It’s back. The Meriden Farmers’ Market opens its second season at the Hub downtown this Saturday. Organizers said recently that the market includes customers’ favorite elements from last year, plus a few improvements.
- Fresh flowers and plants from Casertano Farms in Cheshire
- Fresh baked bread from C-Town Market in New Britain (which will be opening a store in Meriden later this year)
- Breakfast and lunch offerings from The Arc Eatery, a restaurant run by the Arc of Meriden-Wallingford and staffed by individuals with disabilities
Another change from last year will be the hours of operation. The market opens an hour later, at 9 a.m., and stays open an hour later, until 1 p.m., each Saturday through October 20. This change was made to accommodate requests from many market-goers last year, according to Ed Peczynski, one of a core group of volunteers who runs the Meriden Farmers’ Market.
The market will feature a number of theme weeks this year, as well, Peczynski said. Opening day, for instance, will be Community Service Appreciation Day. A dozen volunteer and social service organizations will set up booths to let the public know about the programs they offer.
Just like last year, the 2012 market will provide free entertainment by a different musical group from the region each week. Leading off this Saturday will be Inner Groove, a quintet described on their Facebook page as “an eclectic mix of rock and classic rock, with the occasional pop and country song thrown in for good measure.”
In addition to the weekly staples, the market will also showcase a variety of other vendors that change from week to week. Their wares will include everything from arts and crafts to locally made soaps, relishes, baked goods and more.
Mayor Mike Rohde said that the revamped farmers’ market is part of the city’s downtown expansion plan. He envisions it as “a gathering place for the people of the city”—a place where folks come to buy their fresh fruits and veggies, get breakfast or lunch, and stay to enjoy the music.
“The farmers’ market is paving the way for when the Hub becomes a walkway and park,” Rohde said.
In 2011, its first year at the Hub, the Meriden Farmers’ Market doubled participation from its former location in a parking lot on Butler Street, Rohde said. “It will probably double again this year,” he predicts.
Peczynski says last year’s market drew top crowds of about 300. “We’re hoping to expand up to about 500,” he said of this year’s goal.
The market is organized and run by a core group of seven volunteers, mainly retired. The mayor is also very involved.
“Mike Rohde has put a lot of his personal time into putting this together,” Peczynski said.
Rohde’s admiration for the group is equal. “It’s one of the best volunteer associations I’ve been involved with,” he said.
This year, the volunteer committee sought out the involvement of , a community center that offers athletic and community service activities for Meriden youth. The organization’s community garden is located near the farmers’ market.
“We would like to see the Meriden Farmers’ Market become a permanent division of the Beat the Street organization,” Peczynski said.
He also hopes people will make a habit of coming down to the Hub on a Saturday morning to get their bread and produce. “We want people to make it a Saturday ritual,” he said.
If you decide to go this weekend, here’s a piece of advice: Get there early. Last year during opening day, much of the produce sold out within the first hour.