Tag Archives: Westport Farmer’s Market

Calling All Young Shoots

The Westport Farmers’ Market celebrates creativity.

Every Thursday, the Imperial Avenue parking lot teems with vendors offering creative ways to prepare fresh food (and not just produce — there’s meat, baked goods and more). Musicians perform. It’s fun, funky and alive.

There’s a lot to do, and see. It’s a photographer’s paradise too.

Which is why I’m happy to promote one of the the Farmers’ Market’s more creative opportunities.

An annual contest highlights images taken all summer long. And it’s got an especially creative name: The Young Shoots Digital Photography Competition.

Get it?

“Towhead Tomatoes” — 2016 Fan Favorite winner, and 2nd place in 15-18 age group. (Photo/Margaret Kraus)

There are 3 age groups: 8-10 years old, 11-14 and 15-18. All photos must be taken somewhere on the Farmers’ Market premises. Submissions are due by September 6.

This is no rinky-dink affair. Jurors include noted photographers Eileen Sawyer and Bonnie Edelman, graphic artist Miggs Burroughs, and Westport Arts Center executive director Amanda Innes.

First-place winners in each category 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.

Winners will also have their work shown in a gallery-like setting at Sugar & Olives (a favorite Farmers’ Market vendor).

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

The public can also vote online for their favorite images. “People’s Choice” winners in each category get a 1-year membership to the Westport Arts Center (soon to be called MoCA), and a Farmers’ Market t-shirt. All photos will be on display this fall at the Arts Center’s new home at 19 Newtown Turnpike. There’s a fun awards reception October 4 at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk.

Click here for photo guidelines and submission info. Click here to see past submissions.

Then fire away!

Farmers’ Market Sprouts Thursday

The Westport Farmers’ Market did not exactly have humble beginnings.

Fourteen years ago Paul Newman and his sidekick, Michel Nischan — the chef and co-ownwer of Newman’s Dressing Room restaurant —  opened the market in the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot.

Newman’s name, Nischan’s passion — and the growing popularity of farmers’ markets — ensured a variety of vendors, and good crowds, from the start.

But now the Westport Farmers’ Market is really cooking.

It quickly outgrew its Playhouse home. The market moved to the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot, just below the Westport Woman’s Club. There’s plenty of room, plenty of parking — and plenty to see, do and buy.

The Westport Farmers’ Market appeals to all ages. (Photo/Margaret Kraus)

When the new season opens this Thursday (May 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), longtime market goers and eager newcomers will enjoy nearly 50 vendors, food trucks, chef demonstrations, children’s activities, music and more.

Offerings range far beyond fresh fruits and vegetables, to organic meat, seafood, bread, baked goods, coffee and tea (and kombucha), ice cream, honey and empanadas.

The most popular lunch trucks — pizza and Mexican food — are back too.

This year’s highlights include the Chef at the Market competition; Get Growing, the kids’ activity program, and more lunch seating than ever.

The Westport Farmers’ Market is not just a place to stock up on great, healthy food.

It’s a destination.

Somewhere, Paul Newman is smiling.

(For more information on the Westport Farmers’ Market, click here.)

Seed Exchange Set For Saturday

Every year between March and May, the Westport Farmers’ Market lies fallow.

It’s a time when farmers prep for the new season. But to do that, they need seeds.

And — with spring just (please, God) around the bend — so do Westporters with gardens of any size and type.

So on Saturday, March 16, the Westport Winter Farmers’ Market says goodbye to its indoor Gilbertie’s Herbs and Garden Center home with a free seed exchange.

Everyone is invited to bring seeds saved from their own garden — or take home a few saved by others. WFM farmers will donate seeds from their favorite crops too.

All seeds are welcome — except those from invasive species (click here for the list). However, the market encourages people to bring and take home heirloom or organic varieties.

“Heirloom seeds are critical to reclaiming our food system,” says Farmers’ Market executive director Lori Cochran-McDougall.

“These open-pollinated plants have been passed down from generation to generation without human intervention or manipulation. They taste better, are more nutritious, and help protect plant diversity.”

The seed exchange runs this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. — or until all seeds are shared. Gilbertie’s is located at 7 Sylvan Avenue South.

Adult beverages and music will be provided. Can you dig it?

Teachers Whip Up A Tasty Day

For years, the Westport Farmers’ Market and Staples High School’s culinary arts program have teamed up to bring great food to folks in need.

Once a month, students shop for provisions at the market. Then they prepare and serve a delicious, nutritious meal at the Gillespie Center.

Yesterday, many more people got in the act.

As part of Westport’s Professional Development Day, culinary students and staff helped interested teachers — from throughout the district — shop for ingredients, then create and serve a meal too.

The initiative was led by Staples’ 3 culinary instructors: Cecily Gans (owner of The Main Course Catering, and a member of the Farmers’ Market Board); Alison Milwe-Grace (owner of AMG Catering and Events), and Laura Wendt.

Staples’ 3 culinary instructors (from left): Laura Wendt, Alison Milwe-Grace, Cecily Gans.

The goal was to give educators in the district “an overview of the culinary program’s relationship with the community, the Farmers’ Market, the farmers who provide the raw product for meals the students create, and the challenges those students face as they put meals together,” Milwe-Grace says.

Gans adds, “Building relationships around local food, and connecting farmers to the recipients of the food they grow, catch or raise is fundamental to the Farmers’ Market mission.” The Professional Development Day event strengthened other relationships too: those between students and teachers.

The Farmers’ Market and culinary instructors are dedicated to helping students “grow” — as cooks and people.

Yesterday, those students turned the tables on some of our town’s top teachers.

Westport teachers cook for the community.

Pic Of The Day #648

Everybody loves the Westport Farmers’ Market. The winter version is held each Saturday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Lane South. (Photo/Lisa Lewin for Westport Farmers’ Market)

Pic Of The Day #598

 

Sylvan Lane South, near Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens — site of the Winter Farmers’ Market every Saturday. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Winter Farmers’ Market Makes Merry

Winter is here!

Well, not quite. It’s still fall.

But the Westport Farmers’ Market is moving from outdoors to inside. To celebrate, they’re throwing a party at their winter home: Gilbertie’s Herbs and Garden Center (7 Sylvan Road).

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday (November 17), everyone can enjoy lawn games, fairy house making and pumpkin bowling (?!). There’s live music, a giving tree, and a special giveaway.

Of course Farmers’ Market vendors — old and new — will be on hand.

Food trucks will offer a variety of eats. And Athletic Brewing Company will offer adult beverages.

Hey, it’s 5 p.m. somewhere.

 

Hangin’ With Paul Newman

Throughout the summer, anyone visiting the Westport Farmers’ Market could hang out with Paul Newman.

Sure, one of our most famous and beloved neighbors died 10 years ago this past Wednesday.

But we’ll never forget him.

And to make sure, Newman’s Own Foundation — the Westport-based charity that in over 35 years has given away more than $530 million — sent a video crew to the Thursday market to record our memories of him.

In typical fun Newman fashion, they provided a cardboard cutout of the movie star/race car driver/philanthropist (and Farmers’ Market co-founder) — famous blue eyes and all.

Westporters described seeing him around town, including at Hay Day and descending in a helicopter onto the Coleytown Junior High School soccer field. (Hey, that’s me talking!).

Michel Nischan — Newman’s co-founder of both the Dressing Room restaurant and Westport Farmers’ Market — said of the now thriving market, “Like everything he touched, it turned to gold. And this is the leading example of Paul Newman being alive and well, through the spirit of his great work.”

The video will be shared by Newman’s Own Foundation on social media.

Or you can just click below:

Paul Newman Hangs Out At Farmers’ Market

As previewed earlier this week, Paul Newman made a special appearance today at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The movie star/blue-eyed idol/race car driver/food purveyor/philanthropist — and, for 50 years, our neighbor — is unfortunately no longer actually here with us.

But a life-size cutout of him stood under a tent, in the bustling market on Imperial Avenue.

Dozens of shoppers of all ages stopped by to pose for a photo. Many had stories. A camera crew from Newman’s Own Foundation — the Westport-based charity that in over 35 years has given away more than $530 million — recorded Newman-related memories.

It’s a Foundation project, for use as a video and on social media.

If you missed him today, don’t worry. Paul will be back on Thursday, August 16 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). His eyes will be as blue as ever.

BONUS STORY:  I was one of the many Farmers’ Market-goers today who shared a Paul Newman story. Here’s mine:

It was the 1970s. Early one summer evening, some friends and I were playing pick-up soccer on the front field at Coleytown Middle (then Junior High) School.

Suddenly, a helicopter hovered overhead. We scattered. It landed.

Out stepped Paul Newman. He wore shorts — and carried a briefcase.

“Hi, boys!” he said cheerily.

The helicopter whirred back into the sky. And, with a wave, one of the most famous actors in the world walked around the corner to his home.

Paul Newman Lives — At The Farmers’ Market

Westporters of a certain age remember Paul Newman as one of the most famous movie idols of the 20th century — and our neighbor.

The man. The legend. The US postage stamp.

Younger Westporters — and their counterparts all around the country — know him as a salad dressing, popcorn and lemonade guy.

Lost in all that is the fact in 2006 that Paul Newman — who, don’t forget, was also a race car driver, and the founder of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — teamed up with Michel Nischan to start The Dressing Room.

That superbly named restaurant next to the Westport Country Playhouse was Fairfield County’s first farm-to-table restaurant. And — thanks to the star power of its 2 owners — it helped kick-start a whole new way for local residents to look at food.

Here’s something else many folks don’t know (or forgot): The Playhouse parking lot was the original site of the Westport Farmers’ Market. The location was convenient and open. Both Newman and Nischan helped plant the seed, and watched it grow.

This September marks the 10th anniversary of Paul Newman’s death. To honor this remarkable man — one who during his 50 years gave tons of time, energy and money back to the town — the Farmers’ Market has created a special project with Newman’s Own. (The charitable foundation is one more of his legacies.)

Paul Newman often shopped at the Westport Farmer’s Market. He was a particular fan of the locally produced honey.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at this Thursday’s Farmers’ Market — and also on Thursday, August 16 — everyone is invited to share their memories of Paul Newman.

Newman’s Own will bring a life-sized cutout of their founder to the Market (now bigger than ever, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot). Video equipment will be on hand to record stories and tributes.

Clips may be shared by Newman’s Own Foundation, in a video and on social media.

Can’t make it to the market? Submissions can be emailed: social@newmansownfoundation.org.

There must be a million Paul Newman stories in Westport. Let’s start those cameras rolling.