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Food & Drink

Connecticut Late Summer Produce Guide

July 9, 2014 8:00 AM

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

There is nothing quite like fruits and vegetables plucked fresh from the bush or vine, or pulled out of the ground or off the stalk. Connecticut has its big cities and shore towns, but they are but islands in a sea of farmland. From farm stands and farmers’ markets to pick-you-own farms, the state is rich and abundant in fresh produce – especially in the summer.

Fruits and Vegetables in Abundance All Summer Long

Connecticut is covered in farmland. There are vegetable and dairy farms and fruit orchards all over the state. The growing season is long and the climate is perfect for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Beans, squash, broccoli and cabbages start to come in around May and are available through October. Strawberries ripen in June, and in July the farms explode with produce, especially raspberries, blueberries, peaches and sweet corn. In August, the pepper and tomato crops are ready to be plucked, and as summer comes to a close in September, pumpkins are ready in plenty of time to make pies and jack o’lanterns for Halloween.

Things to Remember When Picking Your Own or Hitting a Farmers’ Market

Fruits and vegetables ripen at different times over the course of the summer. Farms and farmers’ markets are not grocery stores, so not everything is available every week. Even when a crop is in season, there can be shortages due to weather and growing conditions or just high demand. It is often wise to call a farm or market ahead of a planned visit to scout out what is available. Buying in large quantities is tempting, but unless the buyer is prepared to freeze or can the fresh fruits and vegetables, what is not immediately consumed will spoil, and spoil quickly. Proper preparation is a must, and those planning to put up fresh fruits and vegetables should do their research and stock up on the appropriate supplies (jars, lids, pectin, freezer bags, etc.).

Related: Ask A Farmer: Philly Summer Produce Guide

Allyn Brown III – One Happy Farmer
Maple Lane Farm
57 N.W. Corner Road
Preston, CT 06365
(860) 889-3766
www.maplelane.com

Allyn Brown III is one happy farmer – and in Connecticut he is not alone in feeling so. A former landscaper who found his true calling in planting food to eat rather than decorative plants to look at, Brown turned an old-fashioned, under-used dairy farm into a fruit and vegetable lover’s heaven. Over 120 acres of berries of all kinds are there for the pick-it-yourself crowd during the summer, and as fall approaches, the apple orchards and pumpkin fields are bursting with treasures. Brown also watches over crops of mushrooms, currants and other produce, most of which he sells to local restaurants, although some of that harvest is often available in his farm store.

Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm
461 Cornwall Bridge Road (Route 4)
Sharon, CT 06069
(860) 364-0025
www.ellsworthfarm.com

For “pick your own” enthusiasts, there are many great family farms to visit in Connecticut, and the Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm in Sharon is one of the kid-friendliest. Little kids especially get a kick out of meeting the farm mascot, Lucy (who appears costumed as a giant strawberry), and there are a number of activities to keep kids busy and entertained (including a corn maze at the end of summer). The farm itself, however, is a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, both for those who want to go about picking their own or for those who just want to go to the farm store to get fresh fruits and other produce.

The Old Statehouse Farmers’ Market
800 Main St.
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 296-9325
www.hartfordfarmersmarkets.org

Connecticut and especially its capital, Hartford, has many farmers’ markets, and the one at the old statehouse on Main Street is one of the best. Open 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Tuesdays and Fridays from June 17 through October 31, the Old Statehouse Farmers’ Market is the flagship for a fleet of farmers’ markets throughout the city. While family farms provide most of the produce, several restaurants and businesses in Hartford, including the Agave Grille, provide prepared and hot foods – or, in the case of Chet’s Italian Ice, something to keep shoppers cool. There is always some live entertainment, provided by local groups like the Camp Lincoln String Band and the Goza and Fiesta Del Norte musicians. Additional information about not only the Old Statehouse Farmers’ Market but the other farmers’ markets around Hartford are available on the website or by calling the contact number.

Related: A Walk Through The Westport Farmers Market

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.

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