By Katy Killilea
The Wintertime Farmer’s Market (organized by Farm Fresh Rhode Island) in Pawtucket is so over-the-top wonderful that we can forgive the Hope Artiste Village its extra little “e.” With activities for kids and fun little shops, in addition to locally grown produce and local cheeses, meats, shellfish, baked goods, and more local stuff we all want, this market is a winner. Providence (thanks to Pawtucket) just took another huge step toward Portland/Seattle legendary cool-city status.
As for food shopping with kids, I like it better without them–it’s crowded. But my kids had fun too: students from Johnson and Wales were running a “Vegetable Bingo” game for kids as parents watched other JW chefs demonstrate the making of local apple crisp. They loved sampling handmade chocolates, visiting the Game Shop (which was full of unusual European board games of great appeal to kids), and selecting trading cards from a huge box of free ones–utterly devalued currency to serious players but rare treasures to certain little boys–at Die Hard Games. And Die Hard Games will be hosting free Pokemon tournaments for kids every Saturday at 1:00–guaranteed to attract additional small shoppers to the market.
I left with groceries for the week: local eggs, dried beans, oats, vegetables, and meat for not much more than I would have spent at the grocery store. The quality, of course, is far better. And the shopping experience, of course, is so much more fun. Highlights from my bag: blueberry chocolate jam ($6), two dozen free-range eggs ($6), Romanesco cauliflower ($3/lb.), and grass-fed Angus beef ($5.50/lb.).
Most vendors accept cash, checks, and “Fresh Bucks, which are golden coins imprinted with a tomato. Fresh Bucks are adorable, available in $1 and $5 increments, and can be purchased with a credit card. So a stop for cash at an ATM needn’t slow you down on your way to the market.
Hope Artiste Village – 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket
Every Saturday until May
For more info, visit: www.farmfreshri.org