Many of you may have visited Maryellen Burson’s produce stand in Somers, Connecticut this summer for your fresh fruit, vegetables, local honey and cut flower bouquets. Although the availability of fresh, local produce is winding down, there is another reason to visit Mary’s Market in the coming months. Burson has turned her greenhouse into a show place for her own and other crafters’ handmade items, just in time for seasonal décor and gift buying.
Burson opened her farm stand three years ago, and she stocks it with produce primarily from B & B Produce, as well as several other local farms. B & B Produce, also in Somers, is owned by her former husband, Gordon, and her younger son, Colin. She has another son, Gordie, and she is very proud of both of them, and appreciates their support. She also credits her former husband with encouraging her to open her market, telling her that “she would be good at it.”
In addition to the fruits and vegetables she has at her stand, Burson grows a variety of herbs including basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, and cilantro, which she incorporates into the decorative planters she arranges with flowering annuals throughout the season. One of the reasons her stand is so attractive, besides the colorful produce and pretty rainbow chard arranged in a glass vase, is the beautiful assortment of fresh cut flowers on display. These colorful blooms are from nearby Keep ‘N Thyme (129 Piney Road) owned by Willow Lake and Davida Keystanowicz. The sisters grow the flowers at their properties in Somers and Enfield, and Mary’s Market is one of their wholesale customers.
Burson is busy during the summer and early fall with the running of her stand, of course. Loading and unloading her truck, setting up the stand, watering and maintaining the plants, and serving customers is more than a full time job. She is assisted by her friend and helper, Rosa Mercieri, with whom she shares some good laughs throughout the day. Mercieri is also the crafts person behind the wood burned signs on display in the newly repurposed greenhouse area. When she is not available to work, Burson’s friend Terry Villamaino occasionally lends a hand.
During the off-season, Burson “does a lot of sewing work, and makes floral arrangements for weddings and larger gatherings (but of course, not a lot of that this year.) I make mittens, scarves and blankets out of recycled wool… mostly wool sweaters that I wash and dry and cut apart to make into new items.”
When asked where she gets the used wool that she recycles into the new items she sells, such as blankets, scarves, mittens and handbags, Burson answered that she shops at tag sales and thrift stores. She also gets items donated by friends and others as word has spread about her endeavor.
For her new craft-oriented use of the greenhouse, she says, “I will have my products for sale along with an artist that does mosaic mirrors and picture frames, and birdhouses, a jewelry designer, a sign painter, and a woman that makes things out of the wool from the alpaca that she raises. I am hoping to get many more creative people to display their artwork in the greenhouse space. I’m hoping it will be a good alternative to the arts and craft fairs that were cancelled this year.”
Burson has recruited other artists and crafts people to stock her greenhouse with an array of handmade products. So far, her market offers log birdhouses by Joe Daponte; water feature sculptures by Chris Sand; wooden floral arrangements by Daisy Designs; stained glass, mosaics, and fairy glass globes by Debbie St. Germain; propane tank pumpkins by Brian Soriano; wood burned signs by Rosa Mercieri; hand cut and painted holiday wood items by Helen Falkowski; and hand painted holiday signs, glassware, and other holiday items by Carolyn Sowa. As the holidays approach, Burson will be making fresh and silk flower centerpieces, holiday wreaths, and cemetery boxes.
When asked what her favorite part of the business is, Burson answered, “the people who come here. I’ve met so many great people, with such a wide variety of backgrounds. Most of the customers have been so nice, and respectful of the COVID regulations. We complain about the weather together, talk about recipes, and whether we’re having a good or a bad day.”
Having her own business is a dream Burson has had since she was in her 20’s. After many years of life’s ups and downs, she is thrilled to have realized her dream. She says, “I may not make a lot of money doing this, but I think I’ve made a lot of friends.”
The Market will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm through December. Contact email@example.com for an update on hours of operation or other questions.
Mary’s Market is located at 103 Main Street in Somers, CT