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May 2006


FEATURES

Local Flavor
by Susan H. Littlefield
photographs by Curtice Taylor

EACH SPRING, ELAINE DOUGLAS OPENS HER FARMER'S MARKET IN RESIDENTIAL NEW CANAAN, OFFERING SEEDLINGS AND PRODUCE THAT TOWN GARDENERS HAVE WAITED FOR ALL YEAR LONG

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Each year in mid-May, in front of an old farmhouse high above a busy street corner in New Canaan, an assortment of colorful umbrellas opens above a row of picnic tables laden with sturdy young plants. Aside from a small notice in the local paper, this is the town's signal that Elaine Douglas is open for business. She's a harbinger of spring to local gardeners, and by the time she gets her seedlings out that first morning, her driveway is lined with all kinds of people, from CEOs to laborers, eager to choose from her bounty of vegetables, flowers and herbs.

"It's a friendly neighborhood place," says Chip Dunn, a local who's been buying plants from Elaine for more than 20 years. "We always chat. She's known my family forever, and that beats going to a cashier at a garden center." Elaine is also an outstanding grower. Her spring plants are among the best money can buy. "Her tomatoes are way ahead—weeks ahead," Dunn says. "They almost all have flowers, and some even have little tomatoes already."

Her cottage industry has deep New Canaan roots, as well. It really began when her great, great aunt moved to Main Street in 1894.

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