Meriden Farmers Market opens for the season with safety precautions in place

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MERIDEN — Radiant sunshine broke through the clouds on Saturday morning as the Meriden Farmers Market opened its 10th year in the Silver City.

The Mill Street side of the Meriden Green was bustling with customers for the seven vendors peddling fresh produce and honey.

The event, which ran from 8:30 a.m. to noon, had a steady flow of customers. The Farmers Market will run in the same location each Saturday through October 17.

The market was under state health guidelines. Masks are required by all and social distancing was a must. Spots in line were marked six feet away from each other for safety. People feeling sick are asked to stay home.

Customers are asked not to touch the produce. Select the items and the vendor will bag them.

All farmers accept cash, FMNP Vouchers, Doubling Dollars coupons, and EBT coupons.  Whenever possible, customers are asked to bring a variety of bills to provide exact change.

Mike Rohde, president of the Meriden Farmers Market, said the goal is to have the best farmers market possible.

“Everyone pitches in to help,” Rohde said. “We want everything organized and safe and we are happy to have it in downtown Meriden. A lot of people can walk here. In addition to providing fruits and vegetables, we are also helping our local farmers. The number of markets have decreased and each of them wanted us to open so they have a place to sell their produce.”

In previous years, the Meriden Farmers Market committee had more vendors, but this year they wanted to keep it simple for safety’s sake.

Rohde said the event has gotten more and more popular each year. In past years, the market would attract 300-plus customers each Saturday.

“I expect it be even higher this year,” Rohde said. “This is probably the safest place to buy produce in the city...We get a lot of joy from doing this. We get a lot of appreciation from our customers and farmers.”

Bob and Debbie Gawel of Gawel Family Farm were one of the seven vendors on hand. The couple was selling honey that was collected in Meriden.

“Last year was our first full-time coming and we had really good business,” Bob Gawel said. “We were steady all year. I didn’t think people buy honey every week, but sales were steady enough so we were happy. We are back and we wanted to give them some support.”

The Gawel’s get the bulk of their honey from hives at their home on Hicks Avenue.

“A majority of our sales is in the holiday season but I don’t think there are going to be a lot of craft fairs this year, so this will be important for our business,” Gawel said. 

Alfonso Caturano, a co-owner of Durham’s J.C. Farm, has been a regular vendor at the market.

Caturano said he was surprised and happy the Meriden market returned for 2020. He said four other locations he sold at were cancelled.

“It’s great to see people out,” Caturano said. “Anything we get is a positive. We are happy they are still coming out. We love being here in Meriden. It’s one of our favorite markets.”

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