CLINTON — Before enjoying fireworks and a few hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill, shoppers from near and far came out in droves to check out all the fresh produce, meats, cheeses, flowers and arts and crafts galore at the Clinton Farmers Market on the Fourth of July.
Tom and J’nell Geer of Goatchard Farms in Vernon Center said they appreciated the “party atmosphere” of the weekly market that opened for the holiday this year. The couple took advantage of making some new customers and friends who came out to celebrate the Independence Day holiday, many looking for fresh vegetables and ingredients to help complete their family barbecues that day.
“We’ve seen people who usually can’t make the market because they’re working,” said J’nell, adding that it was nice to see some new faces. Their farm stand has been featured at the market for about seven years.
“It’s just like a huge party and we love it here at this market anyway,” she said. “It’s actually the best farmers market we’ve ever seen.”
Goatchard Farms has several specialties, that include homemade honey and maple syrup and organic produce. J’nell Geer also prides her business on its natural, homemade honey soaps, skin lotion and lip balms.
“I also have all-natural sunscreen which is important to me, because I’m a cancer survivor,” J’nell said. As a cancer survivor, it’s also important that the Geer family eats healthy and that they offer foods that will help area families create healthy meals. Tom especially prides himself with his garlic, growing at least 8,000 heads this year that he plans to harvest soon.
Over at Wormont Woolies, Kate Worden, of Cassville, said she was excited to be spending her Fourth at the market. This is the first year her farm stand has been featured on the Village Green.
“I wanted to return to my college hometown, and Clinton is the closest market of any of the farmers markets around,” said the Hamilton College alumnus as to why she chose to start selling her vegetables and goods at the market. “We thought it would also be good to try and branch out from our farm and try to reach more people” while going to different places.
Being a mom, Worden said she appreciates that the Clinton market is family-friendly, where she sees several mothers bring their children every Thursday during the season. She also likes that the market offers the Power of Produce Kids Club, where children are given tokens to buy fresh produce for snacks during their visits. The free program is offered each week at the market.
“I love that this is a place where we (farmers) can teach kids about healthy eating,” Worden said. “That helps us farmers, and it’s great that any kid can purchase their own produce that comes right from farms nearby. Plus, it’s just nice for me to get off the farm for a little bit and come be a little more social.”
Wormont Woolies offers organic vegetables like garlic scapes, fresh organic meats, and Worden’s farm also features her heirloom produce.
“Heirloom produce are older varieties — they get open-pollinated and I’ll save the seeds to grow next year, or I can trade them with other people,” the farmer explained. “An example is the Indian radish pod that I’m offering. It’s a new thing that we can introduce into our diets that you can’t find in any stores around, or” with heirloom produce, “you may be able to grow something grandma may have had on the farm but that you don’t find anymore,” because it may have no longer been considered popular or profitable.
Meanwhile, Sandie Craven-Griffiths was celebrating the Fourth of July in her own personal style — a pair of red, white and blue flower earrings that she quilled herself. Craven-Griffiths and her business, Cats in the Attic Cards, of New Hartford, offers handmade cards, jewelry, boxes and other crafts.
A former “Bobbie,” Craven-Griffiths discovered the art of quilling to help relieve stress before she retired from law enforcement in England. Quilling or paper filigree is an artform that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped and glued together to create decorative designs.
“I was a police officer in England for 30 years,” said Craven-Griffiths. “My husband brought me here about 20 years ago” when he got an engineering job locally.
While she grew up learning knitting and sewing, the business owner said one Christmas, a friend gave her a greeting card that had a quilled design, and she fell in love at first sight.
“My friend gave me a Christmas card with a quilled robin and I had never seen anything like that before,” she said. “I was quite intrigued, so I went to a toy store and found a quilling kit to try on my own. I made a huge mess of the first one, so I went to get another kit and tried it again. That was during a day before the Internet, so I bought a craft magazine and I wrote the company who made the kit, and they sent me more information in how to do it.”
Craven-Griffiths has been crafting strong ever since and has gotten quite skilled at her favorite artform. Over at her table, customers can find handmade greeting cards, teapot and teacup boxes, earrings, necklaces and pictures.
Clinton Farmers Market runs every Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., now through Oct. 3.