The Downtown Milford Farmers Market opened for the season recently, joining forces with the Downtown Milford Business Association in a team effort to produce a bigger and better 2018 market.

The Downtown Milford Business Association will help run the market. Now celebrating its 13th year, the market is located at 58 River Street, and offers locally grown produce and food products (including baked goods, honey, flowers, coffee, oysters, gluten free day and eggs) from more than 25 farms, as well as unique, handcrafted items by artisanal vendors, food and ice cream trucks, and also features festive live music each week.

“We’re so pleased to be working with the market this year,” said Tracy Bonosconi, association president. “We’re all about community and thanks to the good work of the market masters before us, the farmers market has become a true summer weekend destination. On any given market day, you’ll find folks discovering new goodies, kids playing, people dancing, and friends and families spending time together. You can’t ask for anything more than that.”

The market originated in 2005 thanks to founders Susan Shaw, Susan Shacklesford, Lisa Blanchard and Ann Maher. As members of the business association, this team of four was behind many popular and enduring local events including Pirates Day and the Lamplight Stroll. Before long, the team of four became five when Kathy Donovan began researching the best ways to get a market off the ground. After much deliberation and with support from the state Department of Agriculture along with that of recruited veteran farmer Sabrina Santoro of Sunflower Farm, who assumed the role as market master, the plan was forged.

Additional supporters included Joe and Lou Agro, longtime Milford business owners and association Members who offered the use of their property complete with a parking lot, outdoor electricity and restrooms - free of charge - each year.

Each of the founders of the market believes in civic responsibility and giving back. Kathy Donovan conceived the idea of setting aside one area each week for a different nonprofit, allowing them an opportunity to set up and share their wares. Over the years, numerous nonprofits have been given this opportunity.

After many successful years, Santoro in 2012 passed the market master torch onto Alex Malaspinas, who kept the spirit of the market alive with continued offerings of local foods and products and by adding artisan vendors to the mix. Since its inception, the market has accepted food stamps and senior vouchers. “We only sell Connecticut produce and goods, helping foster our state’s small business and agriculture economy,” team members said. “It is our mission to support the vision of our founders and continue to make the market a place for the community to come together.”

This year’s market master Greg Ferro said, “We are excited to build on a great market that has been here in downtown Milford for over a decade. Alex did a great job the last five years overseeing this market. I’m happy to take the baton from him and move forward this summer with the business association. We are looking forward to an incredible season where we are able to bring our farmers together and the Milford community together and really create a sense of belonging here in downtown Milford. Our farmers market creates an amazing opportunity for the best of our community to come together. We have our farmers bringing their best vegetables to create healthy opportunities for the community, we have wonderful vendors showing their artistic abilities and their amazing products and most importantly we have the Milford community coming together sharing their recipes, sharing their stories, starting their Saturdays here.”

“By joining forces, we stand to make downtown an even more desirable destination and give our residents a way to connect with their community,” said Bonosconi.

The market will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m.- 1p.m. through Oct. 16. Visit www.downtownmilfordfarmersmarket.com for a complete list of vendors.