No matter where I travel around New England from May through October, I am always thinking about which Farmers’ Market I can visit as part of my trip, and I know I’m not alone. The popularity of community markets has grown so much over the past few years that it seems most towns set aside a few hours each weekend (and sometimes twice a week) for local farmers, specialty food producers, and artists to gather to sell their wares directly to members of their own community, resulting in the ultimate win-win for both parties.
I had a free weekend recently, and decided to plan a whole day around visiting a new market, but which one? I turned to Yankee and got my answer. The Coventry Farmers’ Market was named the Best Farmers’ Market in our 2012 Editors’ Picks for Best Local Attractions in Connecticut, where it was referred to as the state’s “largest opportunity for fresh food and fun: From June to October, booths line the grounds of the Nathan Hale Homestead, showcasing weekly themes such as wine, art, honey, and salsa.”
The Coventry Farmers’ Market was also named as one of the Best Five Farmers’ Markets in New England by Christine Chitnis, author of Markets of New England. Needing no additional convincing, I set out on a summery Sunday morning for Coventry!
The market is held at the historic Capt. Nathan Hale Homestead. Hale became a state hero when, in 1776 at the age of 21, he was accused by the British of being a spy, and then hanged. The homestead was never actually home to Capt. Hale, since it was built by his father and completed the same year the captain died, but it endures as a historical monument to his sacrifice and memory.
If you want to learn more about Nathan Hale, the Hale family, or the house, there is a table at the market for all of your questions.
I’ve been to many farmers’ markets throughout New England, and the Coventry Market truly does have something for everyone, validating its top spot. In addition to the normal roster of seasonal produce, meats, dairy, and baked goods, the market has specialty food items, artistic gifts, demonstrations, music, lunch options, and a scenic setting with plenty of places to grab a seat or patch of grass to enjoy the day.
Each week the market is focused around a theme — usually based on what’s in season — and for my visit they were celebrating Blueberries and Bluegrass.
Produce is plentiful, which is, of course, the main staple at any farmers’ market…
But Coventry also offers plenty of beyond-basic items — things like kettle corn (in both traditional and blueberry on the day of my visit), maple cotton candy, fudge, dripping honeycombs, Italian stuffed breads, salsa, and maple peanut brittle.
I finally settled on Agave’s Taqueria. It’s hard for me to pass up a burrito…
My $6 burrito was stuffed with grilled veggies, black beans, rice, and chipotle sauce. I confess I have never has peas in a burrito before, but it worked. Strolling in the sunshine works up an appetite, and I was happy just to grab some shade and people watch while I ate.
With my mouth on fire from the burrito, I did what anyone would (or should) do and bought a Raspberry Swirl cookie for $1 from Morning Glory Homemade Goods to take the edge off. It was a classic bakery-style cookie, soft and chewy with lots of buttery flavor and a ring of raspberry (jam?) throughout.
Which market should we head to next?
Want more Farmers’ Markets?
- The Yankee Seeker visits Boston’s Copley Square Farmers’ Market
- Christine Chitnis, author of Markets of New England, gives her picks for the Five Best Farmers’ Markets in New England plus her Five Honorable Mentions and Best Winter Farmers’ Markets
- View a slide show of Market Roots, a photo project orchestrated by the Coventry Farmers’ Market that uses images tell stories about the farms in our communities