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    Stew Leonard's Stages Own Farmers' Market Events

    NORWALK, Conn. -- Stew Leonard's here is offering "It's All Native" farmers' market events at all three of its stores this month. Growers from family farms in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey will be present at the events to answer questions on how to choose and prepare locally grown food.

    NORWALK, Conn. -- Stew Leonard's here is offering "It's All Native" farmers' market events at all three of its stores this month. Growers from family farms in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey will be present at the events to answer questions on how to choose and prepare locally grown food.

    "People may think they have to go to a farmers' market to get locally grown produce and support small family farms," said president and c.e.o. Stew Leonard Jr. "We've been doing business with local growers from the very beginning, and we thought it would be fun for customers to meet some of the local farmers whose produce we sell at the store.

    "By buying produce direct from local farms, we're able to offer customers just-picked fruits and vegetables delivered to the stores the same day they are harvested, at a great price, since there is no middleman," Leonard said. "The farmer benefits as well as the customer."

    As well as supporting small family farms, locally grown produce reduces the packaging and fuel needed for shipping, the retailer said. This has the additional benefit of fewer pesticides needed during the growing process, as extended storage and long-distance shipping are unnecessary, it noted.

    Stew Leonard's said the events also feature activities for the whole family, such as free samples, chef demonstrations of recipes featuring locally grown produce, face painting and free balloons for kids, and refreshments.

    "The farmers participating in these events welcome the opportunity to answer any customer questions, such as tips on selecting the best produce, new varieties they are growing, and favorite ways to cook and serve their produce," said Scott Varanko, manager of Stew Leonard's Norwalk produce department.

    Stew Leonard's operates three stores in Norwalk and Danbury, Conn. and Yonkers, N.Y., with a fourth store slated to open in early 2007 in Newington, Conn.

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