When a small winter market was set up at AS220 three years ago, no one could foresee how that would generate the large and bountiful Wintertime Market in the Hope Artiste Village the following year. And just one year after the farmers' and vendors' success in Pawtucket, the Coastal Growers Market (at Casey Farm in the warmer months) and the South Kingstown Farmers' Market (at East Farm, Kingston, in the summer, and the long-est continuously-operating market in the state) would find indoor quarters from November through April or May.
What the three markets have in common are spacious quarters in former textile mills (the former Hope Webbing Mill in Pawtucket, the Lafayette Mill in North Kingstown, the Peace Dale Processing Plant in South Kingstown). They also share a grand array of produce from local farms; Rhode Island seafood; locally-made crafts; Rhode Island-raised poultry, beef, pork, and eggs; Narragansett Creamery dairy products; farm-made condiments, such as pesto, jams, salsas, and relishes; Rhody bakeries; Rhody orchards; a home-grown acoustic band to entertain customers; and a spirit of small-business enterprise that couldn't be more personal.
At each market, there are usually samples of various wares, be it bits of cinnamon roll at Seven Stars Bakery, Besto Pesto at the Zephyr Farm stand, cheese chunks at the Farmstead or Narragansett Creamery booths, goat cheese on bread rounds from the Reynolds Barn, snippets of micro-greens from Farming Turtles, jam on crackers from various jam-makers, apple slices from the Barden Family Orchard, chocolate pretzels or nonpareils from the Chocolate Delicacy, or tastings from Susanna's Ice Cream.
You'll barely need lunch, but if you do, you can find Bravo's wood-fired pizza just outside the Lafayette Mill and Hewtin's Dogs Mobile Truck just outside Hope Artiste Village. Bravo treks in a small wood-fired hearth, which warms pizza slices in 10 seconds. You can choose from many kinds, such as sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, pesto, or sweet pepper, and then take your slice inside to a picnic bench to munch, while you listen to that week's musical ensemble (it might be the Elderly Brothers playing, among other oldies, "Wake Up Little Susie").
The Truck (with Chez Pascal's Matt Gennuso) is offering breakfast platters from 10 to 11 am and sandwiches from 11 am to 1 pm. With the Wintertime Market's new Wednesday hours (4 to 7 pm), the Truck is also offering take-home meals, such as crispy chicken and leg ragout, pork stew, or knockwurst with spaetzle. Also available are sandwiches that feature bacon-wrapped pork meat loaf, currywurst (brat with grilled onion sauce), Alsatian sausage with celery root, and a Cuban sandwich with house-made bologna. Hewtin's Dogs are all-beef, from Grote & Weigel, with house-made condiments; and sometimes the Truck has a vegetarian sloppy joe or a grilled chicken sandwich (chez-pascal.com/HewtinsDogsMobile.htm).
Though it's only been a year for the two South County markets, they already feel like a well-established part of my Saturday shopping rounds. Some of the fresh produce to expect include fall/winter greens, like kale, chard, and collards; root veggies, like carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, and celeriac; colorful winter squashes and pumpkins; cabbage-family relatives, like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and even broccoli; storables, like onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes; salad greens, especially from those farms that have greenhouses; apples, cranberries, and cider all winter long. There are two bakeries at each market, with completely different offerings. Ah, that olive bread from Seven Stars! The veggie-stuffed breads from Olga's! The pizza strips from Palmieri's! The scones from Provencal Bakery!