Farmers market opens for fresh season

Suzanne and Felipe Flores buy a loaf of bread from Joe Dondero of Dondero Orchards at the Naugatuck Farmers’ Market on the Town Green July 11. The market will be open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and every Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through Oct. 24.-LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Farmers’ Market opened for its 7th season last Wednesday on the Town Green, where vendors sold fresh produce, preserves and bakery items to a steady crowd of consumers seeking local food.

Vendors at the market include Naugatuck’s Pink Petal Sweets bakery, Dondero Orchards of Glastonbury, Grescyzk Farms of New Hartford, and George Hall Farm of Simsbury.

“I’m happy to see that it’s all fresh and organic and local,” said Marcia DiCarlo, a customer at the market who bought an array of vegetables from George Hall Farm.

Shoppers at the market said they were impressed by the goods offered and their freshness

The farmers’ market has become an anticipated summer staple in Naugatuck, but eight years ago the borough didn’t have one. Mindy Fragoso, the market’s coordinator and a former burgess, said she decided to organize an annual farmers’ market after hearing requests for one.

“I took it upon myself,” Fragoso said. “I think it’s a good thing … we have strong anchors that provide everything from eggs to sweets and they are well-respected.”

The farms at the Naugatuck market have all been in business for at least forty years and Dondero Orchards has been growing fruit for over 100 years.

Bruce Grescyzk of Grescyzk Farms has officially been in the farming business since 1979 and was formerly a commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture.

“I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” Grescyzk said of his farming career, which includes growing and selling a variety of produce like green beans, tomatoes, squash and sugar-snap peas.

George Hall Farm has also been in the business of farming for several decades, is certified organic and has been growing produce using organic methods since 1966.

Brooke Lindstrom, of George Hall Farm, sells fresh, organic vegetables at the Naugatuck Farmers’ Market on the Town Green July 11. The market is open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and every Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through Oct. 24.

“We’ve been organic since the [19]60s and you can’t get much fresher,” employee Brooke Lindstrom said, adding that their produce is picked the day before or the morning of the market.

In addition to the farms and their produce, Pink Petal Sweets owner Jackie Stuart sold her fresh pies, cookies and scones at the market. Stuart said she looks forward to selling her goods every week on the Green.

According to Fragoso, the state of Connecticut allocated $33,750 to Naugatuck for the market this year. The farmers’ market accepts WIC and senior FNMP checks.

Harvey Frydman, director of the Naugatuck Senior Center, said the senior FNMP checks have been helpful to many local seniors with over 2,200 vouchers distributed this year. Each senior who qualified for the program was given two vouchers valued at $30 each.

“It’s healthy,” Frydman said of the farmer’s market produce. “We do a lot to extend our seniors’ or disabled adults’ budgets during these tough economic times.”

People who qualify for senior FNMP checks are singles aged 60 or older and permanently disabled adults with an annual income of $20,665 or less. Couples who qualify must be in the same position with an annual income of $27,991 or less.

The Senior Center also provides a shuttle for seniors and disabled adults from their residences to the farmer’s market and then back home.

The farmer’s market will be open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through October 24.

See a video on the market here.