I’ve written before about the Westport Farmers’ Market’s “Young Shoots” photo contest.
It’s open to 3 age groups: 8-10, 11-14, 15-18. They can take shots every Thursday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Fruits, vegetables, flowers, people — they’re all there, showing off the vitality of the market in colorful, imaginative ways.
First-place winners receive a $100 cash prize, and the chance to lead a food photo shoot with Bill Taibe (chef/owner of The Whelk, Ka Wa Ni and Jesup Hall). Second-place winners get $50.
Those are nice rewards. But the contest also changes lives.
Last year, Lillie Fortino was art coordinator for the Norwalk Housing Authority’s after-school program. She thought the contest would be great for her kids.
Many had never been to a farmers’ market. They were hesitant at first. But they trusted Fortino, and her excitement fed theirs.
They brought a completely fresh eye — as children and photographers — to the bursting-with-goods-and-activity Imperial Avenue lot.
They also experimented with foods they’d never tried, like snap peas and soft cheeses, and bought flowers they’d never seen.
A talented girl named Anastasia Davis won her 11-14 age group.
Taibe invited Anastasia to Kawa Ni and the Whelk. There, she tried even more foods. Nothing was off limits.
The contest sparked a partnership between the Norwalk Housing Authority and Westport Arts Center. Fortino has a new job — director of education for the WAC — and this year she included work by NHA youngsters in the arts center’s student show. One boy proudly sold a piece there.
Ahead: collaboration between the NHA and the WAC’s artists’ residency program.
Everyone knows the Westport Farmers’ Market vendors grow great food. Who knew the market helps young kids grow too?