Farmers market kicks off summer season
WESTPORT — Westport Farmers Market executive Lori Cochran-Dougall gave a toast to the people in attendance at Thursday’s opening day to show gratitude, welcome the harvest season and encourage good luck.
Not that they may need it. According to Cochran-Dougall, even with some of the strictest guidelines in the state, the market keeps developing.
She said she hopes people come down and enjoy themselves, even while waiting in line or talking to passers-by. She compared the experience to grocery stores, filled with metal carts, seeing faces on boxes that no one knows and feeling cold.
Coming from a background in corporate marketing, the Easton resident’s family has been involved in local food advocacy for many years.
“This year we’ve gained so much interest, we really have to make sure we stay authentic and meet our mission of supporting local farms and mom and pops,” she said. “That’s what’s important.”
The market will be open every Thursday until November from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 50 Imperial Ave.
It features dozens of vendors ranging from seafood stalls and vegan ice pops to a wood-fired pizza truck and, of course, farmers’ tents with rainbow swiss chards, bundles of bok choy, flowers from the Muddy Feet Flower Farm and more.
The champagne provided for the toast was actually tea from the vendor, Champagne Tea, a Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based business ran by James Hibler.
Hibler, who came along with son River, sells handmade kombucha, a fermented tea with naturally occurring bubbles, hence the “champagne” comparison.
He used to work for a financial firm in Westport, before switching to a tea business in 2011 he said. “It was the funnest thing I ever did in my life.”
Among the flavors are ginger tumeric, and a new mango flavor that is tangy with a hint of the classic kombucha fermentation flavor.
Many of the vendors, like Champagne Teas, are on rotating schedules where alternating vendors will come in on designated weeks.
Another rotating vendor is clinical herbalist Tynne Love. Love, who specializes in Eastern and Western herbalism, sells an array of elixirs, syrups, teas and tinctures which she said supports the body with natural medicine.
Love’s mother was an herbalist, but the artist/actor/musician/massage therapist, didn’t always think she’d be following in her footsteps, but stepped in when she saw a need.
“People are pretty unhappy with doctors, medicine, the price of medicine,” she said, adding they’re looking for less side-effects, more natural ingredients and more affordability.
Her most popular item is the “Elderberry Elixir,” which she says is made with a “secret proprietary process” to make it more concentrated than others on the market. Love said she even gets customers who come from New York to buy it.
“This market is the very supportive of all we do,” Love said. “The people who come are health conscious, more interested in being eco-friendly and sustainability.”