Winter farmers' market in Portsmouth opens Saturday

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PORTSMOUTH — Starting Saturday, Nov. 9, you can shop for fresh, local produce inside the cozy confines of the old parish hall at St. Mary's Church.

That's when the Aquidneck Growers’ indoor winter market's second season kicks off. A wide variety of locally grown fruit and vegetables will be available through the winter in addition to fresh breads and pastries, locally sourced fresh seafood, pasture-raised meat and eggs and changing weekly artisan vendors.

The market will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays through May 2014 at the old parish hall, 324 East Main.

Grab a cup of coffee, meet friends and listen to local musicians as you browse the local food vendors' wares. Proponents say shopping at farmers’ markets not only supports local agriculture and the preservation of open space but also keeps more grocery dollars in the regional economy.

The indoor market is a continuation of the summer market hosted by Newport Vineyards in Middletown. Market founder Lisa Lewis said she's thrilled by the increase in market visitors over the past few seasons.

“Thanks to all our island shoppers for a fabulous summer season. We welcome your continued support at our winter location," she said.

Shoppers will see some additions to this year's indoor market, according to Bevan Linsley, market manager.

"We have two new vendors joining us from our summer market: The Deli, makers of excellent Armenian foods for takeout, and an astonishing selection of mushrooms from the Rhode Island Mushroom Co. They are finding huge success selling to local restaurants, but their only retail outlets are a few local markets so far," said Ms. Linsley.

The mushroom company was founded by partners Mike Hallock and Bob DiPietro, who teamed with the Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown to grow some of the more desirable mushrooms such as shiitakes, porcinis and portobellas, to more exotic varieties such as yellow oyster, maitake (also known as senorita, or hen-of-the-woods) and pioppinos (black poplar mushrooms). The company also sells a "chef's mix" featuring several different varieties.

Other vendors include Aquidneck Farms and Maplewood Farm of Portsmouth; Simmons Farm, Provencal Bakery and Cafe and The Coffee Guy of Middletown; Tallulah's Tacos and Le Petit Gourmet of Newport; June Love's English Cakes of East Providence; Paradise Hill Farm of Westport; Bravo Wood Fired Pizza of North Kingstown; Barden Family Orchard of North Scituate; The Local Catch of Narragansett; Pat's Pastured of East Greenwich; Olga's Cup And Saucer of Providence; Absalona Greenhouse of Chepachet; and Matunuck Vegetable Farm of Matunuck.

Food scraps collected

The market also collects food scraps during market hours to use as compost for St. Mary's Church's garden.

Here's what you can and can't drop off.

Yes: Fruit scarps, cooked or uncooked vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, eggshells

No: Meats, fish and cheeses, yard waste, citrus peels, kitty litter or dog mess, grains, bread and pastry.

Bring you scraps in a reusable container or a brown paper bag.

The food-scrap collection program is sponsored by Newport Restaurant Group, with support from Sustainable Aquidneck and Aquidneck Growers' Market. Learn more at www.ecoRI.org/compost.

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