Constant change keeps Ellington Farmers' Market fresh
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Wed., May. 25, 2011
The Ellington Farmers’ Market recently got its 2011 season underway, and promises to keep with its winning formula of bringing a variety of vendors and products to the community at Arbor Park every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Oct. 22.
Each week, several farms and vendors set up shop – some are regulars that come every week, and some only make occasional appearances. As the season changes, so do the offerings.
Mike Hoffman and wife Luann have been participating in the market for four years, with their “Luann’s Bakery” stand.
“Our biggest things are the breads and pies,” Hoffman said. “We sell a lot of muffins and cookies, too.”
The Hoffmans also recently began selling pasture-raised ground beef.
“It’s a good variety of products, and it does change on a weekly basis,” Hoffman said of the market as a whole, “especially as farmers start bringing different produce. We have food any way you want it – eat it now, take it home and eat it, or take it home and plant it.”
Vinnie Cianfriani, Jr., has been coming to the farmers’ market longer than any current vendor. Cianfriani is a grower/merchandiser who runs Vinnie’s Little Acre at 255 Main St. in Windsor Locks.
“We sell fresh, quality produce, straight out of the field,” he said. “We had spinach today. Next week, we’ll have radishes and scallions, and then we’ll get into beets and squashes.”
Cianfriani said that during the peak Saturdays, he often makes two trips from his farm, in order to keep his stand at the market stocked for the whole morning.
Donna Yurgel of Belly Acres Farm in Tolland, which specializes in eggs, but sells many types of produce, as well as flower plants, said they have been taking part in the market for the past three years.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s fun, but it’s work. It’s also social hour.”
Yurgel, like many of the vendors, said the market is very much worthwhile for their business, not just because they are able to sell product, but because being at the farmers’ market provides its own customer research.
“It’s learning the demands of everybody,” she said. “We learn things like we need to grow more lettuce, because we sell out by 9:30.”
Yurgel said the farm also plans ahead, as far as what products to grow, based on previous feedback from customers.
“This is the first year we decided to grow some radishes, and we sold out by a quarter after 9 today,” she said. “So, we’re going to go home and plant more radishes.”
Ellington native Marie Bedor of Toes to Nose Soaps sells all-natural, hand-made soaps. She said she’s been coming to the market for about four years, and looks forward to it every week.
“I love it,” she said. “I work in an office all week long, so this is a good way for me to stay in touch with what’s going on in town, see people that I haven’t seen for a while, and meet new people. It’s just a lovely way to spend the morning, and it’s always changing.”
“We have a nice crowd, and it’s run right,” Cianfriani said of the market. “We’re not the biggest, but we do a fair job. The customers are steady. We see a lot of the same people every Saturday.”
It’s a nice community atmosphere, where we can visit with friends and neighbors,” Hoffman said, adding that besides the constant rotation of vendors and goods, the farmers’ market also keeps it interesting by hosting different musical acts.
“We try to put a little entertainment in and keep people here a little longer,” he said. “Something is going on every week, to give people a reason to come besides just buying something – so it’s more than just like going to a store.”
The farmers’ market also invites guests and partners with other organizations for special days.
The Ellington Farmers’ Market will host a “Dog Day” on June 4, featuring a demonstration by the Connecticut State Police Canine Unit, Sadie Mae Animal Rescue League, and Paws 4 Treats.
The canine officer and his four-legged partner will be presenting demonstrations and meeting the public from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Dogs looking for new homes through the Sadie Mae Foundation will also be on hand, as will specialty items from Paws 4 Treats.
For a complete list of entertainment and vendors, and other information about the Ellington Farmers’ Market, visit www.ellingtonfarmersmarket.com.