Farmers’ markets are icons of the growing season, but they have become much more than places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. There are opportunities nearby for shopping several days during the week.
The Wilton Farmers’ Market will reopen on Wednesdays, noon to 5, June 10, and continue through Oct. 28 at the Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road.
The weekly outdoor market features local produce, baked goods, organic dips and salads, jams and jellies, olive oil, pasta, pesto, mozzarella and fresh bread plus other homemade food items. But there will be something new as well — membership.
Up until this year, the market had been coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce, led by Janeen Leppert. A former Westport market assistant vendor, Elizabeth Beller, has stepped in to help balance the workload.
“As the market grows, it’s more than just a couple of hours a week. It’s like a job,” Beller told The Bulletin.
In addition to being an assistant vendor in Westport, Beller spent three years as a chair of the board of the Wakeman Town Farm. Those two experiences were valuable to her knowledge of farmers’ markets, as she said she “got a chance to learn how everything functions.”
Weeks ago, Beller held a planning session with roughly 15 vendors at Ambler Farm to discuss goals for the year. Among others, one of her plans is to start up a membership system. Members would receive a tote bag with a farmers’ market logo, and when they go around to shop would get a discount from each vendor.
She also plans to offer free tent space to a different nonprofit organization each week so it can promote its cause. One chef per week from nearby venues like Barcelona (Westport) or Bar Sugo (Norwalk) will come to host a food demonstration.
“It’s a small market. It doesn’t have room to grow too much,” said Beller. “We’re looking to increase product diversity and add more colors to the market. For example, I’ve even got somebody who’s selling natural skin care products trying to join the market.”
Above all, Beller’s ultimate goal is “to bring people around to the idea of buying their products locally, whenever possible. We want to strengthen relationships between restaurants and local farmers.”
She then said, “And also it is to educate people on what goes into making the products and understanding what a seasonal fruit or vegetable is.”