Rain and Shine

Rain and Shine

Dark skies and heavy rains couldn’t dampen bright smiles and high hopes at Wednesday’s opening of the 2023 Dixwell/Q House Farmers’ Market. The soggy first day launched the second season of the weekly event presented by CitySeed and L.E.A.P., which will run every Wednesday through October.

“We’re really excited,” CitySeed’s market manager Blaise Berglund said. As she finished making change for a customer, she turned her attention to the menacing weather. “Our markets operate rain or shine, so here we are,” she added, flashing a wide grin.

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International Festival of Arts & Ideas

This is the second year for the Dixwell market, which faced this dreary opening day with optimism built on a grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. The grant will match cash and credit purchases for the year up to $14,000, doubling customers’ buying power. “We’re giving them two dollars in chips for every dollar they ,” Blaise says. “This way they can buy more food, our vendors will sell more and everyone should be happy.” The grant also covers the exhibit fee for vendors. “So it’s a double win for them,” she says. “They get to set up for free and then they sell twice as much as they would otherwise.”

The grant will certainly bolster sales over the course of the summer, but this wet and windy opening day did put a dripping damper on attendance. Only about half the expected vendors showed up, to say nothing of the customers, but their inventory spanned A to Z, asparagus to zinnias, and their results offered more than a glimmer of hope.

Early on at the Massaro Community Farm tent, a woman picked up asparagus, collard greens, turnips, kale and several other vegetables for more than $40 in chips. She didn’t want to give her name, but she was happy to give an endorsement: “I go to a lot of markets,” she said. “And I love this one.” Massaro’s Alanna Gilbert had already recorded “a few sales. It’s obviously slow,” she said, “but we’re really committed to this market. We’re hoping to really see it take off.” As she was talking, a strong gust threatened a literal takeoff for the tent, and both she and I hung on to the frame to keep it in place.

Next door at the Fair Haven Garden Exchange tent, with potted plants for wares, owner Lisa Angelico was happy to answer the question: Have you made any sales? “Oh, yes. Three so far.” Considering the weather, she was satisfied with her results. “This is my first year here, and I’m coming back every week.”

When I asked another vendor his name, he answered, “Dishaun Harris, but everybody calls me Farmer D.” Huddled in a tent with a warm-looking hoodie covering his head, he sat at a table displaying his harvest: little plastic packs of Root Life microgreens. “They’re healthier than full-size vegetables,” he said, highlighting their nutrient density. “They’re harvested while they’re still seedlings before their leaves develop. Even though they’re small, they have a big flavor and an even bigger content of nutrients.” He added that he grows them at several locations around New Haven. Several locations? He responded to my skeptical look with a grin. “It’s hard to find open space to grow things in the city.” Even micro-things.

The market was drenched, but not drowned, and the staff and vendors took it in tough Yankee stride. CitySeed’s Berglund maintained her sunny outlook: “The rain is good for the crops,” she said, smiling. “This will be an abundant year. Today’s gotta be a good omen for that.”

Dixwell/Q House Farmers’ Market
Daniel Stewart Plaza – 197 Dixwell Ave, New Haven (map)
Wed 3-6pm through 10/25

Written by Jim Murphy. Photographed by Dan Mims. Image 1 features the CitySeed contingent—from left, market manager Blaise Berglund, market assistant Sandy Flores and intern and Yale Conservation Scholar Damaris Ibrahim. Image 2 features Massaro farmer and market manager Alanna Gilbert. Image 3 features Root Life founder Dishaun Harris.

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