No more farmers market at Lakewood Ranch Main Street, but shoppers have options

jbartolone@bradenton.comSeptember 20, 2013 

The farmers market won't be returning to Lakewood Ranch Main Street in 2013, but shoppers have several other options for fresh local produce. HERALD FILE PHOTO

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Main Street farmers market won't be coming back this fall or anytime soon.

The market, which took a hiatus in 2012, will not reopen in 2013 either, said Julia DeCastro, property manager for Lakewood Ranch Main Street.

She said a number of factors led to the decision, including a loss of sponsorships and not enough customers or vendors.

"It's just really hard to compete with the downtown Sarasota farmers market," DeCastro said.

The Main Street market had been held every Saturday during November-April since 2006.

"It's always been a constant battle to get and keep vendors," DeCastro told the Herald last year. "We have been fighting for survival since it started."

Shoppers looking for healthy and organic fruits and vegetables need not despair, however. Healthy Living Organic and Natural Market will open on Main Street the first week of October. It will replace Good Earth Grocery, which closed in 2011.

And there's also the farmers market at San Marco Plaza, which is still going strong every Friday, according to organizer Barb Smith. They'll be expanding their hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in October with nearly 40 vendors expected back now that it's growing season.

"We've got cheeses from Wisconsin starting in October, the salmon guy from Alaska ... we've got the best of the best," said Smith, who also owns 2nd Ann Rose Consignment Boutique in the plaza.

The San Marco Plaza market also boasts fresh olive oil, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, green tea from Japan, spaghetti, chocolate shakes in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, Smith said. A vendor also sells gyros and Angus beef burgers.

There's also the downtown Bradenton farmers market, which is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday on Old Main Street beginning Oct. 5. The weekly gathering includes fresh produce, local art, music, chef demonstrations and free family activities. Parking is free on weekends.

And the long-running Sarasota farmers market is held from 7 a.m. to noon each Saturday at Main Street and Lemon Avenue.

Jason Bartolone, East Manatee Editor, can be reached at 941-745-7011. Follow him on Twitter@JasonBartolone.

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