The past few years have seen a spike in the amount and popularity of Farmers’ Markets, and the New Canaan Farmers' Market is no exception. Every Saturday morning from May through November vendors and townspeople crowd into (and around) the Municipal Parking Lot across from the town library. They come here to shop for local produce, pick up breakfast or lunch, and mingle with family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. The market is still small compared to others in the area, but the number of vendors and buzz around it is on the rise as more and more people seek quality, fresh food and want to know where it comes from.
It’s a Saturday ritual among market-goers to stop by, grab some breakfast, and fill up their canvas totes with fresh produce for the week. A healthy blueberry oatmeal breakfast cookie from Whistle Stop Bakery and a Cold Roman from Raus – a cold, slightly sweet, creamy coffee treat – make a solid duo. Produce-wise there are a couple of Certified Organic farms – Shortt’s has our favorite kale and Riverbank has excllent salad mixes and herbs – as well as several non-certified local farms. This week there were great plums, tomatoes, peppers, corn, and baby eggplant. In addition to produce, there’s dairy from Smyth’s Trinity Farm – rumored to make the best chocolate milk on the planet! – as well as eggs, poultry, beef, and pork products from Greyledge Farm in Roxbury.
For lunch, Beldotti’s tomato, pesto, and mozzarella sandwich on their fresh-baked bread is a market standby. Newcomer Skinny Pines’ top-notch brick-oven pizza is a welcome addition, as is New Canaan’s Bistro du Soleil with their great selection of fresh salads ready to take home. I tried and loved a vegan Edamame Bean Salad with garbanzos, corn, kidney beans, quinoa, and sesame – the perfect remedy to my Cold Roman-induced caffeine jitters. Several vendors, including Fairfield County favorite Michelle’s Pies, sell fresh-baked pies, cakes, and pastries that are ideal for summer sweet tooths with no desire to turn on the oven. And don’t forget Uncle Buck’s gorgeous arrangements of oriental lilies... they’re pretty and fragrant enough to make you forget you’re dripping in sweat and carrying thirty pounds of produce – imagine how nice you’ll feel looking at them in the comfort of your AC’d living room.
The market’s not perfect – parking is a bit hectic, for example. It would be amazing if there were a way to avoid having parked cars go right up to market borders, but it’s unlikely in this parking-starved town. There are also no tables to sit and enjoy your market meal, so it’s best to bring chairs or a blanket and picnic on the grass. Lastly, how great would it be to have guest chef demos at the market, like Westport does? With all the popular restaurants around town, it would be a fun way for local chefs to show off their versatility and home cooks to pick up on creative ways to put the sometimes unfamiliar produce we see at the markets to use in our own kitchens.
These improvements would make the already-popular market even better by boosting the community aspect of it because, beyond the importance of buying fresh food and supporting local growers, by far the best part of going there each week is the exchange that takes place among shoppers, growers, and vendors. Joking around with a sleepy farmer in the Raus coffee line, witnessing a four-year-old’s mystification before the concept of edible zucchini flowers, bantering with the woman weighing my tomatoes over our mutual obsession with photographing each meal we consume – these interactions just don’t happen in the aisles of your freezing, neon-lit, slightly mildew-smelling chain supermarket. So do something more fun: visit New Canaan or whichever market you can get to this week, take advantage of the bounty of summer produce, and have a great time doing it.
For a complete list of vendors and more info the Market, visit http://newcanaanfarmersmarket.net/wordpress/.
[Photography courtesy of Kevney Moses]