Josh Viertel, an associate director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, had unfortunately run out of cabbage. Selling produce from Yale’s Farnam Gardens at the City Farmers’ Market, Viertel did not have much left this late in the growing season, but his customer was adamant, insisting that she wanted cabbage from his farm.
Such enthusiasm for sustainable foods is far from uncommon at the market, held Saturdays in Wooster Square between Chapel and Wooster streets. The market, founded this July by local residents Jennifer McTiernan and Anne Haynes, has already developed a significant following among both New Haven residents and local Connecticut farmers.
“New Haven needed this,” said Chris Killheffer of the Northfordy Farm in Northford, Conn. “You can tell by the turnout that the demand was here.”
Nearly 15 local farms, many of which grow organic or pesticide-free produce, sell their goods at the market. In addition to fresh produce, farmers sell a variety of locally produced goods, from maple syrup to freshly-baked breads.
The current market season will end Saturday Oct. 23. The market, which runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., is approximately a 10-minute walk from the Yale campus.
The market is the first project of CitySeed, an organization founded to run the Wooster Square market and develop further plans for promoting sustainable food. The market will continue next year, and CitySeed is currently applying for 501(c)3 status as a non-profit organization, said Haynes, co-founder of CitySeed with McTiernan and a member of its Board of Directors.
“We felt strongly that we should have [a farmers' market] in our neighborhood,” Haynes said. “We not only loved food — but we did not have a market for local produce.”
The market has developed into a focus for the nearby community and a forum for brainstorming ways to revitalize the park in which the market is held, Haynes said.
She said markets have traditionally served as a “catalyst” for community interaction.
“Even though people are doing errands, they’re also greeting each other and seeing each other,” Haynes said.
Stasha Monahan, who runs the Stone Gardens farm in Shelton, Conn. with her husband Fred, said that the market’s vibrant atmosphere has convinced her and her husband to continue selling their produce at the market next year.
“People really seem to appreciate us being here,” Monahan said. “There’s regulars every week.”
Viertel said that the popularity of the market has “really exploded” since it began it July.
“The experience of talking to customers about food you grew is a really rich and fun experience,” said Viertel. “It gives customers something they can’t find in a supermarket.”
The success of the City Farmers’ Market reflects an increased interest in organic and local farming in New England.
Bill Duesing ’64, the executive coordinator of the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, said people are becoming more interested in organic farming, often as they are increasingly aware of the detrimental health effects of pesticides and hormones. Duesing said he is contacted frequently by people interested in starting an organic farm in Connecticut.