Local farmers markets are preparing to open for a busy season providing residents with fresh, locally grown produce.
Farmer Joe’s Gardens in Wallingford opened for its 12th season in March. The shop is full of baked goods, plants, dairy and more.
“What we hope that comes out of the pandemic,” owner Ida DeFrancesco said, “is that people that tried all of these new habits whether it’s baking, cooking or growing, come back and continue to do so.”
DeFrancesco said it’s hard to anticipate business this season because planting and growing fruits and vegetables are so dependent on the weather.
It was Lori Giddix’s first time visiting the market on Friday afternoon. She was impressed with the variety of items and prices.
“The little antique things in the front is what caught my eye,” Giddix said. “I’ve lived in Meriden for over 60 years and I have never seen this place.”
Giddix said it is very important to her to support local small businesses.
“They need it, a lot of them are hurting,” she said. “Even if that means spending a little extra, I’ll do it.”
Farmer Joe’s season will end in October. Meriden
Meriden’s city-sponsored farmers market will be open on Mill Street near the Meriden Green for its 11th season in July.
Michael Rohde, president of Meriden’s Farmers Market committee, said he is expects this year to be bigger than last year now that more people are vaccinated and outdoor restrictions are lifted.
“[Last year] was our biggest year yet,” Rohde said. “We gave out $25,000 in ‘Doubling Dollars,’ which was a record. That doubled the buying power for our seniors and low-income families.”
Rohde also said local farmers had their best year at the market after many restaurants closed and cut back on product.
Looking ahead to this year, the market’s committee’s treasurer, Dave Peczynski, said everything from years previous to 2020, will return and like Rohde, he is anticipating this year to be bigger than last.
“I think that last year, there were people that were more comfortable outside, than they were going indoors to shop,” Peczynski said. “Now that they have come and experienced it, I expect for them to come back once again.”
Every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon, July 10 to Oct. 16, area residents will be able to buy farm-fresh produce. Outside of food, residents can expect to see vendors selling jewelry, clothing, crafts and flowers. There will also be musical entertainment and picnic tables for safe gathering. Southington
Southington’s town-sponsored Farmers Market is set to open June 25 and will be open every Friday until Sept. 24 from 3 to 6 p.m.
“It was one of the few activities that people could actually do,” Jolene Miceli, a member of the Activate Southington Committee said. “It’s a healthy activity and we were excited to offer it in a safe way.”
Similar to Farmer Joe’s, all produce sold at the Southington market is grown in the state, a requirement for the vendors to participate.
“Now that more people are vaccinated and we already had good practices in place,” Miceli said. “We hope that people will feel more comfortable coming. We’re hoping for bigger this year.”
Lewis Farms, also in Southington, sells produce. Manager Shawna Burgener said going into this season, business at the farm will be ‘bigger than ever’.
“I think this year people will be growing their own produce versus going to the grocery store,” she said.
The farm has an outdoor garden and sells a wide variety of plants and produce like tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins in the fall. The farm also sells ice cream in the summer.
Lewis Farms is open everyday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.