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Farmers' Market Season Begins



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Farmers’ Market Season Begins

HARTFORD — Approximately 240 Connecticut farmers plan to participate in the 82 farmers’ markets that begin springing up across the state this month.

No matter which day of the week or where someone is located in Connecticut, there is sure to be a farmers’ market nearby offering an abundance of locally grown products. The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has published an updated brochure listing all of the 2006 markets, sorted by county for convenience.

Farmers’ markets offer a wealth of benefits to consumers, who visit the markets for different reasons. Rebecca Stumpf, an organic gardener from West Hartford, is a regular at the West Hartford Farmers’ Market on LaSalle Road, and loves the diversity of products at the market. “The vendors usually have stuff you can’t find at every garden center,” said Ms Stumpf, who was shopping with her daughter Katrina recently for organically grown herb plants.

Other customers seek out farmers’ markets for freshness and flavor that cannot be found in products shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Local farmers are able to sell varieties that have been developed for exceptional flavor rather than durability in transport and long shelf life.

Still others enjoy meeting the farmers who grow the products. There exists “a unique relationship between farmer and consumer at the market,” said Kathryn Caruso of Upper Forty Farm in Cromwell, who has been selling at the West Hartford Farmers’ Market for at least 14 years. “They get to meet the growers and put a face on their food.”

Ms Caruso also enjoys the “chance to educate the public about home-grown products,” which benefits both the consumer and the farmer.

While many people associate farmers’ markets with fresh fruits and vegetables, most markets offer much more. Vendors such as Newgate Farms of East Granby and Windsor, another regular at the West Hartford Farmers’ Market, sells bedding plants, hanging baskets, and homemade baked goods in addition to produce. Some vendors offer cut flowers, while others specialize in fresh dairy products, locally raised meats, or even seafood.

The Connecticut Farmers’ Market season runs all summer and through the fall. To receive a copy of the free 2006 Farmers’ Market brochure, send a self-addressed, business-sized envelope with 39 cents postage to The Connecticut Department of Agriculture Farmers’ Market Brochure, 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford CT 06106.

The listing also is available on the Department of Agriculture’s website, ct.gov/doag.

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