NEWINGTON – Now through the end of October, residents can pick up fresh produce and locally-made food and goods downtown every Saturday.
The Newington Farmer’s Market opened for its 10th annual season this past Saturday and runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 27.
Vendors set up in Constitution Square, the municipal parking lot behind E. Cedar St. and Market Square.
Market Coordinator Val Ginn reminisced about the event’s humble beginnings this week.
“I started this small market for the good of the town, as a way to give back,” she remembered. “I can’t believe it’s already been ten years.”
In that time, the market has moved from Thursdays to Saturdays and fluctuated in size, with farmers, local shops and food trucks coming and going.
Newington’s market is unique in the fact that vendors are not charged a fee to set up a booth. The only requirement is that they present an insurance card to cover their space, since it is on town property.
Ginn encourages local restaurants to stop by any Saturday to pick up fresh produce. She’s still looking for a bakery to bring fresh specialty breads to the market.
The first week went well, with six vendors and over 30 visitors throughout the morning.
“We started a little later this year,” Ginn noted. “June was too soon for farmers to sell their produce. I don’t think people are used to having it so late in the season but they saw the tents pop up and came by.”
The market remains open in inclement weather, although downpours and thunderstorms can sometimes deter vendors. The town of Newington assists with promotion through a few different avenues.
“The town is very supportive, putting up the banner and signs in the area,” Ginn pointed out. “They’ve been good to me the last ten years.”
The town’s Department of Human Services provides older residents who are struggling financially with vouchers to use at the market. The Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program sent the staff 125 to give out this year.
“It’s for folks over the age of 60, or those who are disabled and living in housing complexes where congregate nutrition programs are provided,” Human Services Director Carol LaBrecque explained. “We give them a booklet of coupons to use at the market.”
As it rounds into its second decade, Ginn hopes the weekly event is more popular than ever.
“I’m hoping the residents of Newington continue to support the market,” she said. “We could all use some fresh fruit and vegetables. And we are losing farmers. We should continue to come out to support them.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.