Gathering A Harvest Of Goodness
Home and work are our first and second “gathering places.” Other communal spots that bring people together become a “third place,” and in Newtown we have a number of them: the C.H. Booth Library, the Newtown Community Center, the Senior Center, coffee shops, diners, the trails at Fairfield Hills — and the Newtown Farmers Market.
The Newtown Farmers Market has been a meeting place since its inception in Sandy Hook Center in 2003. Even in the midst of the pandemic last growing season, physically distanced waves of the hand and virtual hugs in place of prepandemic greetings brought a sense of community as farmers and shoppers worked to be safe and stay healthy: a not unusual goal for those devoted to the purity of their products. But the summer of 2021 is shaping up to be one in which the more festive feel of earlier years is felt.
According to the state Department of Agriculture, our farmers market is one of more than 100 such markets in Connecticut. That means there are ample opportunities to support dozens of farmers and reap the benefits of some of the freshest, healthiest food items around.
To create a meal from seasonal, local foods is a blessing. For those who are unable to grow their own fruits and vegetables, or who have inherited a black thumb, the 2021 season of the Newtown Farmers Market is reason to celebrate.
Offering an array of state-grown and -produced foods and handcrafted items, the market located at Fairfield Hills opened June 15, and will be there each Tuesday through October, from 2 to 6:30 pm.
What is striking is that aspect of the Newtown Farmers Market that goes beyond the produce and other food items the approximately 20 vendors will supply to shoppers. That is, the feeling of belonging to a greater good.
Each week, regular shoppers get to know the farmers who are sharing their bounty. There is opportunity to engage and learn as items are perused. The farmers, in turn, come to know the repeat customers, catering to them at times with items that have been requested — and maybe setting aside a little something special for a particular shopper. Neighbors bump into neighbors, and food secrets are shared over piles of Swiss chard and kale, as a familiarity is honed among those who show up at the same time each week to browse and buy.
Nearby farmers markets can be found in Monroe, Bethel, Shelton, and Trumbull if you want to make a week of it; hours vary for each, and while most outdoor markets run now through October or November, a number of others access indoor facilities in colder months, allowing the sale of wares year around.
Farmers are not making money hand over fist. The average income for a full-time farmer ranges from $23,000 to about $75,000 a year, depending on the product. Farmers need your support and a farmers market is the perfect place to do so.
So gather at your first and second place — and embrace the third place that offers fresh air, fresh food, and fellowship. We are, at last, invited to gather.