Market Review: Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market – August 25, 2013
I want to preface this blog by giving a huge THANK YOU to Liss Flint, the photographer of the great pictures you will see below. Stop by her facebook page and check it out, if you have a chance!
There are few things I love more than attending local farmers’ markets during the summer, especially on days when the weather is as fantastic as it was this weekend here in Connecticut. In our part of the state, we are proud to host the largest farmers’ market in New England—the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market, located on the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry. I am fortunate enough to live very close to this market and more Sundays than not, I can be found wandering the countless vendors and farm stands who display their goods at this destination market, which draws crowds well into the hundreds every weekend. When we discussed posting a blog about a local farmers market review, I was more than happy to offer to write it and naturally, the Coventry market was my top pick (as if I needed another excuse to visit!).
As it happens, this past Sunday was a very special market day and I did more than just attend. Once a month, the market hosts a swap, which is an opportunity for market-goers to bring a homemade item and swap with other participants. It’s a great way to show off your weekend kitchen creations and try some delicious goods from other swappers! This was my first time and I made a peach salsa from the peaches from my tree at home. I swapped my salsa for some shepherd’s pie, a few varieties of jam and jellies, lavender sugar mix, plums and more. It was a great, fun experience and I’m anxious to try out everything I brought home!
In addition to the swap, each Sunday market has a theme that the majority of vendors and farm stands try to work into their goods for that day. Sunday’s market featured a theme of heirloom vegetables. As some of you may know, these are vegetable varieties that have been maintained over a period of sometimes hundreds of years, and whose seeds have been harvested and replanted to maintain the variety over time. These vegetables are hardy, nutritious, delicious and many times, absolutely beautiful. The colors of certain types of heirloom vegetables are usually not what you’d see in the grocery store. Heirloom tomatoes can be purple, green, yellow, orange, spotted—pretty much anything goes! Amongst all the farmers selling these beautiful fruits and veggies were countless samples, which I fully took advantage of! Most of my heirloom sampling was of watermelons and tomatoes, all of which was amazing. One of the largest attractions at yesterday’s market was the long table of heirloom tomatoes for market-goers to sample. The line was extremely long and by the time I made my way to the sample tables, I’d had my fill, but I got a good look at some of the fantastic varieties that were displayed and couldn’t get over the colors of the tomatoes on the tables. As you can see from these photos, taken by extremely talented market photographer, Liss Flint, the colors truly are incredible!
But vegetables aren’t the only thing market-goers can purchase while exploring what farmers and vendors bring. In addition to enjoying live music while browsing, you will find goods like cheeses, yarns, meats, various soaps and other gift items. There really is something for everyone! After my samples and an initial loop around the market grounds to see what I wanted to buy, I decided on some yellow summer squash and zucchini, as well some sweet and tangy apple marinade from a vendor called Dragon’s Blood Elixir. Definitely my favorite market vendor and this particular marinade has become a staple for grilling chicken in my kitchen. Towards the end of my visit, it was getting on towards lunch time and I grabbed a pear and blue cheese scone to snack on as I made my way home—definitely a good choice!
Growing up in the country and being raised on local produce has given me an appreciation for the hard work that farmers put into their products, and while it is a lot of fun to visit these markets, it’s also a great way to show them support for what they do. This particular market is, in my opinion, an excellent example of how important it is to support local farmers and how successful markets can be! It certainly is a favorite stop on my list of summer activities and is always worth checking out if you’re ever in the area!
Do you visit any farmers’ markets in your neck of the woods? Tell us about your favorite!