The Providence farmers’ market has moved inside, kicking off its fourth winter in a renovated mill building…and not a moment too soon. The last outdoor market went out with quite a bang on a snowy October day.
I remember when the Providence summer market was a handful of farmers set up along the driveway in front of Hope High School, offering fresh produce, meat and Marcia’s Chutneys. It started to spill out onto the street as more vendors, including Seven Stars Bakery, Narragansett Creamery and New Harvest Coffee joined. Finally it outgrew the high school and moved further north to Lippitt Park.
The winter market truly changed our lives, giving us a chance to buy local food all year long. And, as with the summer market, it has expanded each year. We can now buy locally grown greens on the coldest winter day—along with a variety of storage vegetables, meat, seafood, pasta…even homemade dog treats. Most of our food comes from this market (or what we have grown ourselves and put away), dramatically decreasing the distance our food travels. We did make some changes in order to reduce our carbon footprint—no cucumbers flown in from Israel, and other out-of-season produce from far-away countries. (Admittedly, we are not purists…we still occasionally buy citrus, avocados and bananas.) However, what we lost in endless variety we gained in flavor—locally grown food simply tastes much better. And our farmers have been experimenting with what they grow; as a result we have tried many new and delicious things in the winter months. Last year’s big discoveries were kohlrabi and celeriac.
A few winter markets are now scattered throughout RI, including a new one opening soon in Bristol. Making local food more accessible to more people is important. The community enjoys better tasting, healthier food produced by their neighbors, creating a livelihood for those farmers, and supporting their local economy. A symbiotic relationship.
Here is a link to the Providence Winter Farmers’ Market (actually in Pawtucket): http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets_details.php?market=29