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Saturday, February 22 News

Fresh start: New season at Westport Farmers Market busy despite rain

Ali Farina and co-worker Adam Hofmeister were looking for a place to have lunch Thursday when, Farina said, they "stumbled on" the Westport Farmers Market on Imperial Avenue, which had just opened for a new season.

"I had no idea this place was here," she said, eating a slice of pizza while Hofmeister chowed down on a burger. "It's a great place. I love it."

Farina and Hofmeister were two of the more than 800 people at the weekly market's reopening at the Imperial Avenue commuter lot, said Lori Cochran, the market's executive director.

Fresh fare will be on offer there Thursdays through early November, while during winter, the market takes shelter indoors at Gilberties on Sylvan Lane.

"It was a wonderful turnout despite the rainy weather," she said, noting that there were also 32 vendors, including two food trucks, on hand providing a variety of food and other items.

Cochran said all of the vegetables sold at the market are organically grown and many of the vendors selling prepared foods use organic products in their recipes.

"Our goal is to have you come here and create meals and also do your grocery shopping," she said.

Among the vendors was Vivian Templeton of Arcadia Farm in Southbury. "We had been selling only to friends and family," said Templeton who runs the business -- that offers eggs, maple syrup and other items --with her daughter, Morgan. "This is our first year selling at a farmers market and we are really excited to be here."

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Following is the lineup of vendors on hand for the weekly market:
The Local Catch, Two Guys From Woodbridge, Sankow Beaver Brook Farm, Skinny Pines, LLC, Riverbank Farm, SoNo Baking Co., Fort Hill Farm, Beltane Farm, Arogya and The Stand.
Also, Boxcar Cantina, Sport Hill Farm, Oxhollow Farm, Huckleberry Artisan Pastries, Raus Coffee Co., Om Champagne Tea, Sugar & Olives and Aradia Farm.
And Moorefield Herb Farm, Connecticut Grown, Silvermine Apairy, Mystic Cheese, Muddy Feet Flower Farm, Simply Delicious and Wave Hill Bread.

James Hibler of the Champaign Tea Co. was serving up samples of his home-brewed and -bottled probiotic drink. One taker was Harrison King, a Staples High School student who said he and others from the school came to the market as part of a culinary arts project.

King sampled a few of the drinks, saying he liked one made from turmeric, jalapeno and black pepper.

"It wasn't all that bad," King said.

Ana Geismar of the SoNo Bakery Co. said they sell their wares at a number of farmers markets, including Greenwich and New Haven. "It's a great way for people to find out what we have to offer," she said, adding that runs the gamut from breads and focaccia to pastries and coissants.

"We make everything fresh daily in our Norwalk bakery," she added.

Also on hand were First Selectman Jim Marpe and Selectman Helen Garten, who stopped for a while to toast opening day -- with a kale-based "green juice" -- provided by Cochran.

"This market is one of the things that makes Westport a great place to live," said Marpe. "There's a variety of vendors and farmers, and a lot of locally grown items."

"This is the place to be on Thursdays," added Garten. "It's just a great place."

The Westport Farmers market is open weekly on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Nov. 6 at the Imperial Avenue commuter lot. Each Thursday, area farm-to-table chefs will lead cooking demonstrations. And the first Thursday of each month, the market will host an Artist Alley featuring handcrafted products by local artists.