DURHAM — The town’s weekly farmers market, which has turned the Town Green into a shopper’s haven and cornucopia of produce, goodies, unique products and other features for about a decade, is a locovore’s delight.
“It’s very important everything is made here in Connecticut: the more local the better,” said Market Master Jon Scagnelli, who just took over the town-sponsored event this year. It runs rain or shine.
The new slogan adorning the market’s logo aptly sums up the agrarian history of this small, rural town: “‘Shop local. Eat local. Be local.’ That’s really what the farmers market is about,” he said.
Every Thursday through Sept. 12, vendors of all varieties fill the Town Green (on Main Street) from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
There are tried-and-true crowd favorites and new merchants, too: Chet’s Italian Ice of New Britain, Glastonbury-based Dondero Orchards, Chatfield Hollow Farms, which specializes in mushrooms; Humblebee Honey, Sweet Sage Bakery, Hometown Baker, Auntie Arwen’s Spices, Durham Soap Works, MJ Custom Jewelry, Ungardening Native Plants and Adelbrook Bark-ery.
Last week, special guests included Knitty Gritty Yarn Girl, The Leaner Wiener Food Truck and live music from 1000 Watt Band.
Every week, there are 16 regular vendors along with several featured merchants. The market still entertains healthful small business participation, even in the rain, Scagnelli said.
This week, market goers can expect strawberries, various in-season greens, radishes, carrots, turnips and other hearty vegetables. Last week, Forest City Farms of Middletown stopped by with its greenhouse tomatoes, all of which sold out.
The Bend in the River Bluegrass Band will play live, weather permitting, taking the stage at 4:30 p.m. Thursday is Heroes’ Day, with vendor discounts given to veterans and active military members.
“Without them, who knows what kind of condition our country would be in?” asked Scagnelli, who comes from a family with a long record of service, including his uncles and grandfather.
His uncle, Robert Scagnelli of Wallingford, also his godfather, earned a Purple Heart in the Vietnam War. “It hits home. [Veterans] have a special place with me.”
Another well-received feature is children’s story time at 5 p.m., courtesy of the Durham Public Library.
Frank Andrews Mobile Kitchen of Killingworth is enjoying its sixth season at the Durham Farmers Market. In business for 10 years, these pizza purveyors specialize in locally grown and made ingredients.
“We take pride in our dough, and use different flour than everyone else. It took us a while to improvise,” said chef and co-owner Frank Andrews, who runs the business with his son, Max DeMusis, the “master pizzaiolo.”
Andrews, who retired from AT&T after 24 years, began baking artisan breads, pizza and calzones for family and friends in his self-made, backyard wood-fired brick/Italian clay oven.
His crispy and thin New Haven-style pies grew to such popularity, Andrews decided to give his business a go.
This past winter, Andrews and DeMusis rebuilt both ovens to get them market ready.
DeMusis, who originally planned to be a teacher, saw how much his father enjoyed his new hobby-turned-line-of-work, and decided to join the endeavor.
The love and care they put into their creations mirror the feelings they have for one another.
Andrews and his son “will forever be attached,” Andrews said, after Demusis saved his life in a monumental way — by donating his kidney after Andrews had a heart attack, underwent a heart bypass, and suffered kidney failure.
Andrews grew up on a small farm, and insists on working with as many organic farmers as possible, including Starlight Gardens in Durham, Hunts Brook of Chester, Four Root in East Haddam and Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market & Winery of Guilford.
His mobile kitchen’s most popular, speciality “crazy pie” is a pear, Gorgonzola bacon and honey creation. “It’s totally unique and the flavors are salty and sweet,” Andrews said.
Sunday at the Chester Farmers Market, where the food truck appears weekly, Andrews partnered with the Little House Brewing Co. of Chester, incorporating their stout in a short-rib glaze with caramelized onions and cheese.
Every pie sold quickly.
The pizza truck can also be found at the Madison Farmers Market on Fridays.
When Franks vends at the Clinton Crossing Outlets, he’ll use the wood-fired oven to make Cuban sandwiches, as well as eggplant grinders with a selection of pestos, calzones and much more.
Andrews also caters to large and small group events, including intimate parties for as few as 30 guests.
“We’re much more flexible, because we can fit in places the trucks can’t. We can nestle in some really crazy spots: We can disconnect it and move it around, so it’s more of a personalized event.”