Coventry farmers' market is finalist in national contest
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Coventry - posted Tue., Aug. 9, 2011
State Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky is encouraging all Connecticut residents to cast their vote for the state’s own Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market in the national Great Barn Giveaway contest. The market is one of three finalists from across the country remaining in the running to win a 24-by-36-foot open-air barn valued at $80,000. The contest is a project of W.H. Silverstein, Inc., the Farmers’ Market Coalition, and the American Farmland Trust.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to put Connecticut agriculture on the United States map,” said Reviczky. “Despite our state’s diminutive size, its heart and passion are huge, and our farmers put that care and love into everything they grow and raise here. Connecticut has a thriving, extremely diverse agricultural industry, which is showcased in our state’s 125 farmers’ markets. Please take a moment to vote to recognize one of those markets as the best and brightest in the country.”
According to its website, this year the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market has been cited as the best Connecticut farmers' market by both “Boston Magazine” and “Yankee Magazine.” “The market draws 75,000 visitors annually,” according to the site, “and generates sales exceeding $350,000.” The year 2011 marks the seventh season overall for the market, and its fourth year at the Nathan Hale Homestead on South Street.
The summer market lists a total of 59 vendors selling a wide variety of products, from homemade pickles to soap, from fresh fish to gluten-free bread. There are fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, sauces and dog treats. There are hand-crafted earrings and fresh flowers. There are ready-to-eat items such as pizza, kettle corn and Italian ices. Vendors come from all over the state, from as far away as Guilford to just down the street in Coventry.
Each week of the summer market features a theme, with upcoming events including Old-Fashioned Corn Roast and Youth Market (Aug. 14), Summer Melon Soiree and Peach Promenade (Aug. 21) and Heirloom Tomato Festival (Aug. 28). Well-mannered and leashed dogs are welcomed every week at the Coventry Farmers’ Market.
“Farmers’ markets contribute significantly to our state’s economy,” said Reviczky. “We estimate that $3 million passes through Connecticut’s markets each year. That money goes directly to the farmers and producers, who put it right back into their local communities. Overall, agriculture contributes $3.5 billion annually to the state’s economy and represents at least 20,000 jobs. These markets are an essential component of that equation.”
According to Winter Caplanson, one of the volunteers who organizes and manages the market, Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market was selected as one of the three finalists for the barn contest based on its application essay, community support for the market, and the market’s vision for the future. The other two farmers’ markets selected as finalists are in Hemlock, Mich., and Borough of Chatham, N.J. If Coventry wins, the market will use the barn to house demonstrations, classes, exhibits, live music, and other community events. The outdoor market runs every Sunday through October, rain or shine, and Caplanson said that the new structure would provide welcome shade and shelter from inclement weather.
“Please take a moment to vote for Connecticut agriculture, and help this market win an $80,000 barn,” Reviczky said. “In today’s challenging economic climate, it’s an absolute no-brainer. A simple vote could bring this asset to our state, free of charge, no strings attached. It’s a home-run for our community.”
It is the height of the growing season in Connecticut, and all manner of fresh produce is available at local markets. The Coventry Summer Farmers’ Market runs weekly through Nov. 20 at 2299 South St., in Coventry, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving marks the opening of the winter market, hosted Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Coventry High School, 78 Ripley Hill Road, in Coventry. The winter market features more than 30 local vendors from the end of November through March 6.
For more information, visit the market’s website at www.coventryfarmersmarket.com. You can also sign up for a weekly newsletter which “delivers the latest information about our growers and products, events, guest vendors, entertainment, programs, and more,” according to the site.
Voting for the barn contest continues through Aug. 15, and can be done online at http://www.greatbarngiveaway.com/ through a simple and quick process that requires no registration or commitment.