Editor's note: This is part of a summer-long series on Vermont farmers markets around our region.
Farmers markets have been part of Vermont agricultural landscape since the early 19th century. The first, true Vermont farmers market is purported to have been established in Bennington during the 1780s, in the years immediately following the American Revolution. Talk about Vermonters' 'buy local' philsophy back then-in those days even the currency was made in Vermont. What would become the Green Mountain State was an independent republic with its own mint and a strong agricultural emphasis.
Despite a few lean years during the 1980s and 1990s, the steady growth of local markets since then has been a good sign.
In fact, a report released by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-Vt.) earlier this month shows that Vermont's farmers' markets provide a big boost to the state's agricultural economy during the summer months. Gross sales receipts totaled nearly $7 million statewide for 2009, according to the report.
At the Ludlow Farmers Market, a popular destination for many Windsor County and nearby Rutland County residents, consumers look for friendly, reliable vendors selling healthy local foods and quality craft items.
One facet of the Ludlow market is its locally baked goods-breads, made by Crows Corner Bakery and Cafe of Proctorsville, and pastries, made by Gloria's Pantry of Cuttingsville-they are the market scene stealers. Now a new bakery joins Crows and Gloria's to make the perfect Ludlow trifecta.
The new bakery addition to the outdoor market is talented baker Morgan Skiathitis' Vermont Croissant Bakery.
A native Vermonter, Skiathitis operates Vermont Croissant from her home in Belmont. She became enthusiastic about local farmers markets when she realized the venue was the perfect "first step" to launch a cottage business and in being able to bring homemade sweet treats to the local public.
After a few years learning the trade in specialty bakeries in Vermont and Massachusetts, Skiathitis created Vermont Croissant in her home kitchen.
"The Ludlow Farmers Market is an excellent venue for a newly budding business to start out with. It's just me and my hand-turned rock maple rolling pin," she said. "I don't have a sheeting machine, so the croissants are all made by hand."
According market publicity, on a recent afternoon Skiathitis displayed seven mouth-watering varieties of the extra large croissants, cookies-chocolate chip, oatmeal and ginger snap-galettes (aka old-fashioned hand pies) and strawberry fruit "crumble" bars. Some of Vermont Croissant's cookies reach monstrous proportions-"the size of your face," as Skiathitis puts it.
All ingredients used by Skiathitis are either locally produced or organic-or both. You can call Skiathitis for ingredient details at 802-259-2755.
Check It Out: Ludlow Farmers Market is open every Friday from 4-7 p.m. through Columbus Day weekend. The market is located on Route 103, south of Ludlow, at the Okemo Mountain School.