What comes to mind when you think of Rhode Island? Beautiful beaches? Great schools? Family Guy? The best food? How about local farms and craft businesses? With close to 30 farmers markets across the state, demand for locally grown organic food has increased substantially over the past few years. Many health-conscious and community-oriented people seek out farmers markets on a regular basis, and they are the driving force behind the new food renaissance emerging all across the United States, not just our miniature state. I think it is safe to say that this freight train is starting to pick up speed, and it will be near impossible to stop.
Nothing highlights this fact more firmly than the sheer existence, not to mention success, of the Wintertime Farmers Market on Main Street in Pawtucket, the only major winter farmers market in Rhode Island. Once the Hope Street/Blackstone Boulevard market in Providence closes for the year, the wintertime market, less than a mile north over the city border, promptly opens its doors toting over 60 vendors, almost as many as its outdoor counterpart. Farmers, craft business owners, and patrons pick up right where they left off, enjoying every second of being embedded in the heart of their community, summer or winter for the past 8 years.
There are two gigantic benefits to buying products from a local farm or small business:
1. The products offered to customers are made with passion and hand-crafted with care.
2. The money spent on these items is directly injected into the local economy, helping fuel demand and create new opportunities for current and future entrepreneurs.
Without local small businesses, it is impossible for a community to maintain any sense of connectedness or mutual understanding—a common vision so to speak. There is nothing wrong with some globalization and exportation of goods, but there comes a point when businesses have to learn to serve their own constituents before trying to hit the homerun overseas. It is very encouraging to see the emergence of new businesses that are not only profit-driven, but strive to make a positive social impact as well.
The farmers market community in Rhode Island has hit a seemingly endless period of growth. Whether it is a warm sunny day or a cold winter night, indoors or out, Rhode Islanders still manage to support their brothers and sisters on a year-round basis. The fact that our farmers markets never cease operating, even for one week, is proof that a sense of togetherness might be all we need to get to the promised land.
-Michael Cerrone Jr., Buxton Bugle Contributor