Economy
8:52 am
Fri December 28, 2012

Farmers Markets popular in winter

The popularity of Farmers Markets in Rhode Island is growing and you can find them during the winter months, in addition to summer months.  Chief of the Division of Agriculture of the Department of Environmental Management, Ken Ayers says the markets move indoors during the cold weather.  
Ayers says Farmers Markets are important to local farms.

"There's parts of the industry that are developing that really haven't developed before."

“Rhode Island does very, very well in terms of their retail sales and production of local products.  We’re ranked first in the country in terms of the percentage of all of our agricultural sales that goes to direct retail to the public of fruits and vegetables and things like that.  It’s really a growing and important part of the state’s economy.”
The Winter Farmer’s Markets in Rhode Island are helping to change the way farming is done in the Ocean State.   
Ayers is pleased local farms are responding to the popularity of Winter Farmer’s Markets.
“What it’s also created amongst them, because the market is there, is various techniques to extend the season.  Whether that’s the use of greenhouses or crops that are more likely to be grown in cooler weather and things like that.  It also helps out with markets that aren’t so seasonal, like meat or dairy, in terms of providing markets during the off season.”
Ayers says the Winter Markets only started about six years ago.
“There’s parts of the industry that are developing that really haven’t developed before.  We have a strong local meat industry now.  Dairy has expanded.  Rhody Fresh just put out their first cheese product.  Other parts of the industry- wine and season extension in terms of some of the winter crops and things like that.  So, it’s really very diversified, not as limited as you would have found, for example, five or six years ago.  So really it’s almost similar to the type of products you would find at a summer’s farmer’s market.”
The Winter Farmers markets are located in  Cranston, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Bristol, Pawtucket, Glocester and Portsmouth.