Aquidneck Growers Market to Open at Embrace Home Loans

In the good news department, the Aquidneck Farmers Market has found a new home.

You can now find it every Saturday morning, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to noon at 25 Enterprise Way in Middletown on the Embrace Home Loans campus, just between City Hall and the adjacent mall. .

The new spot comes with some nice perks that buyers will appreciate. First of all, it is centrally located with easy access just off East Main Road. There’s also plenty of space for the more than 25 vendors to sell their wide selection of locally sourced foods, plants, prepared foods and beverages.

Best of all, there is plenty of free parking. We look forward to continued market success and growth in its new home.

Dan Lederer

It was touch and go for a minute. If Middletown City Council hadn’t approved the market permit Monday night, the Farmers’ Market would have officially been homeless. Thankfully the council has passed and the market will debut in its new home on Saturday.

Congratulations also to the people of Embrace for taking over. As a company headquartered in Middletown, it’s nice to see their commitment to our island and their support of local nonprofits like the Aquidneck Community Table, the people who run the Growers Market.

“ACT is very grateful to Embrace Home Loans for offering to share their lovely place with us,” said ACT Board Chair Susan Wells. “It’s a great location with ample parking, and right on time too!”

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This will be the sixth move for the market in the past 30 months. That’s a lot of moving, making it a challenge for market goers who want a consistent presence. The market’s original home was at Newport Vineyards in Middletown, where it flourished for over 25 years. But as the winery and market grew, space became a challenge between parking issues and the conflicting needs of the event.

The market then moved to the roundhouse at Easton’ Beach in Newport, which seemed like the perfect fit. Then came COVID and the closure of all public buildings by the city, including the Rotunda. From there, the market was moved to the Gateway Visitor Center for some chilly Saturday mornings outdoors, and then to Pell Elementary School where it existed until the fall of 2021.

Karla Simmons of Simmons Farm assists a customer at the 2020 Aquidneck Farmer's Market.

For the winter, the market was moved to Stoneacre Garden in Newport, a good solution for the colder months, but not feasible for the busy spring and summer seasons. The market was due to return to Pell for the 2022 summer season, but very recently people learned that construction at the school would prevent the site from being used this summer.

Suddenly the market was homeless.

The Farmers Market is important to our community. It’s a place where we can all buy our locally grown fresh produce directly from growers and suppliers. There’s something special about filling your fridge with items you buy by putting money (or a credit card) in the hand of the person who actually harvested, cooked, or created it.

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It’s investing in our community — keeping our money local. Plus, the freshness of what you buy is unbeatable. Browsing the stalls on a Saturday morning looking for something to cook for dinner that night is as fresh as it gets. Additionally, you can afford some of the specialty items for sale.

But beyond the joy of shopping, the Growers Market has a significant impact on the community. Through a partnership with Farm Fresh RI, Aquidneck Community Table offers 100% matching for fruits and vegetables to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) customers who use their EBT allowance at a market.

In 2020-2021, ACT has matched nearly $30,000 for SNAP participants, which has had a substantial impact on addressing food insecurity in our own community. Many market vendors also accept WIC (women, infants and children). The Farmers Market helps provide our community with access to fresh, healthy, locally sourced food, as well as a food support program for community members struggling with food bills.

Young Ida can't wait to get to the Aquidneck Farmers' Market at her new home at Embrace Home Loans.

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That is what community markets are for.

The new home for the Embrace Home Loans on-campus market will welcome many visitors this weekend. I hope we will have a nice warm day to enjoy it. The market will be there regardless of the weather, and you should be there too.

Because when someone moves into the neighborhood, it’s nice to visit them, especially when there’s good food.

Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years experience in the restaurant industry throughout New England. He continues to work locally behind the scenes in the industry and remains a dedicated fan of all things restaurant and hospitality. His column appears on newportri.com and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!

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