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Nelson Cecarelli

Food for Thought:

Reflections from farmer Nelson Cecarelli

A farmers market wouldn’t be much of a market without its farmers. One of Wholesome Wave’s star partners, Nelson Cecarelli, owner of Cecarelli Farms, is a third-generation farmer from Northford, Connecticut. He has been instrumental in making locally grown, fresh, healthy food available to underserved communities in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In collaboration with Wholesome Wave, Nelson supplies two farm stands at the Bridgeport Department of Social Services and St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

To demonstrate the success of the Wholesome Wave Double Value Coupon Program, we wanted to share with you some of Nelson’s thoughts about his involvement with Wholesome Wave. Nelson wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of selling his produce directly to individual consumers, but he quickly changed his mind.

“The first year we worked with Wholesome Wave, [they] ran the farm stands and we sold our product to [them.] The following year,] Cristina Sandolo from Wholesome Wave called me and asked if I had any interest in running[both] farm stands in Bridgeport. I thought about it – it was far from my farm – but Wholesome Wave does such a great job with outreach … I decided that running the… farm stands was something I wanted to do.

”I feel like our produce is going to an area that really needs us. It is a win-win for us. The [farm stands] in Bridgeport have gotten better and better. Not only are they benefiting farmers because we get to sell direct, they are also benefiting the community because in Bridgeport there is not the same availability of fresh produce as elsewhere.”

“There have been some challenges in my work [in] Bridgeport. First, and a small challenge, is that it is far. It is 32 miles each way. The larger challenge has been figuring out what to bring. The markets are busy and we bring a lot of produce but we sell out. Cecarelli Farms is a wholesale farm. Before selling at the East Main Street and St. Vincent’s farm stands, we had never done farmers markets.”

“When I began working with Wholesome Wave in Bridgeport and running the farm stands, my life really changed. It opened avenues for direct marketing rather than wholesale distribution of my produce. It also allowed us the opportunity to have face-to-face contact with clients, which couldn’t happen when selling wholesale. It is incredibly rewarding to deal with people who really appreciate the produce we sell – it is a goodwill feeling. And I really mean that. I really almost turned down the opportunity, but I am so glad I didn’t. The markets and my relationship with Wholesome Wave have really continued to grow year after year.”

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