The Creative Living Community of Connecticut (CLCC) presented its 4th annual Farmstead Fair on the grounds of the Tolland County Agricultural Center on RT 20 in Vernon, CT recently. This organization’s goal is to create shared, inclusive living experience for individuals with and without developmental disabilities.
The organization, in its effort to provide real life work experience to a group of citizens who have disadvantages that are difficult to overcome in the everyday workplace, hit upon the idea of supplying microgreens to upscale local restaurants by using these underutilized workers as part of the labor force.
The dedicated individuals who foster and support this project have set some lofty goals for themselves that many of us would never stop to consider in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. By establishing a community of this type they will establish a cooperative approach to activities such as gardening, cooking, art, dance and various chores. It is the further hope of CLCC that each individual’s gifts will be incorporated into a calming routine that will be rewarding and beneficial to all.
The Farmstead Fair ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tours of the greenhouse set the tone for the day’s activities. Microgreens grown in the greenhouse, some on a year round basis, have what is probably the shortest growing season of any cash crop. Four to five weeks tops, some as little as two weeks. This makes for an extremely labor intensive program.
Microgreens are often thought of as sprouts or shoots but they are in fact an entirely individual crop of their own. Almost any seed can be grown as a microgreen but there are some tried and true varieties that are more sought out for their unique color, shape and flavor at the micro size.
Arugula, beets, swiss chard, Asian greens and specialty greens are commonly used. While touring the greenhouse, peas and sweet corn were observed growing. All of the cultural activities are done in accordance with organic practices.
The grounds and exhibit buildings were devoted to several local craftsmen who offered a variety of goods and services for the inspection and hopeful purchase of fairgoers strolling by. During the course of the year the organization sponsors several events designed to raise funds to support its activities. The one that probably tops the list was the Farm to Table Dinner held on July 11 at the Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT.
In addition to this and other gatherings, microgreens are offered for sale at two farmers markets in central CT, one in Coventry, CT and the other in South Windsor. Among the restaurants in the greater Hartford area featuring CLCC microgreens are Max Fish, Take Five Cookery, The Pond House, Francesca’s Italian Bistro, Firebox, Trattoria Da Lepri, Windham Golf Course, Vito’s by the Park and Carbone’s. A dedicated group of volunteers serve in a number of ways one of which is to deliver the produce to the restaurants on Tuesday mornings. Another is to pick up the workers in the morning and bring them to the greenhouse and return them home in the afternoon.
This unique micro farm fills need that might otherwise go unfilled. As the word gets out into the potential market the strong likelihood is that expansion will be on the horizon.