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Fruit Hill Farmers Market grows local greens

It is a warm Wednesday afternoon at Rhode Island College. Parking lot A is bustling with activity as vendors offer up their local goods – ripened produce, bread, pastries, pesto, fresh-cut flowers and artisan pizzas baked this morning.
The Fruit Hill Farmers Market began last September as a pilot project. Two Fruit Hill area friends and residents, Jennifer Zolkos, who is also part of the Fruit Hill neighborhood association, and Jennifer Quinn, approached RIC President Nancy Carriuolo with the idea for a campus farmers market. The market, which helps bring the college community and area residents together, was in line with one of Carriuolo’s goals as president - community outreach.

Given the okay, Zolkos and Quinn had just six weeks to put last year’s market together.

Since last year, the Fruit Hill Farmers Market has expanded from 10 to 12 vendors and began two months earlier. The number of vendors is expected to grow once the fall semester begins. Heat sensitive vendors such as Narragansett Creamery and Ocean State Chocolates were unable to commit to July and August to preserve the quality of the food.

“If last year was any indicator,” said Patricia Nolin, RIC’s project coordinator, “the students really enjoyed it. It’s a good way to interact with the faculty, staff and students you don’t see throughout the day.”

Last year, items students could take back to their dorms were limited, said Quinn. But this year there is more fruit available, homemade Indian food, and with LaSalle Bakery at the market, students can enjoy pizzas, bread, muffins, pastries, and sandwiches.

Dana Stark of RIC’s Network and Telecommunications Department said she enjoyed the market. “I bought something from every stand,” she said.


John Manni of LaSalle Bakery hands a patron of the
Farmer's Market his purchases.
John and Mike Manni of LaSalle Bakery said the market has been, “Excellent. We like it. It’s fun and close to us. We see a lot of people here that we don’t see at the bakery.” Mike Manni highly recommends the pumpkin yogurt muffin drizzled with chocolate.

Liz Smith, owner of My Wicked Garden, sells homemade, fair trade, organic soaps, teas, tinctures and herbs. Smith said she finds the RIC Farmers Market, “kid friendly.”

Michele Kozloski, farmer and owner of Zephyr Farm, sells fresh produce and “Besto Pesto” made from her farm-fresh ingredients and a recipe she created.

Stirring Spoon, owned by Linda Couture sells specialty sauces for dipping and glazing with all natural ingredients and no additives.

“Buying from the farmers market is buying from the state. Buyers are supporting local agriculture and giving money back to the state,” explained Zolkos. Quinn added the produce lasts much longer than produce she purchases in the grocery store. “It’s not shipped from California or someplace far away. It’s grown right in your neighborhood.”

The Fruit Hill Farmers Market is part of the Farm Fresh R.I. program, designed to link farmers and buyers so people can enjoy fresh, locally produced foods. Buyers can purchase items at the Fruit Hill Farmers Market with cash, EBT/food stamps, WIC, seniors’ coupons, credit, and fresh bucks, the fresh food currency. Fresh bucks encourage buyers to shop at all local farmers markets.

Many of the vendors from the Fruit Hill Farmers Market will be participating in the farmers market held during RIC’s Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Park View Fiddle Club, a group of young students from Cranston’s public school, will perform traditional “open market” folk music at the farmers market that day according said Antoinette Gomes, interim coordinator of the RIC Unity Center.

For more information on the Fruit Hill Farmers Market, contact Jennifer Zolkos or Jennifer Quinn at fruithillfarmersmarket@gmail.com or visit www.farmfresh.org to see a list of vendors and directions.

Vendors interested in participating in the Fruit Hill Farmers Market can contact Patricia Nolin, special assistant to the president, at pnolin@ric.edu or 456-9854.