Newport This Week

More Than Just Veggies at Summer Markets

More Than Just Veggies at Summer Markets

Empanadas from market vendor The Perfect Empanada and Little Fish tacos.

Empanadas from market vendor The Perfect Empanada and Little Fish tacos.

The Aquidneck Growers summer farmers markets have launched for the season and, once again, Aquidneck Community Table’s market manager Kelsey Fitzgibbons has managed to raise the bar.

With more than 40 vendors on board, participating weekly at one or both markets, or in varying rotation, the two markets are bursting with the beginning of the season’s bounty.

On Saturdays, they set up their tents from 9 a.m. to noon at the unexpectedly vast and green campus of Embrace Home Loans in Middletown, behind Town Hall. Parking is plentiful and the lawns well-manicured.

An afternoon market takes place at the intersection of Memorial Boulevard and Chapel Street every Wednesday, from 2 to 6 p.m. A tour of the 2023 edition was impressive and surprising.

As always, there was live music on site, a guitarist strumming and singing folk tunes, and this year, both markets are offering a free kids program, The Food Explorers, where children can sample a fresh fruit or vegetable of the week and gather stamps to add to their Food Passport.



But it was both the increased number of vendors and the kinds of vendors that was interesting. Joining the reliable local farmers from across the state who grow and sell their fresh, mostly organic produce, a slew of prepared food products has arrived on the scene.

Fitzgibbons said that during and post-COVID, a plethora of these businesses dropped into the landscape.

“A lot of them have been popping up, in the last year especially, and we thought it would be great to embrace these new entrepreneurs and incorporate them into the market,” she said.

Laura Kirshkaln is among them. Her Three Wishes gluten free bakery stand will be on hand on alternate Wednesdays. The bakery, located in Johnston, offers freshly baked sweet and savory goods, like churros, calzones, raspberry and lemon bars, and biscuits, all fashioned deliciously without wheat.

“We were looking for another market this year and thought that Newport needed some fresh, preservative free, GF baked goods brought to their neighborhood,” she said. “We were interested in Aquidneck Growers Market after hearing wonderful things from other vendors.”

New York City transplant Wendy Logan is a career writer whose work is fueled by a passion for food and libations, art, music, and culture.

New York City transplant Wendy Logan is a career writer whose work is fueled by a passion for food and libations, art, music, and culture.

Also new to the market is the Little Fish food truck, which puts out tacos and other Mexican-inspired dishes using sustainable seafood and local ingredients. Owner Josh Berman said he’s looking forward to seeing market traffic increase as the season wears on. The diversity of offerings should be a draw for families as schools let out for summer, and for the snowbirds settling back in.

“[There are] a lot of great vendors, from knife sharpening to fresh-made dog food,” Berman said of the selection.

“I was drawn to this particular market because I spent many years working in restaurants in Newport … I have frequented this market,” he said. “I’ve seen food vendors come and go, and I wanted to offer something unique, local, and delicious.”

There’s also granola, nuts, Caribbean inspired culinary syrups, juices and sauces. Also of note is African food provided by Ethiopian Eats.

“The food is incredible,” said Fitzgibbons.

In just a few short weeks, the market has begun to find its annual customer base, while stepping up to appeal to a more varied clientele. “We have already met some great customers who came to both markets we attended,” said Kirshkaln.

In 2023, a convivial, community atmosphere is the point, said Fitzgibbons.

“We saw . . . that loss of the exciting community feeling,” she said. “It went away a little bit, and it’s nice to feel like it’s back. So that’s our goal and vision, to reinvigorate and get back to the feeling of those pre-COVID days.”

A third ACT farmers market opens on July 10 at Miantonomi Park, running on Mondays through Aug. 28. All ACT markets offer a dollar-for-dollar free match for produce for SNAP customers who use their EBT allowance at a market. Many vendors also accept WIC (Women, Infants and Children).

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