Westport Farmers’ Market Raises the Bar
By Analiese Paik
I’m dreaming of early sweet strawberries, pungent spring garlic, crisp French breakfast radishes, and thick heads of just-picked lettuce, spinach, and arugula. This Thursday my dreams will materialize before my eyes as I head to opening day at the Westport Farmers’ Market. Some big changes are in store for shoppers this year, most notably the market’s commitment to becoming GMO-Free.
Working towards becoming GMO-free will surely be a tough row to hoe, but Market Master Lori Cochran seemed undeterred. ”We’re taking baby steps, but we’ll be able to do it.” Cochran and her team will literally be writing the book on how to transition prepared food vendors and farmers alike on how to remove GMOs from their products. “We are a forward thinking entity for Fairfield County that will set the standards; we want the market to be a leader. We need to do it because it makes money for our farmers, who invest their profits back into the local community” she said.
All produce vendors at the market this year are organic or Certified Organic, so we no longer have to ask farmers if their vegetables have been sprayed with synthetic pesticides or fed with synthetic fertilizers. Or if they’re selling genetically modified sweet corn (you will have to ask at other markets if the farmers are not organic). I’m making a beeline for Riverbank Farm’s stand in the hopes that they have early strawberries since they are one of the few organic ground fruit growers in the state. If you’ve ever grown your own strawberries, you’ll understand why they are as expensive as they are. It’s back-breaking work to pick strawberries. And as my son puts it “we need to make sure to get to them before the squirrels and chipmunks smell that they’re ripe.”
Many participating farmers are members of CT NOFA, and the connection is important because even farmers who sign their Farmer’s Pledge agree to reject the use of GMOs. NOFA’s free Farm & Food Guide is available online and the legends distinguish between certified organic, non-certified organic, and Farmer’s Pledge farms.
Thanks to a new law governing the sale of CT Grown wine at farmers’ markets, Jones Winery of Shelton will be selling their wines at the market this year! Don’t even think about tastings; according to Cochran the state alcohol board doesn’t allow tastings at the market. Head to Jones Winery’s tasting room each Friday through Sunday instead where $7 buys you a tasting of their current selections and a logo wine glass. If you’d like to buy without tasting first, why not choose from their award-winning wines. Jones Winery’s Pinot Gris Vintner’s Selection 2010 and Black Currant Bouquet received first place awards in the recent CT Specialty Food Awards Competition‘s dry white and fruit categories, respectively. To learn more about Jones Winery, please read our feature story.
Organic produce vendors, lunch vendors from pizza to tamales, wines sales, and the commitment to go GMO-free each contribute to making the Westport Farmers’ Market a great destination. One stop shopping is another. “You can literally get everything you need here – seafood, meat, greens, cheese, dessert, wine, and freshly grown flowers. And that’s fun!” said Cochran.
- Boxcar Cantina
- Fort Hill Farm
- Sport Hill Farm
- Riverbank Farm
- Silvermine Apiary-Andrew’s Honey
- Skinny Pines Pizza
- Kaia Café
- Two Guys from Woodbridge
- Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm
- Woodland Farm -fruit
- Rose’s Berry Farm
- Beltane Farm
- Arethusa Dairy Farm
- Wave Hill Bread
- Sono Baking Co
- Huckleberry Bakery
- Raus Coffee
- Arogya Teas
- Ox Hollow Farm
- Local Catch
- Sugar & Olives
- Du Soleil Fine Foods
Rotating Vendors (will attend market every two to six weeks)
- Moorefield Herb Farm
- Sticky Nuts – nuts/snack bag mix, some local ingredients
- Savor Cookies
- Nothin’ But Granola
- Radical Roots
- Erin Ostreicher Floral Designs
- Cabbage & Kings Catering- 28-year-old catering business, “locally sourced and grounded in organic”
- Flour City Pasta- heritage grains, excellent dried Italian style pasta, farmer!
- Winding Drive Jam
- Fresh Pastabilities- pasta, ravioli, frozen
- Butternut Garden- 2 acre flower farm in Southport, fresh cut flowers
- Sixpence Pie Company- catering, empanadas and quiches made with ingredients sourced from local farms.
- Norwegian Wood Bakery (formally Eastern Cookies)
- R+D Chocolates- Westport-based artisan chocolate maker featuring local and seasonal ingredients; dedicated to organic and sustainable sourcing.
- Doc’s Maple Syrup
- Jones Family Farm- Wines!
- Olive Oils of the World- just olive oil, some vinegar, Italian and Greek boutique olive oil retailer