The Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market Kicks Off New Season on October 4

As the Farmer’s Market enters its 2014-15 season under the direction of Realize Bradenton, connection to the community is alive and well. This year’s initiatives include “Chef at the Market,” Foodies at the Market,” live music, and family-friendly activities, including hunting for fossils on opening day.

sheppard.jpg(BRADENTON, FL) — Realize Bradenton is pleased to announce that the 2014-2015 season of the downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market, which starts on Saturday, October 4, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., on Main Street, between Manatee Avenue West and 3rd Avenue West in downtown Bradenton. In acknowledgement that October is Hunger Awareness Month, market-goers are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to the market’s info booth. All food collected supports the mission of Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee County. Parking is free and dogs on leashes are welcome. For more information about the Bradenton Farmers’ Market, visit

On opening day, Chef Jim Copening of Arts and Eats, a restaurant in the Village of the Arts, kicks off the “Chef at the Market” program. Follow Chef Copening as he shops for fresh produce for his Burmese breakfast at 9 a.m. Copening will begin his cooking demonstration at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of 4th Ave. West and Old Main Street. Don’t miss tasting free samples! Visitors to the market on October 4 can also celebrate National Fossil Day, sponsored by the South Florida Museum. Kids can get their hands dirty as they search for fossils and learn more about them in the Community Tent located at the north end of the market.

Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, the non-profit organization that organizes and promotes the market, points out that “agriculture is a major contributor to the economy of Manatee County. We’re pleased to welcome back our many vendors that have contributed consistently to the downtown Farmers’ Market.”

Isham says that two Manatee County farms have been a centerpiece of the market for many years. Greens on the Gro grow hydroponically with quality drinking water. The farm’s produce includes several varieties of kale, chard, tomatoes, arugula, bok choy, collards, spinach, mustard greens, beets, herbs, and more. Sheppard Farms is one of the oldest farms in the state of Florida. Specializing in hand-shelled peas and okra, they also produce sweet onions, strawberries, beans, squash, and collard, mustard, and turnip greens.

guy.jpgAccording to Isham, new vendors joining the market during October will add variety, including Anna's Seafood, Green Garden Chef, Sugar Cubed Bakery, Deep South Farms (a vendor for local meat and eggs), and Geraldson Community Farm, which grows certified-organic produce. She adds that the market also serves as a mini-business incubator. “Many of our vendors use the Bradenton Farmers’ Market as part of their business strategy to build relationships with customers, develop product awareness, and introduce new product lines,” she says.

Isham says that new initiatives this year include “Foodies at the Market,” showcasing local residents who love to cook using local produce and food products. First in the series, on October 25, is Jacki Dezelski, executive vice president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. She explains that this program and the “Chef at the Market” program are coordinated through a partnership with the Bradenton Herald and the paper’s Wednesday “Cooking With” feature. “Chef at the Market” is featured on the second Saturday of each month and “Foodie at the Market” on the fourth Saturday of each month. (On October 11, Chef Guy Cannata of Ortygia, a restaurant in the Village of the Arts, is the "Chef at the Market.” Chef Guy is well known for serving Monzu cuisine, a hybrid of Sicilian-French cooking that dates back to Napoleon’s time.)

Isham adds that the Community Tent will feature informative and interactive activities for the whole family. For example, every fourth Saturday of the month the Manatee Libraries will present the Creative Learning Station as a place for ideas, storytelling, and interactive learning for children and their families. Upcoming events include:

  • October 25: Manacon Art with manga-style art demonstrations, an interactive art workshop, and Manacon and Star Wars coloring sheets for the little ones.
  • November 22: The Blues, featuring a story time with blues-themed books and a musician from the Suncoast Blues Society who will perform and share information about the blues.
  • December 27: Librarian Foodie! As the holiday season continues, cookbooks and books about entertaining will be available to check out, well as samples of some of the appetizers and desserts featured in the books. There will also be children's craft books and supplies and materials available for children to make crafts.

Music is a key component of the Bradenton Farmers’ Market. “The market will continue its emphasis on local musical talent and our partnership with the Del Couch Music Education Foundation will continue in the upcoming season,” says Isham, adding that Kristopher James will perform an acoustic blend of folk/Americana on opening day.

Jeanne Wilson, owner of Jeanne’s Bistro & Coffee Shop located on Old Main Street, says that the market is “a real draw for our business—and a boost for our bottom line. It helps to launch the season with just the right community spirit!”

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