For Manatee County munchies
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, October-May
Along Old Main Street, Bradenton, (941) 932-1154
Operated by the nonprofit Realize Bradenton, this seasonal market is a great low-key destination on cool autumn mornings, with organic offerings from nearby Geraldson Community Farm, plus shelled peas, okra and other local specialties from Sheppard’s Farm, a Terra Ceia family business that’s been running since the 1930s. And don’t miss jams and pickles made from local ingredients by Sunshine Canning. One bonus: The market accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program money (aka food stamps) as payment, opening it up to all comers.
For the shopper who wants to get in and out
8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, October-June
4454 Beneva Road, Sarasota, (941) 677-0078
Kick off your weekend with a visit to this midtown market, one of our newest. Small and easily navigated, it offers unique wares that make it worth a visit and sets up on Saturday mornings in front of the Florida House on Beneva. Discover seasonal organic produce, terrific sourdough and other breads from The Glenn Family Bakery and more.
For the healthy suburban explorer
Noon-7:30 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, year-round
4180 47th St., Sarasota, (941) 358-3895
Situated on nearly five acres of land smack in the middle of suburban Sarasota, Jessica’s Organic Farm grows and sells some of the region’s best greens, herbs, root vegetables, fennel and peppers. Look closely at the celery and you’ll see the difference. While the grocery-store variety is white at the bottom, Jessica’s is deep green from frond to root. That extra coloring means extra flavor. In addition to what is grown here, Jessica’s stocks a selection of regional produce, as well as raw milks and cheeses. Here’s an institution that was feeding us fresh and local before those terms became fashionable.
For those who want to avoid the Saturday rush
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays, October-April
5500 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 861-5000
No need to wait until the weekend to stock up on fresh food. This big, seasonal Wednesday-morning market draws a hungry crowd thanks to the glazed doughnut genius of the Amish Baking Company, the outstanding pies of Polpo Pizza Co. and the always terrific joe of Out and About Coffee. Once you’re full and caffeinated, stock up on urban honey from the Sarasota Honey Company and fresh produce from Parrish’s Gamble Creek Farm and Sarasota’s Honeyside Farms. And it’s in a pretty setting, on the grounds of the creekside Phillippi mansion, with a playground where the kids can work off those sugar-doughnut highs.
For the shopper who loves to see and be seen
7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, year-round
Along Lemon Avenue and State Street, Sarasota, (941) 225-9256
The granddaddy of them all, Sarasota’s downtown Saturday market attracts more than 520,000 visitors a year, with local produce, coffee vendors, a fishmonger and a whole mess more. It’s a scene as well as a food-shopping mecca, where you’ll run into friends and neighbors, many with their kids and dogs. During the fall-to-spring growing season, check out the Worden Farm stand. The family-run Punta Gorda farm sells exceptional greens, herbs and more. Grove Ladder Farm offers locally raised and slaughtered chicken and eggs year-round, and Peter Burkard sells homegrown vegetables, Florida rice, local honey and a bunch more. Find fungi grown by Gulf Coast Mushrooms and munch on empanadas baked by Peperonata Pasta.
For shoppers who live in South County—or want a taste of small-town life
8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May-December; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, January-April
Along Tampa Avenue, Venice
South County folks show up every weekend to stroll this small market’s mix of nursery-grown herbs from Blooming Groves Nursery and grass-fed ground beef and bison from Punta Gorda’s Three Suns Ranch, plus hot and cold brews from Venetian Coffee Roasters. It’s right in the heart of the island of Venice, with all sorts of shops and eateries just steps away. Like the Bradenton market, the Venice market accepts payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Food stamp recipients can also double the value of their benefits here by purchasing Florida-grown organic produce through a program called Fresh Access Bucks.
For east county residents
3-7 p.m. Wednesdays December-April
Sarasota Polo Club, 8201 Polo Club Lane, Lakewood Ranch
You can now shop for local produce in Lakewood Ranch at the new Market at Lakewood Ranch. Organized in partnership with Worden Farm, you can expect to find seafood, eggs, chicken, duck, turkey, milk, cheese, bread, butter, cold-pressed juices, jams, pickled goods, fresh pasta, ready-to-eat meals, honey, soap, truffle oils, mushrooms, popcorn, Gulf sea salt and knife sharpening. Dogs are welcome as long as they remain on leashes and are well-behaved. Each month, the market will also feature a nonprofit.