What do you do when you have a successful outdoor library program every summer? If you are the East Providence Public Library, you find a way to use your beautiful outdoor space in a new and exciting way. You apply for a grant and even when you don’t get it, you are not dismayed. Your passion for the project - a Farmers’ Market - drives you forward. Naturally, this project will meet the library’s programming goal of building and strengthening community. At best, the project will be embraced by patrons and residents, city officials, and library staff, and it will be sustainable for years to come. At worst, it will be a 12-week learning experience, full of fun, challenges, hard work, and a fresh, new network of farmers, producers, businessmen, musicians, artists, educators, journalists, photographers, farmers’ market supporters and customers who learn about the library and its vital role in the community.
We are pleased to announce that the Weaver Library Farmers’ Market will open for its fifth year on June 21, 2018. For the next twelve weeks, hundreds of people will arrive on the Weaver lawn to purchase fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood, eggs, balsamic vinegar, baked goods, granola, plants, flowers, honey, and other goods from local farms and small businesses. Each Thursday, customers of all ages will shop to live music and, on many market days, enjoy special children’s programming such as concerts, arts and crafts, pop-up-play, ice cream socials, and special guests such as Max Man, RI’s recycling hero. It makes for a lively afternoon in the neighborhood and the library is at the center of it.
When we opened the market in 2013, some asked why a library would consider a role in the local food system. Our response was simple. Why wouldn’t a library want to use one of its beautiful, natural resources to provide the community with fresh, wholesome food, and support farmers and small businesses in the process? Why wouldn’t a library want to reconnect its community with the food they eat and, especially, the people who grow it? It is our belief that Farmers Markets, like libraries, are about the people. Both engage folks in learning, interacting, and enjoying new experiences. Both create relationships as do libraries. Finally, Farmers’ Markets may be seasonal, but they speak to the future of our communities and the state as do libraries!
We are librarians and stories still mean everything to us. When customers and vendors tell us that they love the community spirit present at the market or millennials praise the market’s “vibe”, we beam. One young couple, who often travel out of state for work, said that the library and the Farmers’ Market gave them a needed sense of home. Another woman related how proud she was that her hometown finally had a Farmers’ Market. It gave her one more reason to come to the library.
While there are many social benefits to a library Farmers’ Market, being able to offer SNAP/EBT, Bonus Bucks, WIC, and Senior Coupons, has allowed us to serve all members of our community. The library could not have done this on its own however. Grant funds from the fabulous Farm Fresh RI have made this possible.
Assistant Library Director, East Providence Public Library
Weaver Library Farmers Market Facebook Page