2009-07-16 / News

Shopping tour of Jamestown nets plenty of fresh local fare

By Joan Breakell

Harry Scott-Bennett (left) and Greg Zeek outside Zeek’s Creek, where a variety of fresh local seafood is sold. Photo by Joan Breakell Harry Scott-Bennett (left) and Greg Zeek outside Zeek’s Creek, where a variety of fresh local seafood is sold. Photo by Joan Breakell Chefs and nutrition experts alike often extol the superior flavor and reported health benefits of eating local produce, grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and the freshest seafood. The Rhode Island Department of Agriculture recently launched a new campaign called “Get Fresh, Buy Local,” to encourage consumers to purchase local foods. According to the department, consumers who buy local help support the local economy and cut down on greenhouse gasproducing transportation. Some local farmers also use organic methods, which helps further reduce the impact of farming on the environment.

Fortunately, islanders do not have to travel far to find fresh local fare. On a recent Saturday morning, I mapped a circular shopping safari to bag ingredients for my own delicious feast.

My first stop was East Ferry for some early summer vegetables from Jennifer Talancy’s Stearns Farm organic garden. Talancy typically sets up shop there every Saturday morning. I then headed out to East Shore Road and Eldred Avenue, where I hoped to get salad greens or beans from the James town Community Farm stand. The volunteers were hard at work weeding and staking crops that will be harvested for food pantries, but farm manager Bob Sutton said the stand will open at the end of July. I realized that island farmers were suffering the same agonizingly slow start as my own little garden did. Tender seedlings, chilled and drenched throughout June, have just begun to thrive. In a couple of weeks, though, kale, beets, beans, herbs and, if the weather cooperates, tomatoes will all be available at the community farm, as will the best honey I have ever tasted.

Across the bridge, but still local

I then crossed the Jamestown Bridge and drove a short way down Route 1A to Casey Farm, where the Coastal Growers Market is held every Saturday morning.

I knew I could buy grassfed beef and lamb raised right in Jamestown on Watson Farm by the Mintos or Casey Farm Manager Pat McNiff’s organic chickens pastured at Beaverhead Farm. I picked up a flank steak and some Casey Farm rainbow chard and crisp white salad turnips (Their crops were just a little further along than ours). There were other temptations, but I completed my mission and drove back across the bridge.

I stopped at Watson Farm on North Main Road, where a wide selection of ready-to-transplant organic herb plants is sold on the honor system. Corn and pumpkins will be available later in the season. Across the road, the Dutra Farm cows grazed. Owners Joe and Jesse Dutra are part of the Rhody Fresh Dairy Cooperative and their fresh local milk is always in our fridge.

I made my next stop just down the road at Zeek’s Creek for an appetizer of smoked bluefish and flounder, caught and filleted by Greg Zeek. Zeek’s also had local oysters, quahogs, scallops, swordfi sh, halibut and more, plus live local bait for those who want to try their luck at a catch of their own.

I made one last stop before I headed home to cook. The smell of fresh baked bread greeted me at the Village Hearth Bakery and Café on the corner of Watson Avenue and North Main Road. Owners Andrea and Doriana Colognese make fabulous artisan breads using their own milled flours and their wood-grilled pizzas have a loyal following.

By the time I returned home, I had all the makings for a local feast of smoked bluefish with horseradish sauce, sautéed flounder with dill and lemon butter, Texmati rice baked with rainbow shard and sautéed onions, fresh crusty bread and butter, and blueberry pie. We ate every bite.

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