Fort Getty farmers market is place to be on Monday afternoons
After five weeks, organizers, vendors and visitors all agree on one thing – the Jamestown farmers market is a hit. The bazaar is drawing substantial crowds to the mix of artists, farmers and bakers in residence under the Fort Getty pavilion on Monday afternoons.
According to organizer Leah Rosin-Pritchard, more and more people are making their way to the market each week, both residents and visitors from out of town. She said it was uncertain at first whether the artisans would be successful, but it appears that all of the vendors are doing well.
This is the market’s first year of existence. Rosin-Pritchard, along with local business owners Will Wilson and Heidi Doyle, approached the Town Council with the idea this spring. The councilors liked the idea and gave them the green light.
Rosin-Pritchard noted there are still voids in the vendor mix that she hopes to fill, particularly in the food area. Among the food vendors she still hopes to attract are seafood, honey, cheese, ice cream and sandwiches that can be eaten on-site.
“Everybody is incredibly busy in the summer,” said Rosin- Pritchard. “I understand the difficulty of wanting to take on more, but not necessarily being able to.”
As attendance grows, there is also the potential for parking to become a minor issue. In the early going, organizers have noticed people parking on both sides of the road leading up to the pavilion. By parking on the road instead of pulling into the available spaces closer to the market, travel up and down the street may become more difficult. Rosin-Pritchard said the Recreation Department, which operates Fort Getty, would prefer that people pull up and park closer to the pavilion.
However, according to Rosin- Pritchard, officials have been patient and understanding so far. “They’ve been really supportive and great to work with,” she said.
One attraction both visitors and vendors seem to enjoy is the weekly live music. Every other week music is provided by the local Americana group Saddle up the Chicken, with other musicians performing on alternate weeks. One vendor said being at the market was like getting to go to a free concert every week.
Sheila Neill is from Pawtucket. She was visiting the market for the first time Monday with a friend from Jamestown. She nibbled on a soft pretzel from the Great Harvest Bread Company while searching for native tomatoes from one of the farm tables.
“It’s very nice,” Neill said. “And it’s certainly very pleasant here.”
Jamestown Town Administrator Bruce Keiser was also paying his first visit to the market. He was hoping to find some fresh lettuce and grass-fed beef from one of the farmers. Keiser said he was impressed by the turnout.
“I am absolutely bowled over with the way the public has responded,” he said. “It’s far beyond our expectations for the fifth week. People have asked me if Jamestown could support a farmers market. I think that question has been answered.”
Harry and Gail Chase from Hodgkiss Farm said they are pleased with the success of the market. On Monday, they were offering peppers, potted herbs, green beans, summer squash and yellow zucchini. The farmers also had wool products sourced from local sheep. Harry said the only reason they weren’t selling corn – which they offer from their farm stand on North Road – was space considerations.
Chase was one of several people who thought that seafood would be a good addition to the market.
“Farmers and fishermen stick together,” he said. “We like to say that we were the first environmentalists.”
Sharon Clingan from Jamestown is a regular at the market. She said she would like to see more fruits and vegetables, and more farmers in general. John Rezendes, another Jamestowner, was also at the pavilion Monday. He said the market had a nice variety of crafts, bread and herbs.
Not everyone is from Jamestown. Paul DiBiase is the owner of the Great Harvest Bread Company in North Kingstown. He is one of the few market vendors from off the island. His offerings include a variety of whole grain breads, including his company’s flagship honey whole wheat loaf. DiBiase’s table also included soft pretzels and a skipper bar, which is a cobbler made from oatmeal, peach and berries.
“It’s been fantastic,” DiBiase said. “It’s a great place to hang out on Monday afternoon. It’s been very busy.”
It’s also been great for sales, DiBiase added.
While acknowledging that it is still early in the season for farmers, DiBiase said he hopes to see more corn and tomatoes brought to the market. He agreed a seafood vendor would be a good addition to mix.
Jillian Barber, a well-known ceramic artist from Jamestown, has been a mainstay at the market since it opened. Her creations on hand include a little bit of everything she does, ranging in price from $15 to about $100. There are brightly colored ceramic pea pods, mermaids and fish in her display.
“I find it absolutely wonderful to be here,” Barber said. “It’s upbeat and you can feel the positive energy. The breeze is fantastic. I meet nice people, islanders and off-islanders. I get a positive reaction to my work.”
Barber is another vendor who thinks that seafood would be a welcome addition to the market. She also mentioned clothes and dog-related products as possible additions.
Linda Del Buono from Good as Gold Farm reports excellent sales in the first few weeks of the market. Her table starts off each week overflowing with vegetables like beets, green beans, onions, Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard and peppers. But every week, customers clean her out.
“I sell out every single market,” Del Buono said. “At the beginning of the year, I was bringing back stuff, but here I’m selling out. I think it’s because this particular market isn’t oversaturated with vegetable farmers.”
Jan Durand is one of the only vendors offering food that can be consumed on-site. On Monday she had a fudge pie that was available by the slice. In past weeks she has offered lime pie, shrimp cocktail and an egg omelet.
“I like that there are fresh vegetables, and as the season progresses, there will be more vegetables,” Durand said. “I like the music. It makes things more lively. It would be nice to see more food.”
A decision is forthcoming on how long the market will stay open this summer. It will definitely continue through August, with the possibility that it might extend through September, or even into October.
“Everybody has been really happy about this year, and really excited about next year,” Rosin- Pritchard said.