Tomatoes, Corn, Summer Squash, Peaches, Blueberries and Early McIntosh Apples among Locally-Grown Items Currently Featured at Farmers' Markets
PROVIDENCE - An abundance of locally-grown produce, meats and seafood is now available for purchase at farmers' markets and roadside stands throughout the state. From now through late October, farmers' markets in state parks and facilities managed by the Department of Environmental Management will offer consumers a wide assortment of freshly-grown fruits and vegetables, meats and seafood. Among produce items currently in peak supply are tomatoes, corn, summer squash, peppers, eggplant, peaches and blueberries. The first apples of the season – early macs – are also now available at farmers' markets and roadside stands, in addition to traditional offerings of Rhode Island meats and seafood, baked goods, bedding plants, hanging plants, cut flowers, honey and maple syrup.
The farmers' markets in DEM-operated state parks and other public facilities are as follows:
• Fishermen's Memorial State Park Farmers' Market in Narragansett, Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Johnston Farmers' Market at Memorial Park on Route 6 (Hartford Avenue), Mondays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. • Haines Memorial State Park Farmers' Market on Route 103 on the East Providence/Barrington line, Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. • Capitol Hill Farmers' Market in Providence, Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Goddard Memorial State Park Farmers' Market in Warwick, Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. • State Pier Nine Farmers' Market in Newport, Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. • Colt State Park Farmers' Market in Bristol, Fridays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
"Farmers' markets are great places to get delicious and freshly-harvested local foods direct from the farm to your kitchen table. There's nothing better than Rhode Island-grown tomatoes, corn, summer squash, lettuce and blueberries to round out a summertime meal of locally-harvested meat, seafood or lobster," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "And when in Newport, be sure to stop at the Pier Nine Farmers' Market and the lobster shack run by Pier Nine Fishermen for some of the freshest, most succulent lobsters and fish available."
The Pier Nine Farmers' Market, a collaborative effort with the Pier Nine Fishermen, is the newest farmers' market on state property and is situated in a beautiful location at the edge of Newport Harbor. The market will be open every Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. through October. In addition to the availability of native vegetables and fruits, baked goods, fresh lobsters, and kettle corn, the Pier Nine farmers' market is also the pick-up site for a community supported fishery program operated by Ocean State Fresh (www.oceanstatefresh.com). Senior Farmers' Market Coupons and SNAP coupons can be redeemed at the market. Shoppers can validate their parking tickets inside the Newport Visitors Center, 23 America's Cup Avenue, for a free half-hour of parking at the Center.
Growing consumer interest in products grown locally and the entrepreneurial skills of the state's farmers is boosting agriculture in Rhode Island. Rhode Island has 1,219 farms, mostly family run, which occupy 61,000 acres. The number of farmers' markets is growing rapidly, and consumers are flocking to farm stands, pick your own operations, and community supported agriculture farms. The state has close to 60 seasonal farmers markets in urban, suburban and rural areas, seven indoor winter markets, and numerous pick-your-own farm stand operations. The increased presence of farmers' markets helps bring local farm products to new communities to the benefit of both urban and rural customers. In addition, greater access to healthy, local food is improving the nutritional health of RI residents.
According to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, Rhode Island was ranked number three in the country for direct marketing sales of fruits and vegetables from farms to consumers, on a per farm basis. Rhode Island also had $6.3 million worth of agriculture sales sold directly to the public, equal to 9.5 percent of all agriculture market sales, which ranked Rhode Island first in the US for percentage of direct market sales. The Economic Impact Study conducted by URI last year significantly determined that many economic values surpassed USDA figures.
DEM Farmers' Markets accept farmers' market checks from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) administered by the Department of Health. The successful Senior Farmers' Nutrition Program administered by DEM is also being offered this year, with coupons available at senior centers throughout the state. To qualify for the program, persons 60 or older make a simple self-declaration of income based on household size. DEM coordinates the program in conjunction with the RI Department of Elderly Affairs.
DEM's Division of Agriculture and Resource Marketing, which helps farmers with marketing information, offers a free brochure that lists the locations of all farmers' markets and roadside stands, along with addresses, hours, days and months of operation, and telephone numbers. The brochure is available on the Agriculture website at www.rigrown.ri.gov, by clicking on "Agriculture in Rhode Island" on the left side of the homepage, then "For Consumers," then "Farmers' Markets." A listing of farmers' markets and roadside stands and a harvest chart are also available on the Agriculture website and on Farm Fresh Rhode Island's website at www.farmfreshri.org.