by James Simpkins
Until recently, I thought bumper stickers were for other people. Not anymore. I’ve finally found something I don’t mind saying to--or in this case asking of--those around me. The winning sticker directly asks “Who’s your farmer?” and suggests buying Connecticut grown everything. What had me put this on my car is that I actually know my farmer! His name is Tom and he owns and operates Hard Rain Farm in Burlington, CT. As I realized that I could answer the question, it made me consider what our fine planet might be like if we all knew who grew our food.
The resulting image made me peel off the back and slap it on the back of my Subaru.
For those of you within shouting distance of Collinsville, CT, you may consider a visit to a particularly fine Farmers’ Market and pick out a farmer (maybe two?) that you’d like to know, then buy from them. Often. Tom Sevigny (different Tom), the founder of the Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion (C.A.R.E.) and the Collinsville Market Master would second me on this. After all, he’s the guy who started it.
I talked with Mr. Sevigny this past weekend and he told me that the Collinsville Farmers’ Market began four years ago with only three vendors. The now-thriving weekly gathering has exploded into a localvore’s Eden of fresh produce, crafts, flowers and other goods. Each Sunday from June to October brings big crowds who enjoy the festive atmosphere and scenic locale on the Farmington River. This, along with Collinsville’s other businesses like the seemingly eternal LaSalle Market and The Crown and Hammer Pub, as well as antique shops and art galleries--all within a couple hundred yards of (farmer) Tom’s snap peas.
As a result of the increased crowds and exposure, as of the moment there’s also a long waiting list to be a part of the action. To add incentive to get on this list yourself, you should know it’s only $85 for the equivalent of two parking spaces for your booth. As Sevigny told me, “we’re not in this to make money”; at that price, you couldn’t convince me he’s lying. I should also mention the golden requirement to get in---whatever your wares, they should be CT grown or made!
So I mentioned the Collinsville Farmers’ Market has more than just farmers: Just this past week I picked up a quart of homemade bread-and-butter pickles from Cupola Hollow (West Suffield) and picked a pack of organic peppercorns from Boxed Goodes—who also had some great-looking Hawaiian red sea salt. Maybe I’ll get a package of it next week along with a gorgeous orchid I saw offered from Ballado Orchids (Berlin)? A word to even you window shoppers--take more than the $20 I did this past week. You’ll find much more than you came there to buy, and not everyone takes American Express. And I haven’t come close to naming all the vendors there---apologies to those of you I haven’t mentioned.
Along with food and flowers, there is plenty of local information available from the Canton Historical Society and a booth with information about C.A.R.E. should you be interested in supporting their causes. You’d be surprised at all the history contained in such a small place! From steam shovels, to masts for famous ships, a guy named Paul Revere, and world-famous axes—there’s more than a couple of pieces of Americana around here.
For those in the neighborhood (my wife Sheli and I live in town), all this is music to our ears. There are more than a few of us who want Collinsville to update and develop into a more economically radiant community, but that’s going to take more reasons for people to come here. Lest I be accused of not mentioning the pink elephant in the room, we’re also pulling for whoever will be developing the old axe factory—perhaps the most underutilized, most fantastic piece of real estate in Connecticut.
The proven businesses as well as new ones, a core of great people who love this historical village and a bountiful and prosperous Farmers’ Market are all reasons to continue to hope for the best for our town.
And I do.
Please call or visit the websites below to support the folks I’ve mentioned above. Better yet, come out and see them in person at the Collinsville Farmers’ Market this Sunday from 10am-1pm in the Town Hall parking lot on the corner of Rt 179 (Bridge Street) and Main Street in downtown Collinsville.
I’ll see you there!
The People Who Made My Bumper Sticker
Hard Rain Farm
The Crown and Hammer Pub
Cupola Hollow Farm
www.balladorchids.com (I didn’t leave out an ‘o’…I swear)
Canton Historical Society