DOAG: Governor Malloy Advances Work at Hartford Regional Market

 
This article appeared in the May 1, 2013 edition of the Ag Report
 
 

Governor Malloy Advances Work at Hartford Regional Market

Steven K. Reviczky, Commissioner

 

 

Governor Dannel P. Malloy returned to the Hartford Regional Market (HRM) on April 17, 2013, to announce that the State Bond Commission will fund long-overdue repairs at the market.  He said this commitment of monies is a sign Connecticut is willing to invest in agriculture to expand and create jobs.

 

The Bond Commission unanimously approved a bond allocation of $400,000 at its April 26, 2013, meeting.  The Department of Construction Services (DCS) also has committed $200,000 to the project and anticipates the need to commit additional resources if the contractor, Silktown Roofing of Manchester, finds isolated structural damage during construction.

 

The roof project will place a rubber overlay covering more than 170,500 square feet on two buildings at the 101 Reserve Road facility.  The largest fresh produce market between New York and Boston, the HRM aggregates, processes, and distributes food from Connecticut, national, and international producers.  Leaking roofs have jeopardized food safety and the employment of some of the more than 400 individuals who work there. 

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) and Connecticut Marketing Authority (CMA), which oversees the HRM, are relying DCS to facilitate and manage this critical assignment.  DCS has already completed months of emergency roof repairs, conducted emergency evaluations, expedited the competitive bid process, and committed resources to this project. 

 

The personal involvement of DCS Deputy Commissioner Pasquale “Bud” Salemi and the work of his team are much appreciated and have made a measurable and meaningful difference as DoAg and CMA have dealt with far-reaching implications of a seriously leaking roof and rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.

 

The installation of the membrane and associated roof deck repairs are intended to be a short-term fix while DoAg, CMA, and DCS work with Market Ventures, LLC, to develop a long-range master plan for the regional market.

 

The plan will analyze current infrastructure, assess needs of present and potential tenants, and examine possible income and expenses of new facilities.  It will include a new vision for wholesale aggregation, processing, and distribution, along with considerations for an enhanced public market.

 

The report is expected within 12 months of contract execution. 

 

ADDITIONAL STATE INVESTMENTS IN AGRICULTURE

During the same press conference, Governor Malloy also announced the investment of more than $800,000 in competitive, matching grants through DoAg’s Farm Transition Grant and Farm Viability Grant programs to expand Connecticut’s $3.5 billion agricultural industry.

 

“Connecticut’s agricultural sector has enormous untapped potential,” Governor Malloy said in a news release.  “The investments we are announcing today in small farms and our Regional Market are a clear sign that we can both preserve our agricultural heritage and help it expand and create jobs.”

 

Earlier that morning, Governor Malloy visited Mountaintop Mushrooms in Waterbury, which received $35,000 in matching funds for the expansion of its indoor growing facility. 

 

Owner Gregg Wershoven gave Governor Malloy a tour of the farm’s various units, including the space and equipment to pasteurize and prepare the growing media, new laboratory, inoculation room, and different growing areas, with Governor Malloy interestedly asking questions about each facet of the operation. 

 

Gregg explained that his business plan includes the creation of some 35 new jobs in the next year, and expressed his deep appreciation for the support and assistance from Governor Malloy and DoAg that is helping to make his vision a reality.

 

THE HARTFORD REGIONAL MARKET FARMERS’ MARKET

To some, it’s a tradition.  To others, a mystery.

 

The farmers’ market that operates daily on the grounds of the Hartford Regional Market (HRM) presents a unique opportunity for commerce.  This market has been a tradition for many farmers and consumers for generations.

 

The HRM farmers’ market is best known for its springtime offerings:  acres of flowering baskets, annual and perennial plants, and landscape trees and shrubs.  As the season progresses, this one-of-a-kind, state-operated farmers’ market offers a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and other food and farm products.

 

As the only wholesale farmers’ market in Connecticut, the HRM farmers’ market functions differently from other farmers’ markets in the state.  Its core hours are 5:00 to 9:00 a.m., allowing small retailers, farm stand operators, and chefs to access agricultural products at a time and in a manner that facilitates their respective business operations.

 

The HRM farmers’ market is also open to the general public.  Home consumers turn out in greatest abundance on weekend mornings to take advantage of the market’s signature variety and values.  In addition, consumers also may access a diversity of offerings from the multitude of wholesale business tenants that lease space and operate at the HRM—including Northeast Produce, Capitol Sausage, M+M Produce, Bogner Meats, the Farmer’s Cow, and many others—while visiting the HRM complex. 

 

The HRM farmers’ market presents opportunities for Connecticut farmers available nowhere else in the state.  With 144 vendor stalls, many under a pavilion, there is room for more farmers than at any other Connecticut market. 

 

Also unique are the hours of operation.  The farmers’ market is open seven days a week, year round, offering outstanding potential to connect with an enormous and diverse customer base.  However, vendors are not required to be present during all hours of operation, and may select the days they attend based on what makes sense for each individual business. 

 

Stalls may be rented for a 4- or 12-month period.  Complete vendor rules and application information are available on DoAg’s website.

 

The CMA has identified the public market component of the HRM as a priority.  In the coming months, DoAg and CMA will focus on growing public awareness and farmer participation in the short term—while examining the farmers’ market’s integration and prominence in the HRM’s overall, redevelopment for the long term—as they work to revitalize this extraordinary state-owned food hub located in the heart of Connecticut at the intersection of Interstates 84 and 91.

 

The HRM offers exciting possibilities and great promise for Connecticut producers, agricultural businesses, and consumers.  We are eager to realize and unlock its untapped potential.