Preston farmers' market looking to expand
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Preston - posted Tue., Jul. 5, 2011
As local farmers begin harvesting the summer’s produce, the annual crop of farmers’ markets is sprouting new outlets for locally-grown vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Preston’s weekly market, conducted on Saturdays at Preston Plains School at the junction of Routes 164 and 2, is currently looking for new vendors to expand its offerings, said Market Master David Przygoda.
“This year we started [the season] a little earlier,” Przygoda said. The 2011 market, held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, got underway June 18 and will encompass 20 weeks through Oct. 29, just prior to Halloween. The market is organized by the Preston Recreation Department.
The July 2 installment included just three vendors - fewer than usual. Lori Burton of D & L Farms in Ledyard, who was selling pesticide-free cucumbers and tomatoes from her farm, said that some vendors may have taken the Independence Day weekend off.
She said that she and her husband, David, also participate in farmers’ markets in Mystic and elsewhere, but like the convenience of selling their goods closer to home.
“We go where we don’t have to travel too far,” she said. “We don’t like to be wasting travel time and gas when there’s a lot of work to be done in the garden.
“All the stuff was picked this morning, so you know it’s fresh,” she added. “And it’s pesticide-free. We don’t put anything on it that we wouldn’t want to ingest ourselves.”
Burton said she was hopeful that the Preston market would grow as the season progresses, especially with this year’s new location at a busy intersection.
“It’s a lot about word of mouth and getting signs up,” she said. “If people in Preston don’t want to drive… they can get fresh stuff without leaving their town.”
Besides Burton, two other vendors were selling handmade items with farm roots. Judy Gasparino, of Preston, displayed her jewelry made from tiny dried flowers grown in her garden, along with flower and herb plants, fragrant wreaths and sachets crafted from lavender, and even a few yellow squash.
Nearby, Helen Krasun, of Bozrah, displayed an array of hand-crocheted and knitted alpaca and lambs’ wool hats, many of them felted for extra warmth. “It’s kind of out of season,” she admitted, “but I did the Norwich Farmers’ Market on Wednesday and I sold.”
Bonnie Berry, of Preston, who stopped by for some vegetables, said she was happy to have a local farmers’ market. “I live two seconds away,” she said. “I’d seen it last week, but I thought it had something to do with graduation.”
She was hopeful that the market would succeed as summer continues. “I think it’s going to take off,” she said.
Przygoda said that at $45 for the entire season, vendor space at the market is priced competitively among other local markets. Vendors may also set up for $10 for a single weekend. Interested vendors may visit the market website at www.prestonfarmersmarket.org, or call Przygoda at 860-889-2482 for more information.
“We’re looking for baked goods, churches [with goods to sell], kettle corn, hot dogs and burgers,” said Przygoda. Plans are underway to host special event weekends for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, a possible safety day run by the local fire department, and other special events to augment the produce offerings and attract business. Events will be posted on the website as plans develop.