Weaver Library Farmers Market starts sixth summer season in East Providence

More vendors, food demos and special events than ever are planned

By Mike Rego
Posted 6/12/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The fact that the Weaver Farmers Market is about to begin its sixth season with its 2019 debut set for Thursday evening, June 20, shows it truly follows the credo of promoting the …

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Weaver Library Farmers Market starts sixth summer season in East Providence

More vendors, food demos and special events than ever are planned

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The fact that the Weaver Farmers Market is about to begin its sixth season with its 2019 debut set for Thursday evening, June 20, shows it truly follows the credo of promoting the idea of “sustainability,” a key element of the local farming community whose products are featured there each summer.

The market runs each Thursday through September 12 from 4 to 7 p.m.

It hasn’t always been easy, as Weaver’s Assistant Director/Adult Services coordinator and co-manager of the market Joyce May readily admits, but she’s quick to say it’s been well worth it.

Mrs. May and market co-manager Tara Cimini, who’s back for a second year, said they were gratified to see the market reach its sixth year, especially so after they attended Harvest New England, an agriculture marketing conference held recently in Sturbridge, Mass. Over 400 market managers from across the region were on hand to discuss pertinent matters.

Mrs. May said she was a bit taken aback to find out most markets don’t survive half as long as Weaver has, the average being just three years. She noted, among other factors, the support of the Friends of the East Providence Library and growing interest from its patrons have played crucial roles in the Weaver’s market survival and ability to thrive.

“I think because we are a community market, because we’re library based, our goal is not to make money. We’re very fortunate having the support of the Friends,” Mrs. May explained. “Also, the constant promotion, whether about the concerts or the market, it’s constantly letting people know we’re here. I feel very validated now going into our sixth year, but we still want to grow our customer base, keep people coming back week after week.

“Another reason we’ve been successful, I think, is there’s a cross-over from the library patron and market. We’re really try to make the market a place to connect with neighbors, buy really good food and know kids can enjoy a really nice lawn and being outdoors.”

The 2019 edition of the market features an expanded group of vendors, a more varied schedule of events and premiers next week with a special appearance by local Azorean cookbook author Maria Lawton as well as the Swing, R&B and boogie-woogie music of Keith Munslow and the Superchief Trio. Ms. Lawton, star of “Maria’s Portuguese Table “ on Rhode Island PBS, will be talking with visitors and signing books. Also, the staff and volunteers of the Childhood Lead Action Project will be on hand to discuss very serious matter of lead poisoning.

“I wanted to kick it off with something really lively,” Mrs. May said of the June 20 market.

Aside from the welcomed fanfare, the market is driven by the products for sale. Mrs. May said she was “psyched” about the presence of additional merchants this season, growing the number to a high of 17. She said, “I think we have a really nice group of new vendors and returning vendors, having so many I think will help grow the customer base.”

The 2019 list of farmers and vendors at the Weaver Market include: Cedar Ledge Apiaries; Coorg Coffee; Delfina’s Plants; Diggers Catch; Friends of the East Providence Public Library; Geek Gardens; Gnarly Vines Farm; Harvest Kitchen; Hilly’s Soaps; Mariska’s Confections; Martinelli’s Shop; Moor Food; Osamequin Farm; Pickily; Pop’s All Beef Hot Dogs; Radish House Farm; Sacred Cow Granola; and Vermont Syrup Company.

“We try to make it a community event, but it really is about the food. I think people come back because they’ve buying greens like they’ve never tasted before and other products that they may not have access to,” said Mrs. May. “And there are others who really just want to support local farming.”

Once again this summer due to a grant from Farm Fresh Rhode Island, SNAP customers of the market can compound their value. For every dollar customers swipe with EBT at the market, they will get a free dollar in “Bonus Bucks” for buying fruits and vegetables. The market also accepts WIC, Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons, cash and credit or debit cards.

“To be able to offer that to our residents is really nice. It’s like doubling your SNAP money,” Mrs. May said.

Another traditional element of the market, food demonstrations, will be expanded this summer. Among demos planned, the SNAP office will do two during the season, using goods from the market.

Children’s activities have become an integral part of the market over the years and this season is no different. In fact, Mrs. May said events planned with Youth Services Coordinator Pamela Schwieger are intended to “really encourage outdoor play, make it inviting to families to attend.”

Last but not least, one more new element to the market comes at the end of its run, September 12, when a “farm-to-table” community dinner, sponsored by the Friends of the E.P. Library, is planned. The details of the event will follow later in the summer as the night approaches.

“I think that it would be really fun,” Mrs. May said of the dinner. “Given the lawn, the spirit of the market and the library, I think ‘farm-to-table’ would be a wonderful way for us to end the season.”

From now to fall, there’s ample work to be done, but that doesn’t dissuade the market staff. Nope, it only gives Mrs. May and the others associated with it more reason to put in the time to make it a staple of the summer community events calendar.

“People ask me about the benefits of a farmers market to a community, and I say let me count the ways. And I really believe that,” Mrs. May added. “It’s just a wonderful open, free space to come to on a Thursday afternoon, to be around your neighbors and get the ingredients to make a great meal as well.”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.