Naugatuck farmer’s market begins fresh season

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Beverly Krayeski talks with Victoria Boecklin of George Hall Farm Wednesday at the Naugatuck farmer’s market’s opening day. The market will be open along Church Street on the Town Green Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October 26. LARAINE WESCHLER
NAUGATUCK — Local farmers are once again sharing their bounty. The Naugatuck Farmer’s Market opened for its sixth season Wednesday on the Town Green.

“We have some of the finest farms in Connecticut represented here in Naugatuck,” said Mindy Fragoso, the market’s coordinator and a former burgess.

She said people frequent the market because it’s fresh, Connecticut grown produce.

“We’re supporting our own economy in Connecticut,” Fragoso said.

Fragoso organized the market after someone asked to start one at a borough board meeting several years ago. No one else seemed to have any interest in it, so Fragoso volunteered, she said.

Several of the farmers at the market have been in the business for a long time.

Bruce Gresczyk of Gresczyk Farms has been farming since 1975, and is a former commissioner for the state Department of Agriculture. When asked why he chose a career in farming, Gresczyk said, “I just wanted to do it.”

Now, he’s been doing it for 37 years, and brought his sons into the family business as well.

Gresczyk said he grows about 100 acres of produce and has a 30,000 square foot green house as well as about 1,000 chickens.

In addition to fruits and vegetables in season, Gresczyk had hydroponic basic, lettuce, and tomatoes grown in water in his greenhouse.

Another long-time farm has been certified organic since 1969. Victoria Boecklin said she has worked for George Hall Farm for two years, since she graduated high school in 2009.  The 60-acre Simsbury farm has been busy, traveling from West Hartford to Middletown, going to one or two markets per day, Boecklin said. The farm also sells its produce to local restaurants and health food stores. Wednesday, Boecklin offered certified organic produce including garlic, squash, lettuce and peas.

The annual market is a crowd favorite and draws repeat customers.

“I’m very happy that the farmers market is back,” said long-time customer Beverly Krayeski, who stops by every week. She said she comes for the fresh produce and to support local farms.

Kyleen Bombardier came to buy her produce at the farmer’s market for the same reasons. Plus, she said, prices are cheaper and the produce fresher than in the grocery store.

“Everybody’s so friendly,” Bombardier said.

Jessica Wnuk of Dondero Orchards in Glastonbury proffered an array of fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods and award-winning jams and pickles. The jams are made only with ingredients grown on the orchard and are low in sugar, Wnuk said.

Besides farmers, there was one vendor at the market selling baked goods.

Jackie Stuart, owner of Pink Petal Sweets, sold out of her pies, cinnamon crumb cakes, blueberry cobbler, and signature chocolate chip and oatmeal raison cookies. She said she didn’t expect so many people to want her cookies, and will be sure to bake more next week.

Stuart sells her cookies to local IGA grocery stores and sandwich shops. She opened her business three years ago as a second career. Even though her Quinn Street shop isn’t normally open to the public, Stuart said she will start opening Sunday mornings in September to sell breakfast baked goods like scones and muffins.

The market is Connecticut certified, which means it accepts WIC and Senior FMNP checks.

The market will be open along Church Street on the Town Green Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October 26.