PROVIDENCE - From South County to Aquidneck Island to the northwest corner of the state, Rhode Islanders now have six winter farmers' markets available where they can purchase a wide variety of locally-grown and produced products. The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Agriculture and the USDA/Rural Development Council are helping to sponsor the indoor farmers' markets through the "Get Fresh. Buy Local." statewide campaign aimed at promoting awareness of and interest in buying RI-grown specialty crops.
"Take some time this weekend to visit one of our six winter farmers' markets as you prepare for your Thanksgiving meal. There's nothing better than a fresh, Rhode Island-grown turkey, and potatoes, carrots, apples, cider and winter squash to compliment your Thanksgiving menu. They are all available - straight from the farm - at the winter markets," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Buying fresh, locally-sourced meats, seafood, vegetables and dairy products at the winter farmers' markets helps Rhode Islanders enjoy delicious, healthy foods and supports our local farmers."
The South Kingstown Indoor Winter Farmers' Market in the Peace Dale Mill Complex at 1425 Kingstown Road (Route 108) in Peace Dale is open on Saturdays through April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Now in its fourth year, this market is an outgrowth of the South Kingstown farmers' market that operates at URI's East Farm and at Marina Park from May through October. This indoor winter market features a cornucopia of locally grown and produced products, including seasonal vegetables and fruits, cornmeal, breads, harvest decorations, eggs, honey, candles, jams, RI wool blankets and yarns, artisan soaps, RI raised beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, oysters, fish, seafood, baked goods, and dog biscuits. For more information about the South Kingstown Indoor Winter Farmers Market, visit its website at www.southkingstownfarmersmarket.org.
The Coastal Growers' Winter Market in North Kingstown at Lafayette Mill on Route 102, just west of Wickford in North Kingstown, is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. through April 27. Throughout the summer and fall, the Coastal Growers' Market operates on Saturdays at Casey Farm in Saunderstown. Shoppers are able to purchase a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, cheeses, naturally raised meats, breads and baked goods, fresh eggs, preserves, honey, chocolate, local seafood and fish, ice creams, kettle corn, flowers, wreaths, soaps, coffee, and handmade pizza for lunch. For additional information about the Coastal Growers' Winter Market, visit its website at www.coastalmarket.org.
The Mount Hope Winter Farmers' Market at Mount Hope Farm in Bristol is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among the many products that are available at this market are locally-raised meat, fish, vegetables, eggs, Alpaca felted items, freshly-baked breads, pies, cakes, coffee, honey, herbs, granola, and knit items. The Mount Hope winter market is located at 250 Metacom Avenue in Bristol, and will be open through May 18. For more information, visit www.mounthopefarm.org.
The Farm Fresh RI Wintertime Farmers' Market at Hope Artiste Village at 1005 Main Street in Pawtucket is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May 11. From now through January 30, the market will also be open on Wednesdays (except for Dec. 26) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Now in its sixth year, the market specializes in fresh, locally-grown and produced food including fruits, vegetables, baked goods, eggs, meats, fish, shellfish, artisan chocolate, granola, coffee, jams, jellies, and prepared lunch items from numerous local farms and food producers. For more information about the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers' Market, contact Sarah Lester at 312-4250 or www.farmfreshri.org.
In Glocester, the Northwest Winter Farmers' Market is open Sundays through May 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Located adjacent to Petersen Farm in Sticks Tavern Banquet Room at 451 Putnam Pike, the market features locally-grown fruit and vegetables, honey, goat cheese, eggs, cider, chocolate, baked goods, soap, wreaths, crafts and dog treats. For more information about the Northwest Farmers' Market, visit www.northwestfarmersmarket.org.
The Aquidneck Growers' Market located in the parish hall of St. Mary's Church in Portsmouth is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through May 11. Among the many local items available at this market are fruits, vegetables, pasture-raised meats and eggs, fresh seafood, breads, pastries, and a fine selection of freshly ground coffees. Live music, local artisans and hot lunch items from local chefs are available each week at the market, which is located at 324 East Main Road. For additional information, contact www.aquidneckgrowersmarket.com.
The state's $170 million agriculture industry benefits Rhode Island's economy and quality of life, and provides access to local foods and horticultural products. Rhode Island has 1,219 farms, mostly family run, which occupy 61,000 acres. 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 the state first in the US for percentage of direct market sales.