By Susan Hayes
I lived in New Britain over ten years ago in a small condominium in an urban neighborhood. Three blocks away was a series of dilapidated green houses on a sad, weed-strewn field. Today, Urban Oaks Organic Farm has reclaimed the land, growing a myriad of produce to be sold to the public and a number of local restaurants. The property houses three green houses, full of vegetables and herbs that grow year-round and a market that is housed in a rehabbed service station. Urban Oaks is a splendid example of urban renewal and a fabulous resource for the city and surrounding communities, selling Connecticut grown organic produce.
No matter the season, Urban Oaks has overflowing baskets of seasonal goodies, but summer though autumn ,the place is positively bursting at the seams with sweet juicy heirloom tomatoes, all manner of squash both summer and winter , peppers, onions, many varieties of potatoes, as well as that produce you have always fantasized about cooking, but haven’t taken a chance on.
Go ahead braise some greens with olive oil and a balsamic reduction or roast up some golden beets, rutabaga and parsnips. Any home cook’s imagination will be titillated! Along with the plethora of vegetables, Urban Oaks has seasonal fruit, starting the year with Organic citrus from the south and west coast, like the Meyer lemons I scored last March, to seasonal berries and juicy ripe varieties of apples and pears in the fall.
Aside from fruits and vegetables, an artisanal Connecticut baker, The Sweet Sage Bakery, delivers fresh baked goods every Friday. The bread goes fast and is often gone by Saturday morning, as are the berry- studded scones and other sweet treats. Other offerings at the market include local eggs, cheese and honey. Humanely raised meats, locally packaged rice blends and freshly cut flowers are available for purchase as well. But, really, you never know what new finds will present themselves!
What is not grown on the premises, or locally, is brought in from other parts of the country, but the quality is always high and the variety off the grid. If you are lucky, the market will be sampling some of their products. I have had smoothies made with berries and greens and a tangy Asian type salsa made with zucchini most recently. The staff is friendly and approachable and always willing to share their tips for preparing some of the lesser known produce varieties. They all seem dedicated to the Urban Oaks mission. They only take cash or check so come prepared. Friend them on Facebook and you will always be in the know, as they often post updates and photos. When I visit Urban Oaks, I feel as if this is the way life should be and the type of organization I want to support.
Urban Oaks Organic Farm
225 Oak Street
New Britain, Connecticut 06051
Hours: Open Friday from 3:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Susan Hayes works at a local High School in her spare time, but her true passion lies in culinary pursuits, cooking gardening, blogging and discovering new dining spots. Her work can be found at Black Cat Cooking Chronicles.