Tag Archives: Westport Farmer’s Market

Aw, Shoot!

The Westport Farmers’ Market is — like every other public gathering — socially distanced.

But that did not prevent dozens of young photographers from getting up close and personal with the produce and products at our town’s favorite Thursday event.

This year, 8- to 18-year-old entrants in the “Young Shoots” contest had a choice. They could showcase produce, flowers, prepared food — or anything else representative of the Farmers’ Market — at home or at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Just as they’ve done constantly over the past 6 months, the young artists demonstrated resiliency, creativity, and spunk.

Plus a great eye.

Awards were presented — socially distanced, of course — at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center last week.

Alexander Sod won 1st place in the 11-14-year-old category for his photo, “Unraveling.” His shot also captured the overall “People’s Choice” award.

“Unraveling” (Alexander Sod)

The contest is “an incredible way to show both my creativity and my love for food –the taste, its shapes, patterns, and textures you can’t find anywhere except in nature,” he says.

Rose Porosoff placed 2nd in that age group, for “Veins.”

Other winners include:

8-10-year-old:

  • 1st place: Kayla Stanley for “Rinsing Strawberries”
  • 2nd place: Nakul Sethi for “The Sunset Focaccia.

“Rinsing Strawberries” (Kayla Stanley)

15 to 18-year-old

  • 1st place: Morgan Freydl for “Seacoast Mushrooms”
  • 2nd place: Anooshka Sethi for “Sunshine Toast.”

“Seacoast Mushrooms” (Morgan Freydl)

First place was worth $100, plus WFM merchandise. Runners-up  get $50 each plus WFM swag,

Lori Cochran-Dougall, executive director of WFM, says Young Shoots is more than a food photography contest.

“Clearly it encourages creativity in young people. But it also reminds adults that kids see things with a lightness and simplicity that we might miss. To see the world of food through their eyes is refreshing.”

To see all the entries from this year’s contest, click here.

(The 7th annual “Young Shoots” contest and reception were sponsored by the Westport Farmers’ Market, in collaboration with the Drew Friedman Community Arts Center and Artists Collective of Westport.)

Alexander Sod and Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran-Dougall, at the “Young Shoots” awards ceremony.

 

Roundup: Census, Bloodroot, Shorefest, More


As the 2020 census continues, Westport’s self-response rate is 76.2%. That’s well above the rate for the state of Connecticut: 69.4%. (The figures include responses from all known addresses.)

Officials urge anyone who has not completed the census to do so. Census data informs how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives, and other critical programs and services for the next 10 years.

Click here to complete the census response. Click here to see Westport’s response rate. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


The Westport Farmers’ Market has offered great, healthy food for more than a decade.

Bloodroot has done the same for nearly half a century more.

The Bridgeport feminist vegetarian restaurant/bookstore — opened in the 1970s by Westporters Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, nurtured by ever since and still run by the indefatigable women — is the subject of a new documentary.

“Bloodroot” premieres Sunday, September 20 (7 p.m.). The film will be shown at the Imperial Avenue parking lot — home to the Remarkable Theater and its partner for this showing, the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The film — about feminism as well as food — is an homage to Furie and Miriam, says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall. They are longtime supporters of the market, and a mentor to its director. Click here for tickets.

Three local restaurants are offering tailgating options for the documentary.

Terrain’s $50 box for 2 people includes tomato salad, kale falafel and blackberry pie. Click here for ordering information.

Manna Toast’s offering ($20 for 2) includes choice of toast, salad, rosemary popcorn and iced tea. Click here to order.

Kawa Ni’s dinner ($60 plus tax and 3% kitchen share, for 2) includes tsukemono, shaved broccoli miso goma, tomato tofu pockets and a bun bowl. Call 203-557-8775 to order by 4 p.m. on September 18.

(Form left): Noel Furie and Selma Miriam, Bloodroot founders.


Speaking of food: Friends of Sherwood Island — members of the organization with that name, and those who merely love Connecticut’s 1st state park, a 236-acre gem hidden right on the Westport coast — are invited to an important fundraiser.

Shorefest on a Roll rolls out Sunday, September 20. Guests will enjoy a rolling tour of the park, accompanied by a podcast describing its fascinating history and its many features — plus a “lobster roll to go” feast.

The event includes a field of whirligigs, exotic kites, disc golf exhibitions, musical performances and model plane flyovers at the park airfield, all while cruising the loop at 10 miles an hour.

The only stop is near the end of the tour to pick up hot or cold lobster roll dinners. The entire loop takes 12 minutes.

Click here for tickets. Proceeds support Friends’ efforts, including the newly renovated Nature Center, tree planting, maintenance of the vast purple martin colony, and the 9/11 Memorial.


Dog-gone it!

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held out as long as they could. But the 5th Annual Westport Dog Festival — set for October 4, after being rescheduled from May — has been canceled.

That’s the second major event — following Slice of Saugatuck — shelved by the Chamber, due to the coronavirus.

But they’re running concerts both weekends. Terrapin: The Grateful Dead Experience performs tonight, in a sold-out show. Two other shows are slated for October 2 and 3. Tickets go on sale next week. For more information, click here.


And finally … as we remember 9/11:

Roundup: Art About Town, Senior Center; Young Shoots Farmers, More


Even a pandemic can’t keep local artists down.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association’s 2nd “Art About Town” project includes works from Artists Collective of Westport members. They’re exhibited in the windows and on the walls of many downtown retails — for viewing and purchase.

Art About Town runs in conjunction with the WDMA’s “Art+ Downtown Thursday Nights.” Galleries stay open from 5 to 8 p.m. So do many of the stores showcasing the “About Town” art.

Bonus feature: Many of the artists are there with their work on Thursdays, chatting with customers. Tomorrow they’ll be at Amy Simon, Pop’TArt, Sorelle, Artistex, Catherine H, Don Memo, Fred Sip & Shop, Franny’s Farmacy, Nic & Zoe, Savannah Bee, Savvy + Grace and West, on Post Road East, Main Street and Church Lane.

In addition Manna Toast offers 1/2 off on bottles of wine (5 to 7 p.m.), and Rye Ridge Deli will stay open till 8. Masks and social distancing are mandatory for Art About Town!


Upcoming Senior Center events:

Bingo: Thursday, August 20 (1:15 to 2 p.m.). Virtual Bingo — with prizes! — is offered the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. If you don’t have internet, you can call in from home. If you can’t print cards, the Senior Center will help. Pre-registration is required (203-341-5099). There’s also an $8 lunch for Westport residents — delivered (with 4 Bingo cards) to your home.

Pet Chat: Friday, August 21 (10:30 to 11:30 a.m.). Share pet stories; hear guest speakers. Click here for Zoom ID; password is 4C1Q0H.

Summer Concert Series: Friday, August 28, 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.: Pianist Irwin Lebish discusses and plays selections from “The Great American Songbook.” Click here for the Zoom link. Friday, September 4, 1:30 to 2 p.m.: Violinist and Westport native Healther “L’il Mama” Hardy — daughter of Friends board member Judy Hardy — entertains on Facebook Live and Zoom (click here for that link).

Fall Prevention program: (Tuesday, September 1, 10 to 11 a.m.). Carli Lee Spinola — injury prevention coordinator at Norwalk Hospital — teaches how to prevent slips and falls. Click here for the Zoom link.

Labor Day Drive-Thru BBQ and Online Concert: Seniors and guests can order a BBQ lunch to go; pickup is at the Senior Center on Friday, September 4, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Socially distance in the parking lot, and enjoy the meal! $8; ordering deadline is September 1. Call 203-341-5099.

Questions? Call 203-341-5099, or email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.


“Young Shoots” — the Westport Farmers’ Market’s deliciously named youth photo contest — has extended its deadline.

Youngsters ages 8 to 18 have until August 24 to submit photos. This year, because of COVID, they must be taken at home. The goal is to show images of the produce, flowers and prepared foods they and their families buy — and how it looks in their kitchens and dining rooms.

First place winners in each category receive $100; runners-up get $50. All photos will be on display at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk.

Click here to apply; click here for more details. The deadline is August 10.


Last Friday, Ariana Napier delivered 424 pounds of food to Bridgeport Rescue Mission. This brings her Westport’s total donations to 1,819 pounds of food and personal care items donated. In other words: Donors are just 181 pounds away from reaching 1 ton!

BRM continues to provide twice as many meals and three times as many grocery bags as before the pandemic. The most needed items include:

  • Canned beans (all types)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned meats (beef stew, chili, etc.)
  • Peanut butter and jelly (plastic)
  • Snacks (granola bars, power bars, etc.)
  • Ramen noodles

Donations can be dropped off at bins in Ariana’s driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane near Long Lots).


Rebecca Mace reports that the Panera Bread location on Post Road East near the Southport line — shut for several weeks — is once again open.

Yesterday she spotted baked goods on the shelves, someone going in, and a guy eating a salad next to the window.

The Panera Bread near the Southport line.


1968 Staples High School graduate Paul Backalenick has just published his second book. He says, “A good mystery can be a good distraction in these trying times.”

Carrie’s Secret takes place in a psychiatric hospital in the 1980s, as a suburban couple struggles to understand and help their threatened daughter.

The Kindle version of Carrie’s Secrets is just $2.99 on Amazon — and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited member. The paperback is $13.99. Click here for more on Paul Backalenick.


And finally … last night’s Remarkable Theater movie was “The Sting.” In 1973, the film — starring Westport’s own Paul Newman — gave new life to Scott Joplin’s rags.

No Farmer’s Market Today?

Looks like there is no Westport Farmer’s Market today.

A tree blocks the exit to the Imperial Avenue lot. There were no tents set up, no signs out in front, and an email to the Market was not returned as of 10 a.m.

So: not confirmed, but pretty certain.

(Photo/Am Schneider)

Let’s hope we’re not waiting till the cows come home.

Roundup: Primary Day Workers, Farmers’ Market For Kids, Navigating College During COVID, More


There’s an election coming up — and it’s not in November. The Democratic and Republican Parties hold primaries next Tuesday (August 11). Workers are being hired to man (and woman) the polls.

No party affiliation is needed. Most positions do not require prior experience. PPE is required (and supplied). For details, email mcowden@westportct.gov.


Oops! I had a couple of errors in yesterday’s story about the Westport Farmers’ Market kids’ crafts program. A corrected version appears here:

The pandemic has prevented live gatherings for the “Get Growing” kids’ program at Westport Farmers’ Market.

No problem! WFM has launched “Get Growing to Go!,” a craft kit of activities youngsters can do at home. The brainchild of Mae Farrell, it includes a free package parents and caregivers pick up at the Farmers’ Market Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Each week Mae announces the craft for the following week on Instagram and Facebook, and children and parents through the week’s activity — on their own schedule.

“’Get Growing’ is dear to my heart,” says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougal.

“Mae has taken it to a whole new level, both in person and now virtually with the craft kits. Families are a big part of our market. We won’t let the pandemic prevent us from helping the next generation appreciate nature, farmers, and importance of a local food community.”

Parents can pre-order craft kits for pickup at the Farmers’ Market by emailing Mae any time between Sunday and Tuesday each week: getgrowing@westportfarmersmarket.com. The first pickup is Thursday, August 13, and each Thursday thereafter from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. WARNING: Only 30 craft kits are available each week.

For an introduction and sample, click here (Facebook) or here (Instagram).

Causeway Collaborative is a Westport-based organization that counsels and mentors young men between the ages of 17 and 30 who are struggling to navigate transitional stages in life.

That includes coping with COVID-19.

On Thursday, August 13 (7 p.m.), Causeway hosts a virtual (and free) event for parents of young adults, whose children are preparing to return to college during COVID-19. It’s a new struggle —  but one many Westporters can relate to. Click here to register.


MyTeamTriumph — the great local organization that pairs people with special needs with volunteers who help them take part in triathlons and road races — suffered a devastating loss Friday.

Connie Crowell and her 22-year-old son Jack died when their SUV plunged into the Housatonic River in Seymour. Both lived in Monroe, but had been very active with the Westport chapter.

The local group posted this video, and passes on word of a GoFundMe collection to cover funeral and memorial costs, and an education fund for Jack’s brother.


And finally … on this day in 1901, Louis Armstrong was born. For 69 years, he shared this wonderful world with us.

Roundup: Farmers’ Market For Kids, Westport Woman’s Club, Staples Baseball, More


The pandemic has prevented live gatherings for the “Get Growing” kids’ program at Westport Farmers’ Market.

No problem! WFM has launched “Get Growing to Go!,” a craft kit of activities youngsters can do at home. The brainchild of Mae Farrell, it includes a free package parents and caregivers pick up at the Cross Highway farm.

Each week Mae announces the craft for the following week on Instagram and Facebook, and children and parents through the week’s activity — on their own schedule.

“’Get Growing’ is dear to my heart,” says WFM executive director Lori Cochran-Dougal.

“Mae has taken it to a whole new level, both in person and now virtually with the craft kits. Families are a big part of our market. We won’t let the pandemic prevent us from helping the next generation appreciate nature, farmers, and importance of a local food community.”

Parents can pre-order craft kits for pick up at WFM between Sunday and Tuesday by email: getgrowing@westportfarmersmarket.com. The first pickup is Thursday, August 13, and each Thursday thereafter from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. WARNING: Only 30 craft kits are available each week.

For an introduction and sample, click here (Facebook) or here (Instagram).


Among the recipients of the Westport Woman’s Club’s 2020 community grants: Filling in the Blanks.

The Fairfield and Westchester Counties non-profit says: “Because of you, we delivered 11,014 meal bags in the month of May. That is 44,056 individual meals for children who otherwise would not have had enough to eat. We added students in New Canaan and Norwalk last month, and will add more in Greenwich this month. Thank you from all of us at Filling in the Blanks for making it possible for us to provide this basic nutrition when it is needed most.”


The 2020 Staples High School baseball team did not get a chance to defend their state championship this spring. COVID took care of that.

But the Wrecker baseball family gathered yesterday for a ceremony today honoring the 2019 state and FCIAC champions — and the team’s unanimous #1 ranking in Connecticut.

The turnout was great. The memories were wonderful. Now the plaques will serve as an inspiration for the 2021 squad — and all that follow.


And finally … hard to believe I haven’t used this “Monday” song before. But I haven’t.

Farmers’ Market Photo Contest Changes Focus

The Westport Farmers’ Market is the gift that keeps giving.

In addition to the bounty available every Thursday — plus music, education and community-building — the WFM reaches out to kids.

Every year, the Market’s “Young Shoots” photography contest engages creative teens and tweens. They train their fresh eye on fresh produce, flowers and more. The results are inspiring.

“Starstem” by Calista Finkelstein placed 1st in 2016, in the 8-10 category.

The Westport Farmers’ Market reopened with full shopping this past week. But — in an abundance of caution — this year’s “Young Shoots” photo contest will be different.

Youngsters will show what the Market means to their homes. They’ll submit images of the produce, flowers and prepared foods they and their families buy — and how it all looks, in their kitchens and dining rooms.

“Young Shoots is an opportunity for kids to demonstrate their creativity through digital photography while at the same time appreciating the beauty of real food,” says Lori Cochran-Dougall, WFM executive director.

“This year we are excited to see the market in their homes through their artwork.  It will bring a fresh variety of images to this program.

“This is one of my favorite programs of the market. These kids are our future. We love to see the appreciation they have for real food in such a creative way.”

Anastasia Davis won 1st place in 2016 in the 11-14 age group for this shot.

There are 3 age groups: 8-10 years old, 11-14 and 15-18. Photos are judged by local artists (and a chef). The public can also vote for their favorites.

First place winners in each category receive $100; runners-up get $50. All photos will be on display at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk.

Click here to apply. The deadline is August 10.

Roundup: Farmers’ Market; Inspirational Swimmer; Compo Barber Shop; More


Another big step on the road to return:

Starting this Thursday (July 9), the Westport Farmers’ Market is open for regular shopping.

The decision — made “after careful consideration and due diligence through state and local officials” — means that every week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Imperial Avenue lot will be will fill once again with “your beloved farmers, bakers, cheese mongers and more.”

A number of adaptations will ensure safety for customers and vendors. Masks must be worn at all times. There is single-direction traffic while shopping (one way in, one way out). There will be hand sanitizer stations, social distancing and “lots of fresh air.”

Just like old times, musicians will play.

Executive director Lori Cochran realizes that not everyone will come. So pre-order, touch-free, selected-time-slot pickups continue.

“We realize that healthy food is one of the best ways to heal your body and keep your immune system strong,” Lori says. “Our immune-compromised shoppers need safe access to our product. We are committed to bringing it to them while allowing others to participate in the day-of model.”

A select number of slots are available for Thursday pickups, from 9 to 10 a.m. For details, click here.


With the goal of opening dialogue and expanding awareness of the realities of racial challenges, the Westport Weston Family YMCA is sponsoring an intriguing conversation.

The guest is Trevor Freeland. A member of the first all-Black team to reach the top ranks of American youth swimming (chronicled in the 2007 movie “Pride”), he went on to a stellar career at the University of Virginia. As the first Black swimmer to compete in the ACC, he helped the Cavaliers win the 1st of 16 league titles.

One of the few Black executives to run a major Wall Street trading desk, he has committed his life to challenging and breaking down barriers. He attributes his success to the work ethic and life skills he learned in the pool.

The event is this Saturday (July 11, Camp Mahackeno outdoor amphitheater). There are 2 sessions: 9: 15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. A limited number of spots are open to Y members who are not non-Water Rat swimmers, and their families; Y members can click here to register.

Trevor Freeland


Doug Fierro spotted this yesterday, in a dumpster behind Compo Shopping Center.

“Another victim of COVID,” he writes. “A sad day for Westport.”


This morning at the Gillespie Center, Sunrise Rotary donated $5,000 to Homes With Hope.

The funds will purchase farm-to-table meals for homeless shelter residents, from caterer Alison Milwe-Grace. The donation is particularly important now, because Gillespie’s regular volunteers are unable to help personally. (Sunrise Rotary members are some of those regulars: they serve meals on the first Saturday of every month.)


Savannah Bee has added items to its curbside delivery.

Along with their line of immune boosters (saw palmetto and local new England honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and healing anti-bacterial propolis spray), they now offer an elderberry elixir hand-crafted in Atlanta with their famed honey. It’s filled with adaptogenic jerbs and immune-boosting botanicals.

Click here, then call Julie (203-856-5149) or email julie@savannahbee.com.


Yesterday, a reader reported that Panera Bread’s “customer care” team told her the Westport location would reopen today.

#fakenews.

A reader who drove by there today reports, “they remain quite closed. The sign in their window still says ‘Location Temporarily Closed.” The location does not pop up on their website when you search 06880 either.”

If anyone knows what’s cooking, let us know!

The Panera Bread near the Southport line.


And finally … I have no idea who comes up with these things, but supposedly on this date in 1550, chocolate was “thought to have been introduced to Europe.” Today also marks a year and a day since the tribute concert to Westport’s favorite blues/rocker, Charlie Karp.

To celebrate, here’s a link to Charlie Karp’s 1973 album, named after his band at the time: White Chocolate.

COVID Roundup: New Grocery Store; Church Outreach; Earth Animal Art; Face Masks; More


And the newest grocery store in Westport is … Via Sforza.

The popular Post Road West Italian restaurant now sells a wide variety of produce, meat, dairy products, pasta, rice, sauces, spices, herbs, beverages, snacks, and pantry and household items. They’re open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Of course, they still offer their great takeout and delivery lunch and dinner menus too. Click here for more information, or call 203-454-4444.


Last year, Green’s Farms Church kicked off an ambitious “Church of the Future” campaign. Now is not the greatest time to be in the middle of a fundraiser. But they’ve been around for 309 years. They plan to be here for centuries more.

They’re renovating the facility, parts of which are 170 years old. That includes work on the meetinghouse, refurbishing the pipe organ, and making meeting areas more open and flexible. Local groups like AA will benefit as well.

But in this time of great need everywhere, Green’s Farms Church is thinking beyond its walls. Some of the funds raised are earmarked for local non-profits. The congregation has helped them in the past; now they’re ratcheting up that support even more.

GFC is donating $25,000 each to 4 groups: Homes With Hope, Mercy Learning Center, Pivot Ministries and the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. 

Church leaders hope these challenge grants stimulate additional donations to each of these groups by others. And they hope as their own fundraising campaign continues, they’ll be able to help these and other groups even more in the future.


In the last 35 days, Westport Masks have made over 1,100 masks — and given them all away. Recent recipients include Westport’s Public Works, Parks & Recreation and highway departments; Westport Post Office; elderly residents through Westport’s Department of Human Services; Open Door Shelter in Norwalk; Food Rescue US; Thomas Merton Family Center in Bridgeport; Stamford Hospice, Norwalk Hospital and more.

While continuing to donate to front line and vulnerable groups, they’ll also create masks for friends, family, children and the general public in return for small financial donations. Westport Masks uses 100% of the funds to buy supplies. They suggest $10 — but they never let anyone go without a mask if they need one.

All masks are 2 layers of 100% cotton. They’re washable, with a filter pocket for added protection. They even have neck ties, so they can be worn all the time.

If you are confident with your sewing machine — or cannot sew but can cut fabric, or have spare fabric or good quality bed linen to donate, or want to one of your own — email WestportMasks@yahoo.com.

“We’ll keep going until no one else needs a mask,” promises co-founder Virginia Jaffe.


Yesterday marked the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market to the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Gratified shopper Emily Mikesell reports:

“Besides being as safe as possible, it was an unexpectedly sweet, positive experience. It ran like the most cheerful Swiss watch you’ve ever seen! It was wonderful to see so many familiar vendors, even behind masks. And though I felt sad not being able to over-buy from wandering and browsing, I’ll put myself in that mood over the weekend when I order for next week.

“Until then I will enjoy delicious raw milk and yogurt, farm fresh eggs and just-baked bread.

“Yes, the experience is different. But it still supports the vendors we love. It’s a real day brightener!”

To order online and for more information, click here.


Pets (and pet owners) love Earth Animal. Now artists do too.

Through May 31, they’re collecting artwork from all ages. Sketches, watercolor, chalk — whatever works is fine. So are group entries. The only rule: nothing bigger than 24″ x 36″.

Put your name on the back; drop it off at the store, or mail it to 925 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Drawings will be hung in the store — and whoever created their favorite will win a $500 gift card.

Questions? Call 203-222-7173.


A couple of months ago, the message on this sweatshirt spotted on Beachside Avenue would have drawn puzzled looks. These days, it makes perfect sense.

(Photo/Ed Simek)


And finally … what better way for the King’s Singers to share Billy Joel’s beautiful tune than by asking 732 people around the globe to join them in a “Stay at Home” choir? Kudos to all (and everyone behind the scenes too). What a lovely way to end the week.

Farmers’ Market Returns To Imperial Lot

The Westport Farmers’ Market is coming “home.”

After a successful, COVID-induced pre-order and pick-up run at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, the popular weekly event returns to the parking lot at 50 Imperial Avenue beginning tomorrow (Thursday, May 14).

As usual, the market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, it will continue to operate on a pre-order basis with scheduled pick-up times. There is no onsite shopping. Delivery options are available.

There are 15 vendors now; more will be added throughout the season. Online orders are accepted from Saturdays at 4 p.m. through Monday at noon. (In other words, all orders have already been accepted for tomorrow.)

“We love our community, and are thrilled to return to our summer location,” says executive director Lori Cochran Dougall. “While the market is operating differently, we are who we are at our core. We look forward to launching the harvest season with our supporters.”

For more information, email director@westportfarmersmarket.com.