Market Scene: Hope Street Farmer's Market in Providence, RI

After a dreary, rainy spring that felt like an endless winter, summer finally arrived in Rhode Island a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly bikers and joggers populated the streets, and now everyone's sporting bare shoulders and wide smiles again. My favorite part is the return of market season—there are almost 50 farmers' markets in the small state of Rhode Island, and much to the joy of locals seeking fresh produce, they're just starting to open.

The Hope Street market at Lippitt Park is one of the biggest and most diverse in Providence. It draws dozens of vendors including fruit and vegetable farms, dairies and cheese shops, bakeries, meat and egg producers, a juice truck, and more. The market runs twice a week, Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

When I visited on opening Saturday, it was quite a scene.

A dozen customers lined up at Schartner Farms for asparagus and rhubarb. People grabbed a sparkling water or orange soda from Rhode Island-based Yacht Club Sodas to stay hydrated. Absalona Greenhouse offered greens, lettuces, herbs, and flowers of all varieties, making for some seriously delicious salads.

My purchases? Kale and great mesclun mix from Cooks Valley Farm and a loaf of cheesy bread from the ever-popular Seven Stars Bakery.

Families picnicked on the grass; students chatted and sipped iced coffee. Farmers smiled, fielding questions and observing the constant stream of customers. I biked away at noon, when the market officially ends, but there was no sign of any ebb in the shopping, eating, and happy-making that filled the small park. The Hope Street market is not just a place to buy local food and support small farms. It has also become a hub for the community to gather, share news, and celebrate seasonal eating.

More photos in the slideshow »

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work is also featured in Rhode Island Monthly magazine.