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Winter Farmers' Market in Full Bloom

The Westport Farmers' Market may just be the cure for a bout of cabin fever.

At this point you're probably sick of the cold and the oppressive glacial winds. You're most likely jonesing for some sort of thermal refuge to dethaw your frozen bones. And certainly you long for the colors of spring and summer, the feeling of fruitfulness.

But just because the trees and ground show no sign of green doesn't mean fecundity is lost. Visit Westport's Winter Farmers' Market, there's plenty of life blooming there.

Every Thursday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. local farmers and vendors congregate in the warm greenhouse of Gilbertie's Herb Farm, proffering their season's best to fellow Westporters—a sermon on both health, freshness, and economics.

"The Farmers' Market gives people the power to eat healthy and support local businesses," says Lori Cochrain, director of the . "In today's economy, it's best to keep money local, eat healthy, and trust our local farmers."

And with the market's panoply of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other artisan goods, eating healthy is certainly inevitable. Patrons meander from vendor to vendor, gleaning local edibles for their winter meals. They finger through baskets of turnips and sweet potatoes, peashoots and beets. They select a cut of meat from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm's table and then peruse the freshly baked pies on display at Whistle Stop Bakery's booth. Everything needed for a winter meal is at their disposal.

And to ensure that all the comestibles are of top quality, farmers and vendors must comply with the stringencies mandated by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. "Our mission is to supply local and sustainable food" says Cochrain. "All of our farms have to meet strict criteria. We're one of the strictest markets." 

But procuring ingredients to create a hearty stew or slow roast isn't the only reason why people gather at the market. There's a social component, too. "Because of the severity of weather this winter the community wants a break," says Joe Gloria of Gilbertie's Herb Farm. "[Everyone] wants to get out and converse. It's cabin fever gone wild."

And they do. After doing a bit of shopping, patrons break away from the booths and scatter themselves about the burlap covered picnic tables. Aromas of woodsmoke and fresh jasmine waft overhead, as they nibble on freshly fired pizzas made à la minute by Skinny Pines Brick Oven Caterer and sip on Argoya holistic teas. They chat with their neighbors and friends, basking in the greenhouse's 80-degree temperature.

Come March 31st, however, the market will adjourn for six weeks. With the break, farmers will tend to their crops and regroup for the summer market, which is scheduled to commence on May 19th at its customary location, the Imperial Avenue commuters' lot.

But until then, life in the greenhouse is a joy.

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