The Westport Farmers' Market

The Top 7 Insider Tips to the Westport Farmers' Market

Photos and List Created by the Food in Literature Juniors '19

A Farmers' Market can differ every time you go. The vendors change, the weather may be different, and you may not be used to the environment. Many people show up to the Westport Farmers' Market just to walk around and explore, but end up marking their calendars every Thursday for the rest of the summer. From people who have never gone to a Farmers' Market before, to people who depend on it for their produce, the Westport Farmers' Market is welcoming towards everyone. The environment is laid back and open to new visitors, and the event often welcomes new vendors as well.

You may be asking yourself why listen to high school kids writing about the Farmers' Market; we will tell you why. As recent attendees of the Westport Farmers' Market, we have one of the freshest memories of what it's like. We also now have in depth experiences on what it's like to be a vendor and a customer there. We were lucky enough to be able to serve food to the customers and we also got the chance to walk around and talk to all the different vendors. There was no limit to the array of produce and goods they had available.

There can be many different factors that can contribute to your overall experience at the Market, and whether you're a frequent visitor to the Westport Farmers' Market, or have never even been, there are always new things you can learn. Here are some tips ranging from recommendations, necessities, and new information from the Food in Literature class, which attended the entire 2019 opening day, that can help you have the best experience as possible!

#1. Make a plan for your day.

When going to the farmers market, one of the most important things to do is to plan out your day! After you pick a date to go, you should look up the Westport Farmers' Market online to see what vendors will be there that day. This will make sure you're going on a day that has the vendors of your choice. You're going to want to show up at the farmers market close to the time it opens so you can have the opportunity to buy what you want before it all sells out, and don't forget to bring money. Some might be able to take cards but I suggest cash. Doing all of this beforehand will make sure you get the chance to best prepare for your day at the farmers market.

When you finally arrive, its good to bring a couple of your own reusable bags so you have a place to keep all of the goods that you buy. It's helpful to check out all of the stands at the Farmers' Market to make sure you don't miss the opportunity to buy something new that you might like. It's also good to check out if any of the stands are demonstrating free food that they cooked themselves, like what my Food in Lit class did recently at the market.

After visiting as many stands as you would like, there is also an opportunity to buy great food for lunch at one of the food trucks or at a stand that is selling lunch as well. Planning your day to the market will make sure your time there is the best it can be.

#2. Smother on SPF. Always.

You're going to a farmer's market. Obviously, this is an outdoor event that takes place during the transition of Spring to Summer. You want to get there bright and early to make sure you're first in line for the fresh produce and hot lunches. Keep in mind that the UV index SKYROCKETS during the prime Farmer's Market hours (12-2), and if you're even relatively sensitive to the sun, you NEED sunscreen. I was under a tent for 75% of my time at the Farmer's Market and I still managed to get burned... so I highly recommend bringing a bottle of sunscreen with you on your trip to the farmer's market.

#3. Buy produce and other goods early; later, there won't be much left.

All the vendors at the farmers market have amazing produce and delicious goods to choose. Make sure to get to the Farmers' Market early to make your rounds and find which stands you'd like to make your purchases. It's open from 10-2, so if you get there around 9:45, you should be able to have first picks. Shortly after opening, most of the stands fill up quickly with patrons. Don't wait until the end because it will be too late and most of the produce and other items are sold out. When I was there, Sono Bakery sold out of most of their baked goods: all of their delicious pretzels and bagels were sold out. Also, Sport Hill Farm sold out of pretty much all of their produce by 1:00 pm and there was nothing left but a few sad lettuce leaves. If you plan on spending the day, there are a few things that you can do to make your day run a little smoother. If your planning on shopping a decent amount, I would bring a bag for your baked goods and a cooler bag with an ice pack or two for your produce fresh.

#4. When looking for lunch, watch out for the long lines because they only get longer!

The Farmers' Market is full of amazing vendors whose food is fresh and delicious. This is almost a double edged sword because the lines get very long, very fast. A good plan of attack is to take a walk around the whole market and see which stands you would be interested in eating. The only struggle is that maybe you don't want pizza or a tamale at 10am, so my first stop would be Raus coffee. When I took my first sip of Raus Coffee I was taken aback; it was unlike any other coffee I have ever had, so much so that I bought a bottle. Maybe after your coffee, you could go over to Sono Bakery to get yourself one of their fresh pastries. There's no shortage of activities at the Farmers' Market: there's live music and activities each week (in opening week, you could have planted your own vegetables), so you surely won't be bored. For lunch, there are countless options; if you're a pizza lover, there's dough girls, a food truck that serves freshly made pizza fresh out of a brick oven. If you are a Mexican cuisine kind of person, theres box car cantina. They serve authentic Mexican food with the freshest ingredients. Skimping on dessert would be a shame, so you could check out Izzi B's allergen-free baking where you can find a bunch of pastries without the worry of having to check for allergens. Or if you're more of a cookie person there's K is for Cookies, where you can find a variety of cookies.

#5. Head over to Boxcar!

If you are looking for a truly authentic food experience, make your way over to Boxcar Cantina. Let me tell you, as someone who has tried everything on the menu over my past few trips to the Farmer's Market that Boxcar was actually at the market, I have methodically tried everything on their menu and have yet to be disappointed. It is important that if you want your choice of which delicious treat you want, you absolutely have to get to the market on the earlier side. When we got to Boxcar around 11:30, everything was still available from the menu, but when we went back before leaving around 1, about half of the menu was sold out. My recommendation for your first time at the market is to experience the Chicken Tinga Tamale. Combining both the crumbling masa at the bottom that holds the steamy chicken, pico de gallo, and fresh salsa together truly create a taste that will drive you back to the market every week.

#6. Be daring and try foods outside of your comfort zone.

When walking around the Westport Farmers' Market, there are a couple of safe bets that most of the audience would enjoy, including both the Dough Girls and Melt grilled cheese trucks. If you are a picky eater, don't worry; there will be food options for those who are not adventurous. However, the farmers market is also the best place to expand your palette and open your mind to new and delicious food items. Don't be afraid to try a new vegetable or even a new spice, as it can possibly be one of the best flavors you experience. All of the food is very fresh, and since you are able to talk to the vendors, you are also educated about the food you are eating.

For my adventurous experience at the Farmers' Market, I was able to try the tamales from the Boxcar Cantina, as I have never had this dish before. I was rewarded for taking this chance, as I was able to enjoy one of the best and freshest meals I have ever had. Both the meat and vegetables incorporated within this dish was sold out quickly, as this seemed to be one of the most popular meals at one of the most popular vendors. And if you want more tips about Boxcar Cantina, look at #5!

#7. Don't be afraid to talk to vendors!

Walking into the Farmer's Market can be a lot to handle. There comes to be hundreds of customers, and because the market is filled to the brim, it can be very overwhelming, and pretty difficult to figure out where to start. Everyone seems incredibly busy and it's a pretty hectic environment, but once you get started visiting stands and talking to the people behind the booths, it's a lot of fun. The vendors are all so sweet and open to questions and conversations about their work, and learning about their experiences as farmers and entrepreneurs. It's incredibly interesting to learn about everything that it takes to become a small farmer, how much work and effort it takes, and how it differs from other typical lifestyles.

I can get pretty intimidated when it comes to big crowds, and it definitely took a while to begin to get around. The first place that I went to was Nit Noi Provisions, a local and sustainable restaurant based in Norwalk, CT that crafts Thai-inspired broths and soups made with organic vegetables and pasture-raised animals. There were 2 people working at the time, and they were both incredibly kind and told me a lot about themselves as a restaurant, as well as gave me their recommendations for their broths. After that pleasant encounter, I began to make my way around the rest of the market as well, talking to vendor to vendor, learning more about different things every time. By the end of the day, it's incredibly rejuvenating to be able to gain so much knowledge on something, as well as have so much fun while doing it!

We encourage you to visit the Westport Farmers' Market to find out more information!