Summer Solstice Ushers in Farmers Market Season


Summer Solstice Ushers in Farmers Market Season

The longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice will begin at 6:07 a.m. Thursday (probably before most of us rise from our beds) and mark the official astrological beginning of summer for the Northern Hemisphere.

I looked up the definition of the Summer Solstice in the most reliable reference a New England Yankee like me can trust – the good old “Farmer’s Almanac.” I found this in the 2018 issue: The timing of the solstice is not based on a specific calendar date and time. It depends on when the sun reaches its northernmost point from the equator.

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, from sol (meaning sun) and stitium (meaning to stop), reflecting the fact the sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the Winter Solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice the sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer.

This Summer Solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. At the Winter Solstice, the opposite occurs: The sun is at its southernmost point and is low in the sky. Its rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the feeble winter sunlight.

For me, summer is a welcome arrival. I enjoy winter with outdoor activities such as skiing and snowshoeing. Certainly, the hopefulness that spring brings with the arrival of our avian migrants and new blooming buds reminds us of a time of renewal and rebirth. I will always find time for a woods walk on a crisp sunny autumn day when maple, hickory and oak are in their glorious fall colors.

But it is summer that brings the wonder of nature’s growing season with the life-giving, warm sun beaming down on all living things. Even the sound of the word summer is a wonderful relaxing word to speak. The first syllable is the hiss of the “s” at the tip of our tongue followed by a warm breathy “ummer” from the roof of our mouth and throat.

Summer means many things to me – bike rides on country lanes, the yard, woods and fields full of bird life and songs, swimming in lakes and ponds, trips to the ocean, cookouts, fireflies and fresh-picked vegetables.

My vegetable garden is planted and growing quite nicely, thank you very much. I have been watering the new plants regularly, and all my seeds are up and reaching for the sun. Potatoes are breaking through the soil, and I have blossoms on tomato and pepper plants. The hoeing and pulling of weeds is underway, and I hope by the time the heat of July arrives my garden will be bursting with summer squash, zucchini, new potatoes, beet greens, kale, basil, onions and eggplant.

We are lucky that here in The Last Green Valley we have several regional farmers markets just a short drive from home. There is nothing like a farmers market for getting fresh vegetables, fruits and meats. Many also have baked goods, cheeses, flowers, jams and jellies, sauces and more.

I frequent our farmers markets to supplement my vegetable garden produce and look to pick up fresh-picked fruits and berries and any number of other vegetables that I don’t already grow. I am a sucker for goat cheese, too, and will always check out the several different types and flavors. We are lucky to have excellent beef and poultry farms offering their products at our regional markets as well, and I will frequently come home with locally raised meat. Here is a list of several farmers markets in our region:

The Northeast Connecticut Farmers Markets has five to choose from each week. On Mondays and Thursdays the market is in Putnam at the Riverview Marketplace Pavilion on Kennedy Drive from 3 to 6 p.m. On Tuesdays it is in Plainfield at the Early Childhood Center on Route 12 from 4 to 6 p.m. On Wednesdays it is in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Commons Shopping Center by Job Lot from 4 to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays it is Danielson at the Killingly Library on Westcott Road from 9 a.m. to noon.

Also on Saturdays, Putnam has its own farmers market in the Riverview Marketplace Pavilion from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Lebanon Farmers Market is on Saturdays from 9 am to noon at Lebanon Town Hall.

Other farmers markets in The Last Green Valley include:

  • Ashford, Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pompey Hollow Road.
  • Bozrah, Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. at Maples Farm on Route 163.
  • Canterbury, Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the municipal parking lot on Route 14.
  • Lisbon, Thursdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Lisbon Meadows Park on Route 169.
  • Norwich downtown, Wednesdays 10 a.m. to noon, at Howard Brown Park on the waterfront.
  • Norwich Uncas on Thames, Fridays 10 1 p.m.
  • Scotland, Wednesdays 3 to 6 p.m., St. Margaret Church, routes 14 and 97.
  • Storrs, Saturdays 3 to 6 p.m. at Mansfield Town Hall.
  • Willimantic, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at Jillson Square.
  • Voluntown, Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the elementary school on Main Street.

There are 112 farmers markets in Connecticut with many in our Last Green Valley towns. For a full listing, visit the link below:

Summer is here, and our local farms are busy growing and raising the tastes of the season for your enjoyment. I hope to see you at one of our local farmers markets soon. Our agricultural community is such a vital part of our local economy as well as critical to keeping our region’s farmlands in production. Stop by and get to know the folks growing quality food right here in The Last Green Valley.

Bill Reid is the chief ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor and has lived in the region for more than 35 years. He can be reached at


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