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University News

New Jewelry District plaza holds first farmers market

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 5, 2012

The University's public plaza in the Jewelry District, across the street from Alpert Medical School, is now home to a farmers market.

The Brown-commissioned Ship Street Square – a public plaza envisioned as a social hub for Providence’s Jewelry District – hosted Tuesday the first of five farmers markets to be held this spring.

The plaza and outdoor event space – which began construction in September and opened in January – is the most recent component of the Alpert Medical School’s $2 million streetscape improvement efforts that have also included widened sidewalks and new trees. The University has also made safety additions to the area, including a new police substation, blue light phones and security cameras.

“Brown really cares about being a good neighbor,” said Jennifer Braga, government relations and community affairs liaison. The University commissioned the square to provide a “welcoming and vibrant outside space” for the entire community.

“It’s an urban space,” said Michael McCormick, assistant vice president for planning, design and construction. To make the square stand out from other parks and green spaces in the area, Jerry Van Eyck, architect of the Melk landscape design firm, used sustainably harvested South American hardwood to serve as the surface of the space.

“It’s a really interesting design,” McCormick said. “It was a lot of fun to work with him.”

Around the time of the plaza’s opening in January, Brown Dining Services began collaborating with Farm Fresh Rhode Island to develop plans for the farmers market.

“We are pleased with the result and the variety of wonderful local offerings,” wrote Peter Rossi, associate director of Dining Services, in an email to The Herald.

The market was so well-attended on its first day that some vendors ran out of merchandise before its 2 p.m. closing, Braga said.

The Ship Street Square market is the second location operated by Farm Fresh Rhode Island on Brown’s campus, the first location being on Wriston Quadrangle. It features baked goods from nearby cafe Olga’s Cup and Saucer, as well as items from Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ and Mijos Tacos.

Members of the Brown community and local organizations can also reserve the space for private events.

It can be used at no cost, as long as organizations leave it clean and undamaged. For an additional fee, the University can provide custodial and event staff. 

“It’s available for a wide variety of events,” Braga said, adding that the space will ideally serve for anything from yoga and tai chi classes to performances and street art. “It’s sort of a blank canvas.”

The spot has already been reserved to host the Jewelry District Association’s annual post-neighborhood-cleanup celebration and may hold additional farmers markets depending on the success of those currently scheduled.

McCormick hopes the square – much like the Walk running from Lincoln Field to Pembroke campus – will provide a centered, open space for future development. “This is just one piece of what we’re hoping is a much larger improvement in the Jewelry District.”

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