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It's All in the Family at the Farmers Market

Two Newtown families share their love of baking at the Sandy Hook Organic Farmers Market

More than a dozen tents sheltered their goods from the drizzling rain one recent afternoon at the Sandy Hook Organic Farmers Market.

Among the farmers and their stands filled with ripe red tomatoes and freshly picked corn, two Newtown families stood sharing their love of baking with the hungry shoppers.

"It's something I always thought about doing," said Catherine Summ, a newcomer to the farmers market who combined her Scandinavian heritage and love of baking to form Sugar Street Bakery this year.

"Our most popular are the Lingonberry Squares," she said, describing lingonberries as similar in flavor to cranberries. Also a favorite are the Tosca Bars, which have a shortbread base, a layer of raspberry jam and an almond topping that is finished with a drizzle of chocolate.

Summ spent childhood summers with her mother's family in Finland, and eventually met her husband while attending a cousin's wedding there. The couple spent several years living in Sweden before settling back in Connecticut to raise their two sons, Henry and Felix.

Although both sons help prepare and sell their Scandinavian baked goods, Henry, 14, is intrigued with the science, Summ said.

"Baking reminds him of science – it's like a science experiment every time we bake,"  she said.

During the school year, Summ works with visually impaired students as an education consultant for the state's Board of Education and Services for the Blind. With her summers free, Summ decided to pursue baking.

"I went into this as a learning experience, and I have learned so much," she said. "When you're at the market, you get a chance to talk to people – neighbors, strangers and people in town."

Coming to the market and seeing firsthand what people like is one of the best parts of participating in farmers markets, according to Andy Corson. He and his brother Justin are in their second year of operating BakeLocal.com.

"Customer feedback is one of the most important reasons for getting out in front of people at the markets," he said.

The brothers use the kitchen at St. John's church in Sandy Hook to create a variety of whole grain breads, cookies, scones and muffins.

"Probably our best sellers are our cranberry orange scones and muffins," said Corson. "People really like that we use locally sourced wheat in our products."

Corson began BakeLocal.com in 2008 after losing his job.

"I had some time on my hands, and I put that to good use going to town agencies and putting together a marketing plan for the bakery," said Corson.

After founding the basics of the company the first year, Corson started buying local and mostly organic wheat and fruit for his business this year. Next year, he hopes to add local butter and eggs.

"About 75 percent of the flour we buy is organic," said Corson. "But if I have a chance to buy wheat from a local farmer, I'm going to do it."

He said even if the product isn't certified organic, buying local supports the farmers and local businesses.

Although the brothers travel to other markets in Westport and Kent, Newtown has responded well to the products.

"We do better at Newtown than Westport, which is surprising," said Corson.

Although now employed full time at the Taunton Press, Corson said he and his brother put in more than 60 hours a week making and selling their breads and goods.

But the long hours don't seem to bother him.

"I still get excited to go into the kitchen at the end of an eight-hour workday," he said.

The Sandy Hook Organic Farmers' Market offers an abundance of fresh produce from a variety of regional farms; freshly baked breads, pies and cookies; natural soaps and candles; and a variety of other local goods.

The market is located on the Fairfield Hills campus off of Wasserman Way, across the street from Reed Intermediate School. The market is open every Tuesday from 2pm to 6pm until mid-October.

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