill said.
Information is available at www.geraldsoncommunityfarm.org.
Richard Dymond, Herald staff writer, can be contactedat 941-748-0411, ext. 6686, or tweet @Richard Dymond.