For local food fans, these first sunny, warm weekend mornings have brought one thought… “Is my farmers’ market open today?” We’re ready for the foods of spring: tender spears of asparagus, bunches of foraged ramps, chevre, and duck eggs. While Connecticut hosts more than 100 markets in summertime, only a handful are operating now. The Stonington Village Winter Farmers’ Market at the Velvet Mill on Bayview Avenue in Stonington, 10-1 on Saturdays, is one of them.

2015-03-27 10.49.17

It’s a producer-only market, which is the highest caliber of market, meaning that everything offered there, from hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes to artisan breads, aged cheeses, polenta, and jams are grown or made by the person selling them to you.

2015-03-27 10.54.33

This market runs year-round, moving back outside to the Stonington Docks in late May. The quality and diversity of products is excellent. This is where the first crops of spring will be found, but even now vendors’ tables are loaded with pies; fresh greens, radishes, scallions, and herb bouquets grown in the hothouse; local wine; potatoes; heirloom apples; eggs; honey; maple syrup; Connecticut-landed seafood; beef; pork; chicken; lamb; sheep’s milk cheese; and microgreens.

2015-03-27 10.24.46

A few vendors each week round out the market’s selection with artisan handcraft goods: pottery buttons, yarn, soap, pottery, and felted woolens.

2015-03-27 10.43.28

Just as a summer farmers’ market is a place of social gathering, here you’ll find live music, children’s activities, and a café, with wi-fi and seating, serving scratch-made breakfast and lunch dishes.

2015-03-27 10.52.26

In addition to the farmers’ market, the Velvet Mill shops offer an eclectic mix of arts, furniture, and foods. Don’t miss getting a sticky bun at Zest or a pint of micro-brew, glass of wine, or chance to fill your growler at Beer’d Brewing.

2015-03-27 10.58.31

Other farmers’ markets open now include: Billings Forge in Hartford, the Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Winter Market, New Haven’s CitySeed Winter Farmers’ Market, the Norfolk Winter Farmers’ Market, and the Storrs Winter Farmers’ Market.

2015-03-27 10.41.57