COASTAL HALLOWEEN MARKET – October 29, 2016
Thanks for joining our vendors in costume for our Halloween Market! It was a “Bee-utiful” fun filled day at Casey Farm for our last outdoor market of the season
Our Costume Contest Winners (above) – Zephyr Farm!!!
BEHIND THE SCENES TOUR OF SEVEN STARS BAKERY – March 2, 2016
Coastal Growers took a special behind the scenes tour of Seven Stars Bakery’s production facility located at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI.
What did we find? Quite an impressive operation! Immaculately clean and efficiently run. Owners Lynn and Jim Williams have grown from a small bakery and retail shop on Hope Street to three Bakeries and a substantial production facility.
Our tour began with owner Lynn Williams recalling their first year of operation. Jim did all of the baking throughout the night and Lynn ran the retail shop during the day. They were so tight on space that they used to turn the dining area into production space when they closed for the day and then reset each morning. “When we opened Seven Stars in January 2001, we had a simple mission: Bake great stuff and treat our customers well.” Lynn and Jim’s hard work paid off when in 2006 they were able to expand into a larger production facility. Hope Artiste Village now boasts an eclectic mix of artists and entrepreneurs in one of the largest mill restoration projects in Rhode Island. When Lynn and Jim moved into the space in 2006, they were the only tenant in the building. Now that they had a larger space to work with they needed additional satellight bakeries to support the expanded production. Their next purchase was in West Providence, a Model T Dealership on Broadway that they converted into a bakery and a third store on Rumford St. located in the historic Rumford Baking Powder factory.
Today, Seven Stars has a team of over 80 dedicated, hard working people, sells to Whole Foods Markets in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, several Providence markets, 5 Farmers Markets; and their production facility operates 24 hours a day.
Even though their business has grown significantly, Lynn and Jim will never forget their grass roots-baking background. A year ago they bought their very own Stone Mill where they now process all of their own organic whole grain flours. “We maxed out the mill almost as soon as we bought it” says owner Jim Williams. The mill has two 35 pound stones that can grind up to 250 pounds of flour per day. They use this flour in all of their whole grain breads and still purchase durum and white flours.
What’s in Seven Star’s Future? In addition to Jim’s Back Door Bread Project (where he personally mills and bakes artisan breads using 100% organic, whole grains and sells them out of the production facility every Saturday) he has also purchased a larger stone mill. The new mill has two 700 pound stones that will be able to grind 250 lbs of grain per hour! Lynn is also looking at the possibility of adding more retail stores in the future.
CLICK HERE for more info, Locations and Hours of Operation
The Mixing Room…
The Shaping Room…
The Proofing Room…
Baking…3 Types of Ovens!
RI Independent Newspaper Article about Rhode Island Winter Farmers Markets!
In the market for local goods?
INDOOR FARMERS MARKETS IN NORTH KINGSTOWN AND PEACE DALE OFFER FRESH FOODS THROUGHOUT WINTER
By Melanie Saunders / Special to The Independent | Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015
If there were ever a time when Rhode Islanders thought farmers markets in the wintertime were lacking diversity, those notions are now things of the past, thanks to Coastal Growers Winter Market in the Dye House behind the Lafayette Mill in North Kingstown and South Kingstown Winter Farmers Market in the Peace Dale Mill Complex.
After such a harsh winter last year, many vendors – especially farmers – are excited to be back in such thriving winter markets, which both offer an array of items from vegetables to honey to woolen mittens, now through April.
The markets accept SNAP, EBT and WIC, as they have in the past, and some vendors have credit card capabilities. This year though, the markets now offer Bonus Bucks, or extra coins market visitors who have EBT and WIC cards can use to purchase fruits and vegetables. Customers can receive $2 in free Bonus Bucks for every $5 spent with EBT. Market visitors swipe their cards at the welcome table.
The Bonus Bucks implementation has helped to open the market to a new, well, market, and encouraged customers to consume more fruits and vegetables.
“A lot of people have the misconception there are no veggies in the wintertime, but it’s not true,” said Déja Hart, Coastal Growers’ market manager. In fact, that number has probably increased because of the addition of greenhouses on many vendors’ farms, she said, which makes weekly meal shopping easy for customers.
Coastal Growers Market is a Class A market, which, Hart said, is one that only allows vendors who produce, make or grow the items they sell in the state where the market is located. The winter market’s rules state that “It is absolutely against the policy of the association for any member, besides the CGM, to purchase items and resell them at market.”
This policy keeps cash flow in the state. Since the market’s options for vendors are all here, a democratic system is in place to choose new vendors. When an application is sent in, the board of directors reviews it and puts forth its recommendation, then it is put to a vote of existing vendors.
“Of course there’s competition,” said Steve Demeter, owner and operator of The Coffee Guy, who is spending his sixth winter at the Coastal Growers market. “But we all look out for each other and there’s enough diversity that each winter market has been more positive.”
The North Kingstown market has 18 full-time vendors, but up to 23 vendors, which include artisan vendors, who come in on a rotating basis. During the summer markets, that number is closer to 35.
South Kingstown Winter Farmers Market is in its seventh year and was established to try to reduce wholesaling during the off season, something that brings less income to farmers because of decreased unit prices. Steve Gardiner, volunteer market manager who oversees vendor spaces, said that vendors have told him establishing a winter market saved their farm. “It takes the pressure off everyone who has [had to resort to wholesaling],” he said.
The market at the Peace Dale Mill Complex can draw anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people – and at times, around 7,000 close to Thanksgiving, Gardiner said.
Both markets have waiting lists of potential vendors, but also have vendors who have been loyal since the markets opened. Linda Blaney, owner of Mizpah Farm in Exeter, has sold greenery decorations, antiques and other knickknacks since the winter market began. On a weekend in December, she was selling Christmas wreaths made from greens she foraged from local evergreens.
“I couldn’t imagine why people wouldn’t want to shop locally,” Blaney said. “The food is not only fresher, but it’s supporting local businesses.” A self-proclaimed “grower-chef,” she has been working on a new endeavor farming kelp in Point Judith that she hopes to bring to the market, along with expertise on how to use it, to help customers.
Visitors to both markets will likely come across items they have no experience cooking or baking with, which is where the vendor’s expertise comes in. For example, Seven Stars Bakery, located in Providence, recently began milling flour in house and occasionally has selections for customers of the North Kingstown market. (Freshly milled flours normally can’t be found in grocery stores because they go rancid sooner than typical store-bought brands, according to Allison Nelson, a Seven Stars employee.)
Gardiner said many customers are confused when they find Brussels sprouts still on the stalks at the market, as they’ve never seen them in their “natural” state. But the word “natural” is thrown around a bit too often, he said, which results in mislabeling. As a farmer himself, the food his farm produces may not be certified organic, but he always makes sure to use sprays that don’t kill all insects, especially ones that are beneficial to the plant.
The question, “Is this organic?” comes up often, he said. In most cases, the products are not. But it opens up the discussion about method. For example, Bill and Linda Browning of Browning Homestead Farm in Matunuck pride themselves on their livestock raising methods and do not give their animals hormones, antibiotics or any other medications, nor do they force-wean any calf, lamb or piglet.
Their animals, which include a rare breed of pig called American Guinea Hog, are all fed food grown on the homestead grounds. “Part of the responsibility of having a heritage breed is to sustain it and sustain the farm,” Linda said. “We care about the quality of the land.”
“Quality” is a word that is frequently heard around vendor stands, whether in discussions about the land where vegetables grow, the textiles, meat or the taste of locally grown celery. Even in the winter, the offerings are plentiful.
Coastal Growers Halloween Market ~ Vendor Costume Contest!
Barden Family Orchard ~ The Hulk!
Casey Farm ~ Peter Pan
Zephyr Farm ~ Wizard of Oz
Reynolds Barn ~ Nadine the Zebra Goat
Bravo Woodfired Pizza ~ Telletubbies
Pat’s Pastured ~ Bacon & Eggs
Meri ~ The “Baseball Bat”