We Fairfield County residents are uniquely lucky to have access to beautiful fresh local produce thanks to the labors of our farmers and businesses that support them via independently run farm stands. Do yourself a foodie favor and make one of these farm stands a destination this week and greet the farmer or owner by name. You’ll be surprised and delighted at your experience and wonder why you haven’t visited before. I know what you're thinking...more apples...no thanks. Read on and see what is available from the farm these days. You will be amazed by the bounty and variety. Most farm stands close after the first hard frost, so get it now while the gettin’s good.
Sherwood Farm, 355 Sport Hill Road (Rt. 59) Easton, Top Pick for Variety
Tom Sherwood probably grows a wider range of organic and conventional vegetables, many of which are heirloom varieties, than any other farmer in the area. Those heirloom seeds are handed down from his family, which has been farming the land for over 300 years. Across from the Hellen Keller School on Sport Hill Road in Easton, Tom’s four-season farm stand sells just picked seasonal produce from his fields along with fruit brought in from local orchards. Baskets of squash, corn, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, eggplants, plums, peaches, apples, and pears line the shelves but don’t miss the back of the stand where you’ll find the free-range eggs, local fresh mozzarella, and Hudson Valley farmhouse meat products. The stand will be closing for the season around Thanksgiving except for eggs, which are sold year-round on the honor system. www.sherwoodfarm.org
Sport Hill Farm, 596 Sport Hill Road (Rt. 59) Easton, Top Pick for Organic Produce
Patti Popp’s Sport Hill Farm follows organic land care practices and offers produce, eggs, local honey and Wave Hill bread for sale at their farm stand on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10-6 through the first hard frost. Patti’s famed produce is prepared and served daily at The Unquowa School by Chef Peter who picks it fresh every morning. Lucky kids! Right now organic acorn squash, kale, fingerling potatoes, lettuces, Swiss chard, bok choy, arugula, banana peppers, Anaheim peppers, bell peppers, green cabbage and the last of the eggplant are available. Fresh eggs are available year round in the barn using the honor system. www.sporthillfarm.com
Double L Farm Stand, 3611 Post Road, Southport, Top Pick for Eclectic Mix of Local Fruits and Vegetables
When you think of a farm stand, you think of peaches, corn, tomatoes, peppers and all the other high demand crops grown in the area. Would you also think of Asian pears grown locally and organically? How about of organic Black Mission figs from Michael’s grandmother’s trees in Cheshire, lovingly and carefully picked and brought to the stand for you to drool over? Well then you haven’t been to the Double L.
Lloyd and Michael know the provenance of every item they sell and it behooves us to visit regularly because you never know what you’ll find here. This week they have organic Asian pears, Macouns and Fuji apples from Fairfield and organic Black Mission figs from Cheshire. So here comes the disconnect - there are no farmed orchards in Fairfield so where the heck are the apples coming from? Private farms..
There are families in the area who grow a wide variety of abundant crops without pesticides and fertilizers on their property and have for years supplied the Double L with its local and eclectic mix of fruits and vegetables that its devotees regularly look forward to. Next week local (backyard garden) rainbow carrots, organic sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach are coming in. The baseball field turned farm in Weston will also be supplying them with Yukons and Red potatoes in addition to the squash they’ve been harvesting.
The butter and sugar corn will continue to come in from Cheshire until the first hard frost. Enormous Cheshire peaches, local (backyard) herbs, brussels sprouts, hot peppers, French green beans (haricots verts), and apples from Wallingford are regularly at the farm stand. The Double L will stay open as long as you keep coming! How’s that for being different? Just dress warmly knowing that you’ll be shopping under an outdoor tent and bring cash and reusable shopping bags please. If you ask nicely they might even pick you a few squash blossoms for stuffing. The stand is open under the white tent on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 to 7, Saturdays from 10 to 6, and Sundays from 10:30 to 5.
Ambler Farm, 257 Hurlbutt Street, Wilton, Top Pick for Kids
Farmer Ben follows organic land care practices and his produce is picked early in the morning for sale at the stand on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10:30-5 through the end of October. The stand will reopen for the week of Thanksgiving. Bring the kids to see Nutmeg and Clover, their two lambs, plus the bunnies and hens. The farm also sells its organic, heirloom vegetables on Wednesdays at Wilton’s new farmers’ market at the Wilton Public Library. www.amblerfarm.com
A&J Farm Market, 1680 Post Road East, Westport, Top Pick for Local Specialty Foods
The next time you’re heading down the Post Road with the family in the car, turn in when you see the giant pumpkins, corn stalks and Adirondack chairs and you’ll find yourself at A&J’s, that Albert and John’s. But you won’t find John there, just Justin, who’s as knowledgeable about sustainability as any farmer you’ll talk to. Most of the fruit and produce currently in the market is from Connecticut farms and almost all the rest is from New York. The outdoor area is covered in a sea of gorgeous Kabocha, peanut, turban and other exotic looking squash plus giant pumpkins, mums, ornamental gourds, Indian corn, corn stalks and outdoor furniture. Walk in a little closer and you’ll find the onions, garlic, corn, zucchini, eggplant, hot peppers, green beans, herbs, fennel, 4 varieties of apples (Macoun, Honey Crisp, Cortland, and Empire), Bosc and the sweet, almost bite sized Seckle pears.
Head indoors for the lettuce, potatoes, Blue Hills’ Cider, Buell’s Candy Apples, Nodine’s Sausage, Farmer’s Cow Milk, Brooklyn mozzarella, NYC black truffle butter and Sono Baking Company’s breads, pastries and pies (place your Thanksgiving order here). Albert is still deciding about bringing in Heritage turkeys for Thanksgiving but Justin tells me “water core” Fuji apples are coming in the end of October or first week of November. Water core apples have a center core that is translucent and tastes of pure sugar. These are meant to be eaten out of hand and rather quickly before they spoil.
“Customers are our friends and family and some have been coming for 16 years” explains Justin, “which is why we created added savings emails like our recent $5 off any $30 purchase.” Visit A&J’s web site at www.farmmarket.net to sign up. The market will be open throughout the winter because their suppliers either keep crops in controlled atmospheres to keep them from spoiling or grow winter crops in greenhouses using sustainable heat sources.