Mid-Coast farmers market launches at Brunswick Landing

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BRUNSWICK — Food, fellowship and festivities were the focus recently as the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market relaunched at its new Brunswick Landing location.

Formerly held at the Topsham Fairgrounds, the 8-year-old market has moved to Turtle Rock Farm at 39 Burbank Ave., across from Wayfair. It will operate Fridays through next April, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The market features an array of offerings – the bustling kitchen and cafe; the heated greenhouse offering live music, vendors, and various demonstrations; or the outdoor wood-fired oven, particularly nice to gather around as winter fast approaches.

Turtle Rock Farm owner and chef Jenn Legnini, a longtime market vendor, was pleased last week to see the hubbub that opening day attracted. After the prior season ended, Legnini in June moved her business from 30 Bath Road (now the location of Black Pub Brewing) to the Brunswick Landing, and wondered if the market might relocate with her as well.

“We talked about how to be our best market, and this was a big opportunity,” she said. “… The Fairgrounds is an amazing location, but we would find that come January, February and March it just sort of fell off people’s radar.”

But the former Brunswick Naval Air Station site “is very accessible during the winter time; it’s all plowed and there are lots of spaces,” Legnini said.

The cafe operates out of what used to be a Navy car wash building.

“Everything we do is local,” she noted of offerings from the market’s 15 vendors, which include fresh produce, turkey, coffee, seafood, herbs and spices, breads, jams and jellies, beef and pork, and eggs and dairy.

“We’re the only farmers market in Maine that has a cafe, ready-to-eat food,” Legnini said.

Glancing around the greenhouse, buzzing with vendors and patrons alike, she turned to an Italian couple who moved here from Milan a year ago. Thanks to them, “we’ve got amazing Italian pastries and dry pastas,” Legnini smiled.

“This is such an incredible group of vendors,” she mused. “We built this greenhouse together. During the growing season, we all have our own greenhouses and our own farm businesses; we just come together to do these things. … It’s a really collaborative community effort.”

More information can be found at facebook.com/MidcoastWinterFarmers.

Growing up a farm in Pennsylvania, Legnini started working in restaurants at age 14. She later attended culinary school and worked with a nonprofit organization focused on sustainable ranching, founding Tuttle Rock Farm five years ago.

“We’re organic vegetables and fruit,” she said. “Primarily, we grow what we process.”

Although the Mid-Coast market isn’t affiliated with farmers markets in Bath and Brunswick, its vendors often sell their wares at those other locations.

With most summer markets running from May through October, “we hope that (customers) don’t miss a beat to be able to access this food, to access these vendors,” Legnini said.

The market won’t be open the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, but will instead offer turkeys the day before the holiday – Wednesday, Nov. 21.

“Everybody can come and get their full Thanksgiving menu,” Legnini said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Jenn Legnini shows off the new greenhouse that is part of her Turtle Rock Farm operation. The Brunswick Landing business hosts vendors from the Midcoast Winter Farmer’s Market each Friday.

Jenn Legnini, at right, is owner of Turtle Rock Farm, which operates a cafe every Friday from November through April as part of the Midcoast Winter Farmer’s Market. Courtney Sonia, at left, is part of the crew, and Robin Kerver, center, is kitchen manager.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.