Farmers Market party will kick off season

MILFORD >> If you want to talk to the farmer who grows your food, Alex Malaspinas has a party you’ll want to attend.

Malaspinas, market master for Downtown Milford Farmers Market, is trying “to get the vibe going” for this year’s season, so he’s throwing a party where the public can mingle with farmers and other vendors to learn more about the food they buy and more.

“I want them to engage in conversation with the vendors — speak about their wants, needs,” Malaspinas said. “For me, it’s always been great as a consumer to know I can make contact with a farmer and know where my produce is coming from.”

Malaspinas said that as manager of Scratch, a local bakery adjacent to the market lot, “I’m engaged in what’s ripe and fresh.”

The kickoff party, open to the public, will be 6-9 p.m. June 23 at Autumn Rose Flower Shoppe, 990 Bridgeport Ave., also celebrating its five-year anniversary.

And it really will be a party with wine, beer, food and entertainment. Rainbow Gardens Restaurant will serve free food for two hours, and the band Someone You Can X-ray will perform. A suggested donation of $10 per person will go toward improving the market.

The first Saturday farmers market of the season will be held two days later on June 25 at the West River Street parking lot near the train station. The hours each week are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and some 1,000-2,000 people move through the market each week.

Farmer Chris Vaiuso of Vaiuso Farm in Branford likes the idea of mingling with potential customers.

“For one thing, they get to know me, so they know who grows their food,” he said.

Vaiuso said he sells produce that can’t quite classify as organic because of fertilizer, but they hardly use any pesticides.

He said farmers markets are a lot of work for farmers, as opposed to the wholesale side, but they help farmers, as well. At a farmers market, customers are getting produce that was picked that morning or the day before.

Malaspinas, going into his third year as market master, said Milford is a “progressive place,” and he really wants to put a focus on the market this year.

“There needs to be greater attention on this market,” he said. “It’s been big, but not big enough.” Malaspinas said he’s raised $5,000 for marketing this year and hopes the event will expand.

Aside from Vaiuso Farm, vendors include River Crest Farm of Milford; Gentle Giant Farm of Bethany; Maple View Farm of Orange; Ekonk Turkey Hill Farm Meats & Eggs of Moosup; Scratch Baking of Milford; MELT Chocolatier of New Haven; Autumn Rose Flower Shoppe and Rainbow Gardens Restaurant, both of Milford; Durante’s Pasta of West Haven; Molly & Murphy Dog Biscuits of Trumbull.

Also, Walnut Beach Creamery and Milford Rocks Jewelry, both of Milford; PopCentric Gourmet Popsicles of North Haven; Anahi Naturals Soaps & Oils of Greenwich; Carrot Top Kitchens Prepared Foods of Redding; Dash N’ Drizzle Oil & Vinegar of Fairfield; Guardian Angel Goat’s Milk Soaps & More of Naugatuck River Valley; Donna Berlanda Clothier of Milford; MOD Design Furniture Repurposing of Branford; Sally Russo Tarot Reading and Sea Art Creations Jewelry, both of Milford; Siren’s Song Yarn & Fiber of Bethany.

Each market will include musical entertainment.

While kids are always welcome, three market days will have a focus on the young ones with special activities.

Kids days at the market are July 9, Aug. 6 and Sept. 24.

• On July 9, the market will be visited by Shoreline School Kids Cooking Class (sign-up required); Kenny the Clown; Pantochino Monkey; face painting; and Tinkergarten Kids Outdoor Activities.

• Aug. 6 will feature the Critter Caravan, a traveling petting zoo; arts & crafts; Pantochino Production’s “Into the Woods” sneak preview; and Tinkergarten Kids Outdoor Activities.

• The Sept. 24 market will feature Kids Yoga; Tinkergarten Kids Outdoor Activities; and more to be planned.