Photos One and Two: Dog Sweaters For Breeds of Many Sizes available at West Haven Farmers’ Market
Photo Three: Creator Nancy Todd, one of the Farmers’ Market vendors, beside handmade 100% pure silk curtains – just one example of the goods for sale at the market
By Christine Gallo
Economic Development Commission
The constant sea breeze riffles the water which stretches out to the teal horizon and beyond. The sun spangles it with diamonds. The trees along our shoreline rustle quietly in their greenbelt against the brown-sugar sands, Could anything improve this scene – say, a nice extra just a couple of times a week?
I’m thinking (and if you know me you know this)…retail.
Like the holiday pop-up shop that attracted such attention last December, West Haven’s Farmers’ Market has a variety of products on offer, most handmade and/or locally produced. It’s small business at its finest, with an ocean view.
This year the market has featured homemade breads and baked goods, locally bottled olive oils and marinades, jewelry of every style for every taste, candles, soaps and closet/car diffusers, and decor and trinkets from boho woodwork to opalite marbles.
Nonprofits and other service providers also set up, proffering information (and various and sundry freebies – how I love my freebies!) Knowledge is always power, and you can become pretty potent depending upon what you want to know. Take MarieLourrdes Derisse, for example. She’s an insurance broker specializing in Medicare counseling. Anyone approaching this milestone – and anyone who has already navigated the incredibly complex Medicare landscape – can attest under oath to the Derisse’s statement that Medicare is “so very complicated”. Contradictory information and misinformation is rife; even the government website and the SSA don’t always give clear answers – or give answers later cast in doubt by different information. Derisse is an expert who has the answers and she’s always happy to help. She’s been a fixture at the market since it began in early July; if is approaching 65, approaching her “Medicare Life” station is a sound idea..
Vendors of things whimsical and utilitarian, savory and sweet, and those things you buy for gifts and those you just want to keep for yourself – are gathered under the trees.
A sampling one market day at the hot, humid tail end of August led first to long-time marketeer Katie Becker. Originally from Orange, Katie has lived in West Haven for 20 years and works hard to support the community, appearing at various festivals and pop up shops – and she’s been part of the Farmers’ Market for six years. “I really want to support my community,” she says. Becker is known for her jewelry and keychains. Her most popular this year are proving to be the cosmic collection, necklaces and bracelets that celebrate images from the space telescope with colorful clouds and puffs and patterns of color. Becker’s other big sellers are Italian millefiore glass pieces in a myriad of colors, shapes and sizes. She also has stainless steel, non-tarnishing unisex chain necklaces with charms or beads. Becker smiles: “I live here; I want to do my part to make it even prettier.”
Ameira, a student at the University of New Haven who does henna skin designs, is nearby. She also creates her own stickers and handpainted wooden alphabet decor. Ameira has been working at her craft for seven years. When she saw an advertisement for the Farmers’ Market online, “I am familiar with the area, so I figured I would try it and see.” as she’s been at different farmers’ markets and knows the territory.
Opposite we see some remarkably colorful curtains waving languorously in the ocean breezes (pure silk, and not just for the tent – luxuriously for sale) . Nancy Todd, owner, designer and maker at Imaginancy Creations, is ensconced within the tent, surrounded by her handiwork. A biology teacher who really ramped up her output during the pandemic, Todd leans to the natural world for many of her designs. Earrings featuring artichokes, dinosaurs, owls, mushrooms, puppies, hot peppers, bunnies? She’s got them, and many more. She also sells some plants, as well as plant-themed items.
As a dog walker and sitter, Todd’s inventory also includes plenty o’pup (cat/ferret etc.) accoutrement. Dog sweaters (even ones for larger dogs, which are difficult to find), dog summer coverups (basically very fashionable, non-sticky pooch sunscreen), pet hammocks, pet throws. and costumes. Is a ferret costumes on your wish list? This is your vendor. Todd will do custom orders, so you can conjure up your own ferret (or labradoodle) costume or coverup.
There are also handmade decorative items and ornaments made from Maine coast seashells and milkweed pods from West Haven’s own shorefront (as a childrens’ book author, Todd has quite the backstories for these – check these out).
Nearby we come to EB Essentials, another colorful enclave stuffed with handmade goods. When Edith Bostick retired, “I didn’t want to just stay home,” she says. “I always had a knock for sewing, so I began sewing…” Bostick sure did sew… around her we have high-quality baby burp cloths, baby “lovey” blankets (baby showers coming up?), and reading pillows – pillows with a pocket for a book, notebook or computer tablet (back-to-school gift, anyone?)…EB Essentials also specializes in handmade bracelets of all sorts, produced by assistants Sky, Elle and Amelia, who are always there at the market with Bostick. We’re talking inspirational bracelets, kiddie bracelets, lava rock bracelets, and themed bracelets. Not enough accessories for you? Sky also makes cloth headbands. and there’s a huge selection of different kinds of scrunchies and hair ties (the latter also packaged for gifting, but you may just want to keep them for yourself), as well as satin scrunchie keychain fobs and keychain pompom fobs available in too many hues for any rainbow to compete. Bostick’s enterprise has been a regular at the market; stop by and meet the makers, and don’t forget to give a greet to roadie Dexter “DB” who helps them set up and dismantle every market day.
Before I close, I hear you barking, big dog…where are the Farmers at said Farmers’ Market? There are two large farm stands, set up adjacent to the boardwalk promenade. Both have been involved with West Haven’s market for years. John Marcucio is a twelve-year veteran. Daughter Barbara and assistant Karen explain how Marcucio, who does different markets, was approached by the city years ago. “It’s a nice area, and he wanted to help the community,” Barb and Karen say. “People thank us for being here.”
Most of the produce is organic, and all fruit and vegetables, as well as honey, are from local Connecticut producers. The usuals are available: corn, tomatoes, peaches, lettuce, cukes. But one can also get garlic, jalapeno peppers, Italian plums, white peaches, cider, pickling cucumbers and other less-common local produce. As anyone can tell you, fresh local produce trucked in is fresher than whatever the supermarket can provide; even when they’re bragging about local produce, how long did it have to sit in a warehouse or at a distribution center? What’s more, the Farmers’ Market farmers seem to be selling at a savings as to what I’ve seen elsewhere. “We’ll be bringing in pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and other fall decorations,” Karen explains.
The Farmers’ Market is open 10-3 Thursdays and Saturdays at Oak Street. It will be open through October, so plan on getting those dog sweaters and pumpkins…and in getting a head start on all that holiday shopping. You’ll be supporting local businesses, and get that ocean view as a bonus.