Farm markets open for business
Summer is in full swing, and so are area farmers markets.
Lyme Farmers' Market tows in food trucks. Stonington Farmers' Market boasts a boatload of fresh seafood. Fields of Green in New London and Waterford Farmers' Market feature live music.
These are just a handful of the markets in southeastern Connecticut featured in an interactive map on The Day's website at theday.com/section/farmersmarkets. The map lists locations, dates, times and more of the markets, which are all slated to be up and running by next week.
All farmers markets in New London County that are listed with the state Department of Agriculture are certified local, meaning they sell only Connecticut-sourced food and other products.
Market organizers are beaming about new additions to their weekly smorgasbord of local fruits, vegetables, dairy products, pastries, musical entertainment and more. Most local markets accept vouchers from food assistance programs.
The market located on a Bill Hill Road in Lyme has new vendors this summer, including Upper Pond Farm of Old Lyme. Upper Pond forgoes mechanized machinery in its growing practices, and Killingworth's Bitta-Blue Farm, which sells exotic greens, said Chip Dahlke, who owns the farm with Carol Adams Dahlke.
"We're always trying to tweak things," said Dahlke.
Waterford has seen a bump in attendance since it started advertising on the radio using grant money and on Facebook, according to Market Master and Hunts Brook Farm farmer Teresa Schacht. Hunts Brook is among the roughly dozen vendors currently participating in the market on Rope Ferry Road.
"Oh my gosh, it was awesome," Schacht said about a recent Saturday market. "We were just thrilled. More and more people are coming out to it."
In New London, the Fields of Green Market is changing both its location and day of operation. Rather than have two separate markets at Parade Plaza and Hodges Square on different days, the group this year will merge the two into one, larger market. The revamped market opened July 5 and will be held on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. at Williams Memorial Park.
The market that Fields of Green sets up at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital will continue to operate from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting this week.
The Saturday market, in addition to all the fresh produce, will feature live music, a clown, face painting, balloon animals and other entertainment.
"I think this will feel much more like a family event. It's going to be really family oriented, but obviously we want everyone to go," said Market Manager Art Costa. "It's not a festival per se, but we do hope it will be an exciting Saturday every Saturday that people can look forward to. We try to really make this a great time for everybody."
The 17-year-old Stonington market is at the Town Dock in the summer months, and from October to May is located in the American Velvet Mill on Bayview Avenue.
Julia Roberts, who oversees the Stonington market, said the year-round market sponsored by the Stonington Village Improvement Association provides farmers and vendors with a steady stream of revenue.
"It benefits the community at large, not just the providers of the food," she said. "We're trying to serve the community on a year round basis."
Salem's outdoor farmers market at the community park pavilion will not be returning this summer, but the weekly Farmer's Market at Burnett's Country Garden is back, open from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
In New London County, all markets but those listed in Lyme, Stonington and Noank accept vouchers from the state's farmers' market nutrition programs, according to DoAg. These programs include the Senior, Family, Women Infants Children (WIC) and new pilot Veterans' Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.
Fields of Green also accepts Supplemental Nutritional Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits and at least one vendor at Uncas on the Thames Farmers' Market in Norwich accepts SNAP. Individual vendors at the Stonington market may accept SNAP.
STAFF WRITERS JOE WOJTAS, COLIN YOUNG, KIMBERLY DRELICH, JESSICA HOPPER ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS STORY
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