Farmer’s Markets – There is One Near You!

Farmer’s Markets – There is One Near You!

In the last decade there has been a healthy “growing” in the number of farmers’ markets throughout the region. Across the country, throughout New England and here in The Last Green Valley the number and variety of farmers’ markets is a wonderful addition to our source of healthy food.

I am fortunate my town of Putnam has a beautiful farmers’ market pavilion that hosts markets every week. From May to October, I am set for local farm fresh products. At a farmers’ market you’ll certainly find fresh vegetables and fruits. Fresh is the key word here since your purchase was probably picked earlier that day. You’ll also find locally raised meats as well as maple syrup and honey, green house products, cheeses, jams and baked goods.

Compared to my visits to my local supermarket, I find it to be very relaxing to visit a farmers’ market. At the supermarket I know what I am going to purchase and where to find it. For me it’s about getting in, getting what I need, finding a cashier without too long a line and getting out.

The farmers’ market is about discovery. I stroll the market. I talk with the farmers (some who I know on a first name basis), and I will always find something unexpected. I keep on the lookout for those perfect plums — little gems of sweetness. Goat cheese is always a go to purchase for me and so is grass fed beef and free-range chicken. I keep a good size garden, so I look for items I don’t grow at home, such as onions and garlic, fingerling potatoes and the vegetable that says summer, sugary sweet corn. When berry season arrives, I stock up on blueberries and freeze several quarts for enjoying throughout the year.

I like to check in with the farmers about how their growing season is progressing and ask what might be available in the weeks ahead. For some reason summer is not summer without that first bite of fresh strawberries, loud chomp of sweet corn and juicy slice of vine-ripened tomato.

The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor has plenty of farmer’s markets, and it seems more are added each year. Within a 10–15-mile radius from my home I can find a farmers’ market each day of the week, as well as orchards and farm stands all selling locally grown products.

To find a farmers’ market here in the 35 towns of The Last Green Valley go to thelastgreenvalley.org and click on the “What’s Going On” tab, and the “Farmer’s Markets” link. You can also find farms with retail stands/stores thelastgreenvalley.org/explore-the-last-green-valley/farms/

Farmers’ Markets are also a great reason to explore beyond your hometown. You can find a listing of all the farmer’s markets in the Connecticut with a listing by towns thanks to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

Here is the link: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DOAG/ADaRC/Farmers-Markets/2022/2022-Farmers-Markets-Locations.pdf

CT Agriculture also has a dedicated page about farmer’s market that you might be helpful for those interested in learning more about these excellent food sources. It can be found at:

https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/ADaRC/Publications/Farmers-Markets

The UConn Agricultural Extension has also developed a program to connect people with their local farms called Grown ConNECTed. If you find the slogan at a farmers’ market you can be assured the farmer is from Windham or Tolland counties. They also are producing a guide for the summer growing season of local farms. It’s handy to see the details of each farm and what they offer in one place.

There is an interesting food movement that has really taken off in the country called “locavore” which basically means to purchase as much food as possible that has been grown within your local environment.

Being a locavore means you’re keeping track of the food you eat and thinking about where it comes from. To many, the environmental (as well as gastronomic) impact of relying on food trucked 2,000 plus miles before arriving in the supermarket is all the reason they need to purchase as much locally grown food as possible. Being a Locavore means taking time to cultivate a relationship with your local farmers and trying to eat seasonally out of choice much like our ancestors did by necessity.

Until recently it seemed that living in New England made it challenging to eat fresh, locally grown foods year-round. That is changing, however. There are a growing number of winter farmers’ markets offering a ready source of local foods such as meats, cheeses, potatoes and winter squash. The use of high tunnels by many local farmers has also expanded the growing seasons of a variety of produce. But it is this time of year, as the summer heats up, that the farmers’ markets, farm stands and orchards are your best resource for joining the “locavore” movement. Purchasing your food from local farms also means supporting your neighborhood farmer, those folks who work and care for the land, and hopefully will continue to do so for generations to come.

Here in The Last Green Valley, as we begin to enjoy summer, I hope you’ll remember to shop at a local farmers’ market. There is one near you and the local farmers eagerly await the chance to provide you with the tastes of the season.

We live in a beautiful place called the Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. We’re fortunate to have so many farms of all sizes in our towns. I hope you’ll join me as we care for it, enjoy it and pass it on.

Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 860-774-3300 or email bill@tlgv.org

Exploring The Last Green Valley, Sunday, 6-26-22

The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the following article. The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.

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