Everything about the Westport Farmers’ Market annual photo contest is special.
The name — “Young Shoots” — is quite clever.
The idea — inviting children and teenagers to honor food and farmers creatively, through fresh eyes — is important.
The setting for the awards ceremony — Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, the Market’s winter home — is both apt and beautiful.
This year’s recent evening showed off both the bounty of the Farmers’ Market, and the talent of our young local photographers.
First place winners received a cash prize, special swag and the opportunity to lead a food photo shoot with chef Bill Taibe. Second place winners earned $50. Judging was done by local artists, and the public.
First place in the 8-to-10-year-old category went to Kayla Stanley, for “Berries & Beyond.” Second place went to Juliette Newshel, for “Complementary.”
“Berries & Beyond” (Kayla Stanley)
“Complementary” (Juliette Newshel)
The 11-to-14 winner was Camille Mergenthaler (“Uniqueness of a Vegetable”). Sara Stanley placed second (“A Farmer’s Roots”).
“Uniqueness of a Vegetable” (Camille Mergenthaler)
“A Farmer’s Roots” (Sara Stanley)
There were plenty of entries in the 2 youngest categories. However, only one photographer entered the 15-to-18-year-old group. Dylan Kirsch was awarded the prize for “Scenes Around the Market.”
As Election Day looms, lawns and traffic islands will be filled with political signs. And the Westport Police Department will field complaints about the removal of them.
The WPD says:
“Residents and visitors are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property.
“The enforcement of the town’s rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not that of private citizens. The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign, may constitute theft. Entering onto private property to remove signs may also constitute trespassing. Both of these acts can ultimately result in an arrest.
Town property includes traffic islands and road rights of way. It is not advisable to place signs on State of Connecticut property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, or on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway) as the state may remove them.
In addition, signs may not be placed on school property without permission of the superintendent’s office, nor may they be put inside Compo Beach or Longshore, Town Hall, or on trees or utility poles. Signs my not interfere with traffic visiblity.
Signs on private property cannot extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-way. They should be removed within 2 days after the election.
Last month, Allyson Stollenwerck and her 12-year-old son Walker attended Wakeman Town Farms’ “Attainable Sustainable” panel.
They heard about Food Rescue US. The nonprofit’s app enables volunteers to pick up unused food from local restaurants and markets, and bring it to social service agencies.
Allyson and Walker signed up. Their first assignment was to bring leftover donuts and pastries from Coffee An’ to the Westport Housing Authority on Canal Street.
“It was super simple,” they report. “Food Rescue emailed great instructions, and it was a quick trip. We hope others give it a try.”
I have no idea why Coffee An’ does not sell out every day. But if they — and any other food establishment in town — don’t, it’s great to know that Food Rescue can help. (Click here for more information on Food Rescue US).
Walker Stollenwerck, rescuing food from Coffee An’.
The longtime Westport lawyer is a former Connecticut state representative, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, District Court judge, and — following retirement in his 80s — a special counsel attorney.
Now he’s got another accomplishment. At 93, was the oldest runner among nearly 1,200 in the traditional Chilmark Road Race on Martha’s Vineyard. He completed the hilly 3.1-mile course, in hot weather, in 1:08.37.6.
Congratulations, Judge Nevas! (Hat tip: Susan Filan)
How’s this for a delicious combination: The Westport Farmers’ Market, and MoCA Westport.
An opening reception for “Between the Ground and the Sky” — a collaboarative exhibition — is set for August 27 (6 to 8 p.m., MoCA).
Guests can meet featured artists, enjoy custom cocktails from Bar MoCA, and check out the great new garden.
“Between the Ground and the Sky” features more than 50 stunning large-scale photographs by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff from the Who Grows Your Food initiative — a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the Farmers’ Market.
The exhibition also includes two site-specific installations by Kristyna and Marek Milde and the naturalistic works of Donna Forma. Click here for more information.
“Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of the day we lost Rachel. [The 2015 Staples High School graduate — a rising senior at Cornell University, National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died following a rare reaction to common medications.]
“In our ongoing mission to support families with critically ill children, we are holding an outdoor, family-friendly event (October 2, 4 p.m., Compo Beach).
“Rachel’s grandfather “Pa” pledged to walk 1,000 miles in his 80th year to honor Rachel, and raise money for Rach’s Hope. Please join us October 2 to Walk the Extra Mile with Pa and Team Rach’s Hope (or just cheer us on).
“At the end of the 1-mile walk, we will gather to celebrate Pa’s feat — and all your love and dedication to our charity — with a pizza truck, live music by Ellis Island, and beverages. PJs are optional, but encouraged!”
Click here for more information, and to register or donate.
Rachel Doran’s grandfather gets ready to walk. You can too!
The Great American Relay starts in Boston, and ends in Santa Monica, California. There are 415 stages through 18 states, over 38 days.
It starts on 9/11 — the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, and raises funds to support the military and first responders. Runners can dedicate their stage to a first responder or veteran they care about.
Last year, Westonite Jeffrey Wollman was a support runner, from Fairfield to Westport. An avid racer — he’s run 8 marathons since 2015 — he is also the Fleet Feet Westport training group coordinator, and one of their coaches.
He’s participating again this year, as the lead runner from Westport fire headquarters to the Darien Fire Department. He’ll start his 8.3-mile stage on September 13, just before noon.
Eight spots are still available. For more information, or to join or donate, click here.
Dave Wright (Fleet Feet Westport owner, left) and Jeffrey Wollman.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is in Ridgefield. But there’s a strong Westport presence.
Board chair Diana Bowes is a longtime Westporter. Betty Stolpen Weiner is the new director of development. Claudia Lonkin — the visitor experience manager — is also a substitute teacher at Staples. And executive director Cybele Maylone is the granddaughter-in-law of former Board of Education chair Joan Schine.
All are exited about the Aldrich’s Artists at the Table (October 1). The “farm-to-museum” dinner in the Sculpture Garden features a locally sourced 3-course dinner prepared by Hayfields Market Catering. Guests and artists share a meal, engage in conversation, and celebrate local flavors and contemporary art.
The Westporter has been a reporter in Europe, Asia and the Americas; a communications director with NASCAR and the US Olympic ski program; a ghostwriter of 14 memoirs for clients like Rudy Vallee’s wife, a US ambassador, a nuclear physicist, oil baron and more; and a mystery series writer.
Her new novel, “In Terror’s Deadly Clasp,” is based on a true story. It provides a rare, chilling glimpse of terrorists’ daily lives in America as they enjoyed strip clubs, fast food, fat bank accounts and freedom from their religious rules while planning the 9/11 attacks.
“This bullfrog hangs out a foot from my dock on Nash’s Pond. He doesn’t flinch when people walk by (hence my ability to get a closeup). I guess he been here longer than we have, because he’s not budging!”
Westport civic organizations sponsor many good fundraisers. A lot of them are fun.
But for money raised and good times, it’s hard to beat Westport Rotary‘s LobsterFest.
The early fall feast-and-more returns to Compo Beach for its 10th year on Saturday, September 18 (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), following last year’s COVID cancellation.
LobsterFest is a townwide event. Food and entertainment from the Hot Rubber Monkey Band bring old friends together. It’s a great chance to meet (and welcome) newcomers too.
Children’s activities include a magician, glitter tattoos and face painting.
In past years, LobsterFest volunteers served 2,400 lobsters, 300 steaks and 1,600 ears of corn, and countless raw oysters.
In addition to the usual waterside dining option, there’s a new drive-through option for anyone wishing to eat their delicious Maine lobsters (and/or large steaks) at home, or at a less crowded part of the beach.
Funds support dozens of Rotary grants to local non-profits like Mercy Learning and Child Guidance of Mid-Fairfield County, plus humanitarian projects worldwide.
It’s a great value: $70 per person for 2 large lobsters or a 14-ounce New York strip steak — and corn, cole slaw, bread and butter, potato salad, Peppermint Patties, and all the beer or wine you can drink.
Tickets are available only in advance, online at www.westportrotary.org and directly from Westport Rotary Club members.
Here’s your chance to put your (well, someone else’s) money where your (well-satisfied) mouth is.
The WFM has made it to the final round of the American Farmland Trust’s 13th annual contest, ranking the best farmers’ markets in the country. The winner gets $2,500; 2nd and 3rd prizes are $1,500 and $1,000.
From tomorrow (Monday, August 9) through Sunday, August 15, the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting back-to-school supplies. They’ll go to residents of the 2 Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses in the area.
Items needed include new and unused backpacks and lunch boxes, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, crayons, graphing calculators, and diapers.
Donations can be left in the collection bin in the lobby of the Westport Police station, 50 Jesup Road.
For information on Westport Domestic Violence Task Force initiatives, click here.
Work continues on what is rumored to be an Amazon Go store. That’s the new grab-and-go technology. There are no checkout lines; you pay via an app.
The old Barnes & Noble — and Marshalls shoe store next door — has been gutted.
Meanwhile, the adjacent former Mobil Self-Serve has finally been leveled.
On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen were slated to vote on a temporary exit from the construction site, onto Morningside Drive South. Neighbors objected, citing safety issues with nearby Greens Farms Elementary School. The item has been withdrawn from the agenda.
Staples Tuition Grants’ annual awards ceremony is one of the high school’s premier events.
Last year’s was particularly impressive. The organization — founded in 1943, with a $100 grant from the PTA — awarded $350,000 in need-based scholarships, to 129 students. Nearly half are seniors who graduate this month; the rest are Staples grads, currently in college.
The grants — ranging from $500 to $5,000 — will help them attend a total of 77 institutions, in 24 states.
Guest speakers included longtime STG donor Dick Fincher, and past recipient/current educator, EMT and Westport Local Press publisher Jaime Bairaktaris.
But — as always — the “stars” were the students. To learn more about Staples Tuition Grants, and donate, click here.
Speaking of teenagers: Westport Farmers’ Market‘s 5th annual Young Shoots Photography Contest opens soon. And you can be even younger than 13 to enter.
There are 3 age categories: 8-10 years old, 11-14 and 15-18. Any photo taken at one of the Thursday Farmers’ Markets is eligible. Judging is by a panel of local artists, and the public.
The contest runs from a week from today (June 10) through July 18. Winners — who earn cash prizes, special swag and membership to local art organizations — will be celebrated at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, with catering by Sugar & Olives. Click here to submit photos.
“Starstem” by Calista Finkelstein placed 1st in the 2016 contest, in the 8-10 category.
What does it mean to be Asian American? That’s the title of a conversation next Thursday (June 10, 7 p.m.) Presented by the Westport Library, TEAM Westport and AAPI Westport, there’s limited seating at the library. But everyone around the world can tune in virtually.
Professors Erika Lee and Jason Chang are the guests. The discussion will be moderated by Westporter Heather Lee. They’ll explore Asian American life through a wide historic lens, as well as the current wave of anti-Asian discrimination and physical attacks, and AAPI communities uniting with others to create an inclusive and equitable society.
To register for in-person seating at the Westport Library, click here. To register for the Zoom link, click here.
A scene from Westport’s Asian-American rally, outside the Library.
An event last night at Mancini Salon honored owner Carla Morales. The staff surprised her with a party, thanking her for all she did to get them through the pandemic year. She kept all her employees on, under difficult circumstances — and kept them and their patrons safe. The salon reopened exactly a year ago.
Congratulations, Carla. Here’s wishing you and Mancini a great summer! (Hat tip: Patti Brill)
Westport Country Playhouse’s popular Script in Hand play reading series continues with “The Savannah Disputation.” The comedy — filmed on the Playhouse stage — will be broadcast virtually. It premieres June 14 at 7 p.m., and streams on demand from June 15 through 20.
In “Savannah Disputation,” Mary and Margaret are feisty Catholic sisters living in Georgia, who forget about Southern hospitality when a young Pentecostal missionary knocks at their front door to shake up their beliefs. The women call in their local priest for backup, in this entertaining examination of what it means to truly believe.
Tomorrow (Thursday, May 20) is Asian Gold Ribbon Day. Gold ribbons — symbolizing opposition to anti-Asian violence — will be available for pickup tomorrow at the Westport Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot), and today and tomorrow at Arogya (131 Post Road East).
Speaking of entertainment: Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a free broadcast series — presents its first audio play, “The Return,” on Saturday, May 29, (noon; rebroadcast on Sunday, May 30, 4 p.m.). It’s on all WSHU stations, and www.wshu.org.
“The Return” is a haunting tale, based on a Thai folk legend. It takes place after World War II, when a young soldier returns to his village to reunite with his wife and new baby. He is finally home — yet he feels completely alone.
Run time is 35 minutes. A brief discussion with the director follows. Click here for more details.
After broadcast on WSHU, the show will be accessible on the Playhouse website from May 31 through June 20.
Speaking of signs: This one on a fence near North Avenue is a little hard to figure out at first — it’s “Stop Noise Pollution / Ban Leaf Blowers” rather than “Stop Noise Pollution Ban” — but it reflects the sentiment of a segment of Westporters.
Once again, the Westport Farmers’ Market has transitioned from its winter indoor season to the 6-month outdoor one. Executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall celebrates by nominating a stalwart support as “06880”’s Unsung Hero of the Week. She writes:
Becoming a legend takes devotion.
When I embarked on my early days at the Farmers’ Market, I kept hearing about a legendary farmer. I heard about Sal Gilbertie’s books, his knowledge of organics, his family business in Westport, his devotion to his church, and his community involvement in Easton and Westport with agriculture.
Each time his name was mentioned, it came with a compliment and admiration.
Sal Gilbertie, in the field.
When I met Sal, we formed a friendship that has lasted over a decade. He always has a quick, warm smile and a hug for people dear to him.
Though I want to say ours is a special friendship, the reality is that Sal makes everyone feel as if they are special to him.
For me, he has supported my desire to help local farmers and small mom-and-pop businesses. When I was new and didn’t know anyone — and I wasn’t a farmer myself — he took time to introduce me to other farmers. He put his seal of approval on my efforts.
After my successful first summer at the Westport Farmers’ Market, I had an idea. One weekend that fall, Sal and I went to an agricultural event. I saw his beautiful old truck with the Gilbertie’s Herb Garden logo.
I asked, “What would you think about the Farmers’ Market renting a greenhouse at Gilbertie’s and opening a winter market?” Without hesitation he said, “Sure!”
One thing I love about farmers in general: Their word is their bond. Sal is a great example of this type of honor. His willingness to help people, to believe in them, and his desire to support his community gave us a home for the past 10 years. It is a winter event haven for many Westporters.
Year after year, this family-owned business continues to grow. They’ve watched farmland turn to houses and businesses come and go, yet they have survived (and thrived) in the same location.
With Sal at the helm, they reinvented their business as demands have changed. It is exciting to think about celebrating this family, this man and this business as a community.
Sal now spends most of his time in Easton. He continues to farm organically, and recently embarked on a micro-greens business at the state-of-the-art facility he created there.
I am jealous of his energy, which comes from love. He loves what he does. He loves the land. He loves his family and the business they created. With that kind of love, energy is boundless.
Sal is devoted to his faith. If you attend his church on Easter or most holidays, you’ll find the altar covered in flowers. Sal is the reason it brims with greenery. He carries truckloads of plants inside, and places each one himself.
Each morning as I head to work or get the kids to school, I see Sal’s car in the parking lot for morning Mass.
There are many more stories I could share about this man who has been such a great friend to me and the Westport Farmers’ Market. With the type of devotion Sal has, he is truly a legend – and in this case, an Unsung Hero.
One more shot of our Unsung Hero.
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email firstname.lastname@example.org)
One of the surest signs of spring is the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 13. The Market will run every Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through mid-November, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Cross Culture Kombucha will offer a special toast, to celebrate WFM’s perseverance through the pandemic.
The Market’s shopping experience and programming (including Get Growing, Music @ the Market, Artist Alley, Chef @ the Market, Friend of the Market and Young Shoots) will operate much like before COVID — while honoring all state and local health guidelines.
Over 50 vendors will participate this season (click here for the full list), with over 30 on site each Thursday. New vendors include
State and local officials wanted to support for outdoor dining. What better spot to do it than an actual restaurant.
Yesterday, the group gathered at Tarantino’s. They discussed a new state expansion of rules, and the possibility of making them permanent. Removing parking, adding seating on Railroad Place, and the use of town- and state-owned parking lots were among the concepts.
Dining and discussion at Tarantino’s (clockwise from left): 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell, State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Stephanie Thomas.
A few spots remain for tomorrow’s (Saturday, May 1) Fleet Feet 5K and kids’ fun runs. The youngsters start at 9:30 a.m., with the 5K following at 10. Click here to register.
Both kick off the 2nd annual Fitness & Health Expo. The event takes place all along Main Street (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but many more businesses and organizations are involved.
Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.
Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!
Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush. It’s sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association.
Jill Bodach is an adjunct professor at Fairfield University. Describing Charlie Capalbo — the Fairfield resident whose grandmother is Westport writer Ina Chadwick, and who has fiercely battled cancer twice — she says:
“Over the years, I have had the privilege of being allowed into some of my students’ most intimate moments: the grief of losing loved ones, the end of relationships, engagements and graduate school acceptances, but never has a student’s story impacted me as deeply as Charlie’s.
He was enrolled in my Creative Writing: Fiction 1 class this semester but before classes could really begin, I learned he wouldn’t complete the semester due to his treatment. I wanted to help. Maybe it was because I saw this handsome, curly-haired young man’s face on my class roster and thought, ‘Wow, the world can be so incredibly unfair sometimes. Maybe it was because I’m a parent myself. Maybe it was because my son Jack was very sick when he was born and my husband and I endured the mental and emotional rollercoaster of having a hospitalized child. Maybe it was because as we emerged from the dark isolation of the pandemic I felt the need to connect with others deeply and more fervently than ever before.
When Jill’s trainer challenged her to run 100 miles in May, she saw it as a way to help Charlie.
When he told Jill during a text that he uses Uber Eats regularly — and she thought about the important role food plays in our lives — she had an idea for a fundraiser.
“I will think of Charlie with every step I take,” she writes of her 100-mile goal. “I am in awe of his courage, bravery, resilience and grit …. Someday Charlie will be back on the ice, back on campus and back to enjoying his life, but in the meantime, I’m grateful to be able to help.”
All proceeds from “Fuel for the Fight” will purchase Uber Eats gift cards for the Capalbos. Their expenses have been enormous. Click here to contribute.
Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo — with food.
Attention, middle schoolers looking for an in-person social justice theater camp:
Check out Camp WCP. That’s the newest offering from the Westport Country Playhouse. It runs July 6 through 30, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the rehearsal studio.
Actin will be taught in the morning, playwriting/production in the afternoon. Young artists will create original pieces focusing on “What does home mean to you?” Working with playwright and University of Michigan professor José Casas, they’ll weave their stories into a play.
On July 31, students will share their original creations at the Playhouse. with family and friends.
Speaking of farms and food, here’s a way to keep ’em down on the farm: Pizza.
On Tuesdays starting May 4 (4 to 7 p.m.), “Tony Pizza Napolitano” will make 16-inch wood-fired cheese pizzas live at the Wakeman Town Farm oven.
Tony lives in Weston, and the pizzas he makes at The Grange are an 0688e legend. He uses “only top-quality local, organic ingredients — and love.” Click here for a rave review from Stephanie Webster’s CTBites.
Go to Facebook. Find “Tony Pizza Napolitano,” click “like” and follow the page. The weekly menu is posted every Monday morning. To order, send Tony a private message for a time slot. Once it’s confirmed, pick it up the next day at the Cross Highway farm..
It’s a perfect dinner — particularly if you’re already at Wakeman Field picking up the kids.
The Westport Library is seeking candidates for its Board of Trustees. Of particular interest: people with expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge and understanding of current trends in digital media and information technology, or a background in municipal government and/or not-for-profit law.
Trustees serve 4-yeare terms. Click here for more information.Interested candidates should email a resume and letter of interest to email@example.com. The deadline is April 23.
Coke Anne Murchison Wilcox — member of a famed Texas family — majored in architecture at Princeton, then studied at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture. She worked for several architects, including Philip Johnson. In the early 1990s Wilcox purchased The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. She and her husband, Jarvis Wilcox, have 3 adult children.
Charlotte Rogan spent 25 years as a writer before her first novel was published in 2012. The Lifeboat was included on The Huffington Post’s 2015 list of “21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should read,” and has been translated into 26 languages. Her second novel, Now and Again, continued to explore issues of morality and justice. Rogan attended Greens Farms Academy when it was an all-girl’s school, studied architecture at Princeton University, and worked for a large construction firm before turning to writing.
On Thursday, March 11, the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. They’ll consider a text amendment that would continue outdoor dining for over 80 restaurants — which would otherwise expire March 31 — until further notice.
The text amendment would also be expanded to include certain retail businesses.
The last Farmers’ Market of the winter is an important one.
On Thursday, March 11 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Market partners with Sustainable Westport to replenish 2 food pantries: Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, and Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Both are running low.
Non-perishable items (canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, jams, sauces, etc.) can be dropped off at Farmers’ Market (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Road).
It’s rare to see canned food at the Westport Farmers’ Market. A week from tomorrow, it will be a very lovely sight.
Actually, a proud great-great-grandson. His great-great-grandfather, James Barnes Sr., was the first tender for what is now called the William F. Cribari Bridge.
Seth has followed the debate over the 133-year-old bridge’s future closely. So when he saw a photo of an innovative solution — a road in the Netherlands goes under the water, so boats can sail above it — he thought of us.
(Photo courtesy of @alic3lik)
That’s thinking waaaaay outside the bridge — er, the box.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)