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Venice Farmers Market sets reopening

STAFF REPORT from Englewood Sun

VENICE ? After being closed for months because of COVID-19, the Venice Farmers Market announced Tuesday it is set to reopen.

In a news release, officials deemed it a great day to celebrate the return.

The reopening is Saturday, July 11 at City Hall, 401 W. Venice Ave.

“Welcome the return of your favorite summer vendors offering amazing produce, fresh baked goods including breads, pies, bagels and pretzels, wild caught seafood, Florida grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee, kettle corn, hand crafted soap, essential oils, nursery plants, and fresh cut flowers,” it said. “In addition, your favorite local artists will be attending the market offering award winning photography, unique clay art and jewelry, hand designed clothing for children and adults, and much more.”

Venice Farmers Market leader Lee Perron notes the staff and vendors have worked “to create a CDC compliant and safe socially distanced outdoor shopping experience for our community.”

Staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves while sanitizing stations will be available, it said, noting plans have been OK’d by Venice officials.

There will be a slight difference: While construction is underway for the city’s new fire station and City Hall renovation, the market be set up at West Venice Avenue between Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques.

The summer hours are from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays. To help with COVID-19 rules, only service animals will be allowed, the news release states.

For more information, visit thevenicefarmersmarket.org, email: info@thevenicefarmersmarket.org or call 941-445-9202.

Dusty Thibodeau, of Dusty’s Produce, displays local organic produce at the Venice Farmers Market in September. After months closed because of COVID-19, its set to reopen again July 11.


  • June 24, 2020
  • FAQs


How does VFM plan to practice social distancing?

  • Vendor booths will be spaced at a minimum of 10 feet apart from one another.
  • VFM will set-up caution tape in between booths to discourage customers from walking in between booths or into traffic.
  • Booth set-up minimizes a customer’s ability to touch products (ropes, tables, cones, sneeze guards). Customers may self-select produce when wearing a mask while following the rules of social distancing, “shop with your eyes not hands”, and “take what you touch”.
  • Vendor booths will have markers on the pavement for 6 feet of social distancing for customers that walk up and are in line.
  • Vendors will have a “Pick Up Table” or use existing counter space for placing product for pick-up and receiving payment separate from product display.
  • Customers will be notified to walk directionally as vehicle traffic travels on the streets… walking along Venice Avenue west towards the water and walking Venice Avenue east towards downtown. This will keep a one-way only pedestrian flow adjacent to vendor tents. Sidewalks on both sides of the street will be open for two-way pedestrian traffic.
  • There will not be dining, seating or gathering areas within the market site.
  • VFM staff will constantly be monitoring the market site traffic and instructing customers to keep moving to avoid overcrowding.
  • When market site attendance approaches crowds that inhibit effective social distancing, VFM staff will have a click-counter tool to track and control the number of people (entering and exiting) in the market. Staff will communicate via 2-way radios as customers enter and exit.
  • VFM will place signage around the perimeter of the market between the street and sidewalks directing customers to use entrances at Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques only. Caution tape will be between signs to encourage pedestrian traffic flow.
  • Ask customers to please conclude shopping the market if they are shopping for an extended period (more than 30 minutes).
  • In preparation of lines forming with walk-up customers, VFM will have 6-foot pavement markers outside of both entrances of the market. VFM to display instructional signs “form lines here” and “maintain 6 feet for social distancing”.
  • Customer Code of Conduct signs posted at each entrance and within the market site.
  • Customer friendly signage displayed throughout the market as reminders.


Will there be handwashing/sanitizing stations?

  • Yes, Vendors are required to have their own hand sanitization station. For customers, VFM will have handwashing/sanitizing stations at each entrance to the market located at Harbor Avenue and Avenue des Parques.
  • VFM will check every 30 minutes that there is adequate soap and paper towels and/or sanitizer at all VFM handwashing/sanitization stations and refill as necessary. All hand washing/sanitization stations will meet health guidelines.  VFM will provide hand sanitizer for customers, vendors and staff at each entrance, our info booth and the exit.


Can I bring my dog to the market?

  • Please keep your pets at home (unless service animal).


What sanitation procedures are in place?

  • Staff and Vendors will clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces including tabletops, phones, keyboards, and cash register counters (at minimum every 30 minutes).


Will there be restrooms for the public? 

  • There will be restrooms located at the tennis courts public facilities.


Will vendors be practicing new safety guidelines? 

     Yes, here is a list of new procedures our vendors will follow to ensure health safety:

  • The selection of vendors will be consistent with existing Vendor Agreement, market Rules and Regulations and addendum’s previously adopted and approved by the City.
  • Except for produce, all food and bakery items will be packaged prior to customer purchase.  Non-food items will be packaged, wrapped or bagged.
  • Vendors are required to wear PPE, facemasks and gloves at all times.
  • Vendors and staff are required to self-evaluate their health status prior to coming to market. This includes not coming to work sick and/or exhibiting COVID 19 symptoms.
  • Vendors and staff are required to report if they have had contact with anyone who has tested positive with COVID 19 and to request a two-week absence to self-quarantine. 
  • Vendor booths will have markers on the pavement for 6 feet of social distancing, provided by vendors, for customers that walk up and are in line.
  • Vendors will have a “Pick Up Table” or use existing counter space to place orders for pick up.
  • Encourage the use of on-line order and prepayment, credit/debit cards and contactless payment. If cash is used, we ask that vendors round up to the nearest dollar to limit the need for change.
  • SNAP customers will place their payment tokens in separate plastic bags provided by VFM staff when making payment to vendors. VFM staff will collect the bags at the end of market. Tokens will be sanitized prior to re-issue.
  • Vendors should encourage customers to use credit/debit cards. Credit cards, clipboards, and terminals shall be sanitized after each transaction.
  • Handling money/market currency and food handling are separate (I.e.: there is one staff member handling food and another staff member that is handling money… adjoining vendors may share staff to handle money). 
  • Only the necessary staff are working
  • No sampling, no selling consume-on-premises food and no refilling reusable containers.
  • Vendors wash their hands, change their gloves and sanitize their counters, tables, and work space frequently.
  • Vendors must handle produce (except where customer is wearing a mask and follows the customer code of conduct rules) and product for shoppers.
  • All booths have a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
  • Vendors must use plastic or vinyl tables and/or coverings for easy sanitizing.
  • Vendors must wash hands after using the restroom, touching their face, sneezing, using a tissue, before and after eating, and after handling money.
  • VFM staff will perform periodic checks of all vendors’ booths each hour. Any vendor that does not follow their pre-approved set-up will be required to stop selling and immediately correct the issue.
  • During the periodic checks, if staff observes possible COVID 19 symptoms among vendors or staff, vendor and/or staff temperature will be taken with a contactless thermometer.
  • Before a vendor can sell, VFM staff will review each vendor booth for proper social distancing setup.
  • Vendors must clean and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces every 30 minutes, such as (but not limited to) tabletops, phones, keyboards, cash register counters, handwashing sinks, card readers; and trash cans frequently. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered products that clean (removes germs) and disinfect (kill germs) must be used.
  • For Proper Handling of Disinfectants and Waste, vendors must ensure that:
    • Chemicals are used in a well-ventilated area and not mixed with incompatible chemicals
    • No chemical contact with food during cleaning
    • Waste is disposed safely a in a secure trash container provided by the vendor


Customer Code of Conduct

  • STAY HOME if I am sick or if I have been in contact with someone who is sick.
  • Make a shopping list before visiting the market.
  • Pre-order and prepay vendors if possible @ www.thevenicefarmersmarket.org 
  • Designate one shopper per household.
  • Leave my pet at home unless it is a service dog.
  • Be alert! I will notice modifications and signs and adhere to them.
  • Not touch products, but instead, ask a vendor for what I would like.
  • Maintain 6 feet of space at all times. I will look for physical cues like tape, chalk, and signs to help remind me.
  • Shop quickly and efficiently – 30 minutes or less
  • Use the provided hand sanitizer and/or hand wash stations at the market.
  • Avoid touching my eyes, nose, mouth, and face in general.
  • Cover my cough or sneeze with a tissue, then dispose of it. Then wash my hands.
  • Wear a face mask if you have one available, necessary for hand selecting produce, “shop with your eyes not your hands”, “take what you touch”
  • Be the most responsible shopper I can possibly be!
  • Take a photo of this sign as your reminder!

Venice Farmers Market to Re-Open on July 11, 2020!

We are Back!

Summer vendors will offer produce, fresh baked goods including breads, pies, bagels and pretzels, wild-caught seafood, Florida-grown mushrooms, boutique cheeses, locally roasted coffee, kettle corn, hand-crafted soap, essential oils, nursery plants and fresh-cut flowers. In addition, local artists will be attending the market offering award-winning photography, unique clay art and jewelry, hand-designed clothing for children and adults, and more.

Market staff and vendors have created a CDC-compliant and safe socially distanced outdoor shopping experience for the community, states Farmers Market Manager Lee Perron. All staff and vendors will wear masks and gloves and sanitizing stations will be available. The plan has been reviewed and approved by the City of Venice in order to comply with all federal, state and local guidelines for food and personal safety. Please visit the market website, www.thevenicefarmersmarket.org, and select the FAQ tab to read more about new operating guidelines.

During the construction of Fire Station 1 and expansion of City Hall, the market will relocate out of the parking lot but will still operate at City Hall. The Farmers Market will set up on W. Venice Avenue between Harbor Drive and Avenue des Parques, located between City Hall and the Hecksher Park tennis courts.

Summer market hours will be from 8 a.m. to noon. Only service animals will be allowed during current COVID-19 rules.

For more information, go to www.thevenicefarmersmarket.org. Contact Lee Perron via email at info@thevenicefarmersmarket.org or call 941-445-9209.

Stacks Image 35753

Please plan to join us this Saturday, August 5, 2017 from 9 to 11 AM at the Venice Farmers Market in the 200 Block of Tampa Avenue W., for a FREE ROCK PAINTING event for children of all ages hosted by Venice Rocks.
Venice Rocks is the brainchild of Garden Elementary art teacher Joanna Davis and is part of the rock painting craze going viral across the internet.
Free rocks and art supplies will be provided by White Cement Specialties, Bespoke Cabinet Design and Mermaids Design Studio.
The rock painting theme will be Florida fresh fruits and vegetables! Once painted the rocks can be “secretly” placed around Centennial Park for a surprise discovery!
So load up the kids and head on down to the Venice Rocks family fun event this Saturday at the Venice Farmers Market.

For more information contact Lee Perron via e-mail: info@thevenicefarmersmarket.org or by phone (941) 445-9202.
Stacks Image 35756

By Earle Kimel (Staff Writer/Herald Tribune)

Linda Wilson retired this month.

VENICE — The Friends of Sarasota County Parks will officially take over operation of the Venice Farmers Market when it opens at 8 a.m. today along the 200 block of Tampa Avenue.

Patrons will not see any changes as all the usual vendors will be there. And they may even recognize the new manager, Lee Perron, as a familiar face because he regularly pinch-hit for former manager Linda Wilson while she was on vacation.

“First off, we’re thrilled to be working with the community and the city of Venice,” said Perron, who also manages the Englewood Farmers Market, which is open in season on Thursdays.

The Friends of Sarasota County Parks operate the Englewood market and a Wednesday market hosted at Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota County. As a practice, the nonprofit group donates proceeds above operating costs to other area nonprofits.

At Phillippi Estate Park, that typically means supporting the maintenance of a historic home at the park.

In Englewood, proceeds go to local parks, food banks, the Englewood Care Clinic, Meals of Wheels and Englewood Elementary School.

“We will be working with the Venice community to get an idea of where will be the best places to invest, that adds the most value,” Perron said.

Wilson, who operated the Venice market for six years, retired in June to travel with her husband, David. Under her auspices, the market grew from 14 vendors to 45 in season, and at least 38 in the off-season.

The city opened a search for Wilson’s successor, though City Manager Ed Lavallee said the Friends of Sarasota County Parks was an easy choice, partly because of how well Perron and Wilson had worked together in the past.

Perron and Wilson brought the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to Venice and Englewood in 2014. The program allows people to use their Electronics Benefits Transfer cards to purchase produce, receiving up to $20 in additional buying power to help combat food insecurity.

And, of course, he already filled in for Wilson when she was absent.

“If anyone has a working knowledge about how this operates, it’s him,” Lavalle said.

Lavalle characterized the handoff between Wilson and Perron as a smooth one.

“She has done a great job of keeping her vendors informed, indicating to them how they have to maintain their insurance, identified the new market managers by name, so their insurance and liability coverage is up to speed, so I think they’ve done a remarkable job in a relatively short period of time providing for the change.” Lavalle said.

Even as Perron gets acclimated to the market on Tampa Avenue, he will have to search for a temporary site by April 2018, when the city is scheduled to rebuild Tampa, Venice and Miami avenues as part of the $18 million road bond projects.

The work is scheduled to be complete in November 2018. But even without the road project, there have been thoughts of moving the market off Tampa Avenue for a variety of reasons, Lavallee noted. Perron said there’s plenty of time to work out a temporary site during the road construction as well as determine whether its future is back on Tampa Avenue or another city location.

Perron said the market won’t see any major changes. Unlike Englewood — where all vendors are agricultural in nature — Venice has a mix of food and arts and crafts vendors. Both have extensive educational and children’s programs.

“That’s a really good mix for Venice,” Perron said. “Different communities really represent different needs; you really can’t cookie-cutter vendors from one community to another in a thoughtful way.

“It’s very much a tourist destination, the downtown area on the island,” he added. “That reflects the needs that the Venice community would like to see in the farmers market.”

Interested in becoming a vendor at The Venice Farmers Market? Get started by downloading a vendor application!



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