Farms and Food

September 26, 2011

As many of you know, Connecticut is home to a host of wonderful farms, more than 100 in fact. These farms produce dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, honey and more. But most importantly, it is our local farms that provide the good food that supports our residents.

One of the best ways to experience these great foods and products is by visiting one of Connecticut’s farmers’ markets. They can be found in most every town any day of the week. For a complete listing of Connecticut farms and farmers’ markets, go online to the state Department of Agriculture’s website at

Not only are farmers’ markets a perfect way for folks to experience local, home-grow products, but they are also a venue for farmers to promote sales and build their small businesses. And in an effort to do just that, the 2011 General Assembly passed two new state laws.

The first law, now Public Act 11-194, supports our local wineries. The act creates a farmers’ market wine sales permit that allows farm wineries to sell the wine have they made on their own premises or at other locations, like a farmers’ market. Farm wineries can now sell wine at up to three farmers’ market locations a year for an unlimited number of dates. Wine can only be sold in a bottle, and wine sales are permitted from 8: 00 a.m. to 9: 00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, but not on Sunday or when the farmers’ market is not open to the public. However, under this new act, a municipality does have the authority to oppose the sale of wine or may reduce the allowable wine selling hours through an ordinance or town meeting vote.

The second law passed supports the farmers who sell prepared products at various Department of Agriculture-certified farmers’ markets. We have so many farmers who use their produce to make jams and baked goods, or who use their dairy to make ice cream to sell at market. Under previous state law, farmers who did so were obligated to purchase individual food service permits in each of the health districts or towns where food and prepared goods are sold. However, under new state law, Public Act 11-191, farmers are now only required to purchase one permit each year. This act makes a farmer’s permit or license to operate a food service establishment at a Department of Agriculture-certified farmers’ market portable from health district to health district. All the farmer must do is simply notify a local health department or district in advance of participating in a market. This law is a huge cost savings measure for Connecticut farmers and will hopefully incentivize further sales.

It is laws such as these that will go a long way towards growing one of our state’s best assets – our farms. By supporting them we can work to expand sales so that Connecticut residents can experience even more of our state’s home grown goods, while also ensuring our farms will remain open for generations to come.

Along with stopping by the many farmers’ markets, I also encourage you and your families to visit the many farms throughout our district and throughout the state that produce the goods we purchase at markets. This is a perfect time of year for hayrides, pumpkin and apple picking, and fresh cider!