SHELTON, Conn. (WTNH) — New laws directed at Farmer’s Markets throughout Connecticut will go into effect October 1. State officials said they aren’t meant to punish people, but to ensure that produce labeled “locally-grown,” is in fact grown in Connecticut.
Olympia Melchionno, of Monroe, was in search of some fresh cheese peppers and she ended up in the right place.
“I can stuff it. I can make a fried pepper. I can put it in vinegar,” Melchinno said of her plans with the cheese peppers she found.
Olympia and her husband Bartolomeo, are regular customers at Shelton’s Stone Gardens Farm, where they always know the food is locally grown.
“All the time, I like fresh produce,” Melchionno said. “The best way you can buy.”
The owners of Stone Gardens take pride in providing locally-grown produce for Connecticut. They were the catalyst in getting a tougher law passed, aimed at those who deceived customers by labeling their food as Connecticut grown, when in fact, it was not.
“When we would go to market in June, guys would have sweet corn, tomatoes, onions, eggplants (that were huge),” Monahan said. “Where’s this stuff coming from?”
Monahan said it was coming from out-of-state wholesalers. He said people would buy in bulk, drive to a famer’s market and peddle their produce under the logo “locally-grown”.
“(We) are spending money on seed, fertilizer, labor, costs for production and these other guys who were peeling stickers off and saying they were growing it,” Monahan said.
The Monahan’s cried foul to their State Senator Kevin Kelly, and their cries were heard. Starting in October, clear signage must be placed next to any items at a Connecticut farmer’s market indicating exactly where it was produced. Those who don’t comply face a $100 fine.
“If you see something you don’t like, stand up, get involved,” said Stacia Monahan.
Then Monahan’s said they welcome competition and often speak with other local farmers to share ideas. But they said they want to make sure the competition is fair.