Kari Russo wants to double the size of the Village Green Farmers Market as it enters its third season at the end of May.
Russo is the new farmer’s market manager and intends to cast a wide net to recruit as many vendors as possible.
“Ideally I would like to double the size of what we had last year,” she said of the market that had 12 to 20 vendors on any given week. “I want that first market to be huge. I want that first market to draw a lot of people down.”
Russo has been a Pampered Chef consultant for more than a decade and has developed a passion about food. Taking over the market is “a natural extension” of her work.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to stem this than to work to provide local Fairfield families with local food,” she said. “We have a real focus on getting families to the table, and this is a natural extension of that of bringing our local farmers to our Fairfield families.”
City officials are enthusiastic for this year’s market, which saw hundreds of patrons at the final summer market in 2017 that featured activities and trick-or-treating for kids, said Fairfield spokeswoman Jenny Dexter.
“We’re just really excited to start the third year and have Kari’s different ideas in how to improve the space for the residents and vendors,” she said. “We hope people will come check out the new things Kari is planning to do this year.”
In addition to doubling the size of the market — she’s contacted around 30 vendors in her first couple of weeks on the job — her goal is to “have more options of things to provide to our residents,” build on the “good base” already developed and “improve upon what we were already doing right.”
“The general goal here is to make it a bigger market, improve the experience for our guests and our vendors,” Russo said. “If we don’t have the right mix of vendors, we’re not going to have the right guests and the residents aren’t going to see it as something of value. I want the residents to see it as something they can’t miss.”
The plans include bringing in vendors not already at the market, such as cheese, mushroom and kimchi, and expanding on the options, such as more produce vendors and additional meat vendors. She also wants to include a food demonstration and non-food programming for both kids and adults.
“We’re looking to use as many local resources as possible to make the market happen, and still taking applications for local producers and artisans, such as jewelry makers, artists, woodworkers and crafters,” Russo said. “We are a producers market. You have to bake it, make it or grow it.”
The final winter farmer’s market for this season is 5 to 7 p.m. on April 11 at the Fairfield Community Arts Center. The third annual summer Village Green Farmers Market begins 4-7 p.m. on May 30 in Village Green Park. The outdoor summer market runs until Oct. 17.