Published May 26. 2014 4:00AM Updated May 28. 2014 10:25AM
Ledyard - When the Coventry Regional Farmers' Market traveled to Holmberg Orchards on Sunday for one of its last "pop up" markets before the summer, it brought with it snippets of conversation you'd be unlikely to hear elsewhere.
"You can come to the farm and meet the cows anytime," said a vendor in a pink hat at the Buttercup Farm booth. She then launched into an explanation of federal raw milk regulations.
Other marketgoers, many clad in denim, flannel, sundresses or straw hats, stopped to learn about the "cayenne aftertaste" that accompanied a jam sold by Woodstock Hill Preserves or the "mild detox" they could get from tea prepared by the certified herbalists at Whole Harmony Medicinal Herb Farm.
The pre-season market didn't bring a very large variety of vegetables to Holmberg Orchards, but shoppers could buy seedlings to grow their own produce at home.
Also available for purchase: cheeses with descriptions that sound like they belong on a wine menu (Cato Corner Farm advertises its Vivace as having "a chewy texture with a zippy bite and aromatic finish," while its Dutch Farmstead has "a slight nutty undertone and a rich, round, well-balanced flavor"), gluten-free and vegan baked goods, fresh pasta, beeswax candles, tie-dyed shirts, grass-fed beef, cannoli, falafel.
Hundreds of customers packed the orchard, which smelled like fresh-cut grass and homemade soap, with the occasional whiff of fried food from the food trucks.
Women lined up at the Sleepy Moon booth, pushing up their sunglasses to examine homemade buttermilk and goat milk soaps. When Michelle Hanley of Groton returned to her family with a few bars, her sons - 5-year-old twins and their 3-year-old brother - begged to smell them.
Hanley said she heard about the pop up market on Facebook and was hoping to find more fresh vegetables, but she enjoyed walking around and said her sons were excited about the free tractor ride.
Families spread out blankets or just plopped down on the grass outside the Holmbergs' barn to listen to blues guitarist Ramblin' Dan Stevens. Children pulled instruments out of an antique suitcase, clanging spoons on cowbells and unproductively bashing maracas on the ground.
A girl with blond curls and a cowboy hat covered in teal sequins climbed on her dad's back as he lay on the grass, and a little boy tumbled over to a fruit tree and poked at its roots.
Mig Willis, also of Griswold, sat smiling on the grass with her 2½-year-old son Elijah, listening to the music. They took turns feeding each other apple crisp.
Willis said she loved the Orchards' apple crisp, but Elijah didn't think it was the highlight of the weekend.
"He liked the tractor better," said Willis.