Even in the age of route planning apps and bossy little voices that chirp driving directions at us from our phones, it is still possible to get hopelessly, confoundingly, embarrassingly lost. I have recently been lost in a maze of sterile, semicircular streets in a housing development; on access roads beneath a jumble of highway ramps in a crowded city; and in a patchwork quilt of midwestern cornfields. I have also been lost 20 minutes from my house.
It was during that last incident that I first spotted White Gate Farm, located in East Lyme near Pattagansett Lake, on one of those bucolic stretches of road you’d never believe was just off Route 1. The small sign hung beside a white fence by a driveway bordered with old stone walls. That looks pretty, I thought idly. I don’t know what made me remember it later and look it up, but when I did, I discovered that a highly acclaimed little farmers’ market lived behind that fence, surrounded by chickens, lambs, and a thriving local business making the most of its pastoral setting. Once I knew where I’d been and what I’d passed by, I decided I had to go back.
When I turned into the driveway, I saw at first an explosion of wildflowers, stretching out before a greenhouse. But they were too perfect to be wild, too neatly planted, and I couldn’t resist strolling around them attempting to take their picture. The chickens and lambs lived beyond – presumably laying eggs and being adorable, respectively – but I continued past the flowers until I came to the small white building that housed the farm store. Inside, tables were piled with gorgeous produce – organic of course – all arranged as if it had been styled for a photoshoot. There were also enticing baked goods, prepared foods, and, in the adjoining room, on-brand gifts like cookbooks and tote bags.
When not in farm stand mode, White Gate Farm hosts events, like cooking classes, farm-to-table dinners, and retreats (there is a guest house on the property.) They also offer tours. But I was here for the market, where it seemed everyone knew everyone else, and the rare stranger was quickly noted and welcomed. I strolled past the displays of flawless blueberries and enormous carrots and miniature pies, admiring them as I had the lavender and sunflowers and hollyhocks outside.
I should note that if you go to White Gate Farm’s market expecting bargain produce, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re in one of those moods when self care equals organic scallions, or you just feel like slowing down for a while and taking in the beauty of Connecticut-grown produce in a thoughtfully crafted rustic-yet-sophisticated setting, then White Gate Farm provides the perfect little escape. And since you know you’re looking for it, you don’t even have to get lost to find it.
Hours: Days and times change seasonally; check website for current information.
Address: 83 Upper Pattagansett Rd, East Lyme, CT, 06333