On a near perfect mid-October weekend day those attending the opening of the 2019-20 Litchfield Indoor Farm Fresh Market at the town’s Community Center were happy to be inside.
Jill Roberts, owner of An Average Jill, was displaying her granola and framed photos replete with inspirational captions from her many hikes throughout the region. She smiled as she greeted friends and customers.
“It’s busier than I thought it would be,” she said. “I don’t know of another nearby indoor farmers market and everything here is quality.”
“Market Master” Kay Carroll was busy taking customers’ debit cards, those who preferred to exchange them for tickets as a method of paying for a purchase instead of the usual cash on the barrel head. Gift certificates are also available at the Market Master’s booth in any denomination.
“We have a real nice atmosphere inside the center. This is an extension of the outdoor market season and we will hold about 20 such days compared to the 40 we hold outdoors,” Carroll said. “We believe the indoor market allows our vendors (who pay a sight fee to be included) a window for selling during the colder weather.”
The market as a whole is non-profit. It is located just off Bantam Road.
Carroll estimates that about 50 percent of the people who frequent the indoor market are from 12 or fewer miles away, with the remainder outside that radius.
“I don’t know of any other indoor markets in the area that are open this year on a continuing basis, although there are a few towns that have indoor markets around the holidays,” she said. “We have produce but we also have artisans who display here. We will probably have locally-grown apples for sale into February.”
The indoor market has been in operation since 2007.
Farmers and vendors include: Woodbury’s An Average Jill (granola, art, honey products); Berry Ledges Apiary of Litchfield (honey); Brookside Farm II of Litchfield (maple syrup);Cato Corner Farm of Colchester (artisanal cheese); Earth’s Palate Farm of Warren (croissants, eggs, living lettuce heads); Goatboy Soaps of New Milford; Laurel Ridge Farm of Litchfield (grass fed beef, pork and lamb, eggs); March Farm of Bethlehem (produce and baked goods); Plum Brook Chocolates of Woodbury (artisanal chocolates); and Stella Rose Farm of Litchfield (micro greens, mushrooms).
Also, The Tasty Empanada of Waterbury (empanadas); Troy Brook Bakery of Litchfield (artisanal baked good-gluten free and traditional); Wave Hill Breads of Norwalk; Wild Carrot Farm of Bantam (organic berries and vegetables); and Z Farm (certified organic grass fed beef chicken, goat, lamb, eggs and vegetables). The market also supports local musicians and artists, and encourages artisans of all types.
One customer, Yaeko Sue Telman of Litchfield, stopped in to pick up a few items.
“I think this is wonderful way to continue to support local farms and others,” Telman said. “We just finished outside and it’s nice that we can continue coming to the market at the Community Center.”
Kevin Macpherson, co-owner of Earth’s Palate Farm, was busy selling hydroponic lettuce to an eager clientele.
“It’s great that we have this place to keep the market going when it gets colder outside,” he said.
For chocolatier Pamela Dugan, owner of Plum Brook Chocolate, this was her first market of the season. She said she prefers not to sell her artisan, delicate chocolates outside during the warmer because the heat might endanger the texture of the product.
“I’ve been coming to the indoor market for several years and it’s a great way for me to get my product in front of an audience,” Dugan said. “I also am able to network and make contacts for parties, weddings and such. It’s such a cozy atmosphere, especially when the weather turns cold.”
The market will run weekly through the end of the year except for the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the Saturday after Christmas Day. Four markets will be held either at the Bantam Borough Hall or the Litchfield Firehouse, since the Community Center cannot accommodate it on some dates. After the first of the year, the indoor market will generally be held every second or third week until mid-June. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Visit www.litchfieldhillsfarmfreshmarket.org for a schedule, updates, or to subscribe to a newsletter. To donate time to the Litchfield Farmers Market, or apply as a vendor or artist, organizers encourage individuals to sign up online. For more information about the market, call Carroll at 860-567-3890.