Litchfield County: Happening in the Hills
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Good Things Growing in Litchfield

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By Clementina Verge

Nestled in the heart of New Preston—at the southern tip of majestic Lake Waramaug—stand a café and market offering a true farm-to-table experience. The Smithys—as they are affectionately called—reflect Steve Shabet’s vision of nourishing the community while showcasing its farmers, artisans, and culinary professionals.

The delicious cycle begins at Sunny Meadow Farm in Bridgewater, which consists of two farms that Shabet rescued from development. The one on Northrop Street has been continuously cultivated since the early 1700s and contains a farm stand that is a welcome source of healthy food for the community. Its mission is to continue the town’s agricultural heritage. Today, the harvest yields maple syrup, fruits, vegetables (some 50 varieties), honey, and hay, while free-range poultry and eggs are raised using sustainable organic methods.

The growing farm operation required distribution beyond a farm stand, Shabet explains. Purchasing The Smithy Market in 2018—the name, an ode to New Preston’s historic blacksmith shop on whose foundation the store stands—created an opportunity to distribute locally-produced items to the Lake Waramaug community.

Atypical of a large, impersonal grocery store, the market resembles a cozy mountain retreat and places utmost importance on quality and nutrition. The mottos  “Eat well – Live well” and “Local Farms = Local Food” are materialized by the aroma of freshly baked bread mingling with vibrant leafy greens, and refrigerators brimming with select meats, artisanal cheeses, and fresh dairy.

More than two dozen local farms and vendors supply everything from edible flowers and delectable ice cream, to fine chocolates, roasted coffee, cooking oils, and specialty sauces. Anything that customers demand that cannot be produced locally, like lemons, limes, and avocados, are sourced from speciality vendors, with a focus on quality.

Since July 2020, the goodness extends across the street, where Shabet purchased The Smithy Café at 9 Main—a community cornerstone lively with activity. The innovative menu reflects sustainable ingredients while a talented group of local chefs and bakers prepare comforting soups, hearty sandwiches, refreshing salads, and scrumptious desserts, including gluten-free and vegan pastries, as well as special locally roasted and blended coffee.

Overlooking the cascading Aspetuck Falls, the café starts serving breakfast at 7am and continues to bustle throughout the day as neighbors meet for coffee, friends gather for lunch (at this time, outdoors only), or visitors learn about local history. A large deck is being planned under the canopy of 200-year-old maple trees, accommodating even more camaraderie.

Exciting plans are also pending across the street where the market’s second floor art gallery will morph into a gift shop, exhibiting the work of local artists, woodworkers, potters, as well as offering select kitchen goods.

“We have created a synergy of farms, chefs, and suppliers,” Shabet explains, proudly hanging historical photographs on the cafe walls. “We have vertically integrated a true farm-to-table ecosystem that sustains our bodies while also preserving the heritage of the community.”

The Smithy Market & Cafe at 9 Main
9 Main St
New Preston
The Smithy Market: 860-868-9003
The Smithy Cafe: 860-619-0699

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