I’ve been a Rhode Island resident now for over five years. I love the miles of beachfront located practically at my front door in South County and the way the entire state freaks out when three inches of snow threaten to fall. I’m from Brooklyn, NY, but I lived in Central New York for ten years. I learned about whiteouts, ice storms, and frostbite through painful experience. I now confidently say: I know snow. When I first moved to Rhode Island, I thought, well, winter is going to be a piece of cake. I felt confident about that claim until I saw my first Rhode Island snowplow. It was circa 1948.
Winter in Rhode Island is more complicated than I thought it would be. That’s why I appreciate the Coastal Growers Market, a four-season farmers market. I used to live near the Union Square Market in New York City and happily shopped at the Rochester Public Market in Central New York. I love farmers, I love the food they grow, and I love supporting them and eating their food. The Coastal Growers’ Market is like both of these markets, but it reminds me more of the market when I lived in Cassis, France during a semester long writing fellowship with The Camargo Foundation. The vendors in the open-air market would teach me French and I would bring home the loaves of hot olive bread, fresh greens, rabbit, olives, cheese and fresh eggs. Each vendor was kind, whether I was buying two heads of lettuce or a bouquet of mimosa that was large enough to make me feel like a beauty pageant winner. They were patient and funny as I made a mockery of the French language. At the market, I met the people with whom I would soon be hiking buddies and purchased ingredients that meant I made excellent meals without ever stepping foot into a supermarket.
The Coastal Growers’ Market takes me back to the market in Cassis. The farmers and vendors are kind, patient, and caring—towards their customers and about the food and products they provide. In the summer, when the market is located at Casey Farm, I meet up with friends and we sit all morning on picnic benches and listen to music by different local bands each Saturday morning while drinking iced tea or a cold-pressed iced coffee from The Coffee Guy and eat the MOST AMAZING tacos in New England by Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah’s Tacos. In the winter, the market moves indoors to Lafayette Mill and we still listen to great music and drink—only it’s more likely to be an apple cider that’s been freshly pressed by Barden Family Orchard or a juice from Fully Rooted. There’s Seven Stars for croissants and fresh crusty bread and Bravo Wood Fire Pizza. We meet up with our farmers and buy our groceries for the week as well. I get my greens from Mark, the hydroponic farmer of Abasaloma Greenhouse. I buy my fresh eggs from Zephyr Farm. And I indulge in nitrate-free bacon from Pat’s Pasteurized, where I’ve gotten to know Deb and Annie, aka Santa’s Elves, who do service work feeding the homeless throughout the year. I get my fresh seafood from The Local Catch and Matunuck Oyster Farm, where the young children love to hear Gabe’s stories about bivalves and watch as he opens an oyster just to watch their eyes light up in delight. There’s also Yorerganics where I purchase my laundry soapbuds and Susannah of Susannah’s Ice Cream and Sorbet, who makes the best darn Meyer lemon sorbet no matter what the season.
Coastal Growers’ Market has made my transition to Rhode Island simple. I’ve made new friends and I’ve become part of a community of people who care about food and healthy living. I’ve only mentioned a few of the farmers and vendors at the market. If you need holiday gifts, the market is the perfect stop. If you want to meet up with terrific people and have a relaxing Saturday morning, the market folks will greet you with open arms.
Every Saturday from 10am to 1pm until May 2, 2015, Coastal Growers’ Market is at Lafayette Mill, 650 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown. I hope to run into you there!