In a flourishing partnership rooted in family-owned farming and community support, Gilbertie's Herb Gardens has teamed again with the Westport Farmers Market to host an indoor winter home for home-grown, artisanal foods.
On Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through mid-March, Westporters can find a cornucopia of organic and locally sourced products at the winter Westport Farmers Market, which opened for the season Saturday after its summer season at the Imperial Avenue commuter lot.
"We love it," said Lori Cochran-Dougall, marketing director. "We love the partnership. We love the Gilbertie family."
"This really meets our mission of selling local," she said. "When you spend a dollar at a farmers market, you're spending a dollar supporting your community."
She said that large supermarkets disconnect people from the food they eat. "Farmers markets create an avenue for conversation around how your food is grown, why it's grown."
She said advertisers try to replace that vitality by putting pictures of smiling faces on cans and boxes, but it's hardly the same.
"We're honored that they're here, and we're grateful," said Carrie Gilbertie, the herb gardens manager. "One hand helps another."
One of the farm markets in the area, it features a range of vendors and products, including prepared foods, produce, meats and fish, coffee and tea, jewelry and more.
"I like the overall energy and the sense of community support," said Phil Fazio of Fort Hill Farm in New Milford. Also, he said, vendors "are really coming here to show off their work ... so the freshness and quality is off the charts."
"Of course I like that it's local and organic," said Nina Lindia of Old Greenwich, "but at the end of the day you want it to taste good."
"Getting a toddler to taste vegetables is tough," she said, but the quality of food she said that she has found at the region's farm markets has met that challenge.
She said she made the trip to Westport on Saturday to visit her favorite vendor, "Two Guys from Woodbridge," which offers organic greens.
"They're like the Grateful Dead," she said. "We follow them around."
"There aren't too many winter (markets)," said Max Johnson of Two Guys. "It's a great thing to have."
"This is just the best food in Connecticut right here," he said. "Everything is fresh, and you can see where it comes from."
"We grow a lot of winter storage crops and it's a good way to provide people with year-round produce," said David Blyn from Riverbank Farm in Roxbury.
"Eating local is not just in the summer," he said. "We sell canned good and frozen soups." Farm markets, he added, "keep the dollars in Connecticut ... That's worth something, and the food tastes better."
Anne Buisson of Weston concurs. A native of France, she said there's no comparison to the quality of local farm-fresh products and what is sold in large-scale supermarkets.
"We should have many more things like this," she said. "It's a good beginning, but it's still just a beginning. It should go further."
For details, check http://westportfarmersmarket.com