What is the farmers co-op that opened in the old bike shop?
Ah yes, the old bicycle shop near the fire department has been transformed into the Farmers Market Co-op, bringing farmers, crafters, and other creative vendors under one roof, but with a twist.
Sandy Sutila is the twist. A former Wall Streeter (Merrill Lynch), Sutila and her family are in the restaurant business—including the Lumberyard in Georgetown—and know co-ops from growing up in the Midwest. “It’s how I got through college,” says Sutila.
But the state of Connecticut is not so co-op friendly. It took her two years of bureaucratic wrangling to set up what is now only the second co-op in the state. “It would take me three days in Vermont,” Sutila says.
Here is how it works. Farmers and vendors set up shop at her 22 Catoonah Street location, vacant since the Ridgefield Bicycle Co. moved to larger digs on Danbury Road. “We currently have 19 farms on the lower level and 27 vendors upstairs,” referring to places such as It’s All Good granola, Alev olive oil, and Conant Valley jams. But Sutila sells the goods—the farmers can stick to farming and the jammers, ahh, jamming. Among the participating farms are The Hickories, Horseshoe Farm, and Sunny Meadow from Bridgewater.
Members support the entire endeavor. She seeks 300 members to pay $10 per month. Membership provides discounts, first access to new goods, members-only events (jam-making classes), food tastings, and more. “Know your farmer, know your food,” says Sutila. That is her motto.