Honor System Stands of South County

A field guide to everything from bread to blooms

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Drive along Moonstone Beach Road in Matunuck and if you’re lucky, a flag will be flying from a wood post wrapped in flowers, signaling that Daddy’s Bread is open for business. This is no ordinary storefront, and neither is the bread. Founded in 1975 by Everett J. Hopkins as a hobby, the retail space is actually an honor system shack on the family property. Stocked with loaves of artisanal breads now made by Hopkins’ daughter Jennifer Hopkins Manzo, loaves are $7 each – $8 for the Blueberry Apple Cinnamon – and are all processed using only a single mixer. “You will be able to pronounce all ingredients in our breads, and you will know what you’re putting in your body,” declares Manzo. The P.D.G. (parmesan, garlic, dill) is revered, and judging by how quickly the nearly 20 varieties disappear – from Anadama to Jonny Cake to Watercress Herb – they’re all in demand.

If you’re a fan of farm-to-table, it doesn’t get any fresher than a self-service stand where what you see is what you get. By patronizing these old-timey spots you are not just helping the local economy but a family – directly, and it’s all built on trust. Take to the open road to discover modest carts, stands, and even tented tables with fresh-picked, homespun offerings using the honor system model. This means that goods are presented with posted prices and generally there is a cash box or covered canister nearby for the original self-serve transaction, with many now also accepting payment via the Venmo app. Often found along rural routes but sometimes at the edges of suburban driveways, these humble cottage industries are mostly run as side-hustles and seasonally – meaning they’re not consistently stocked – so happening upon one filled and ready is a worthy prize in its own right.

Near URI in West Kingston, Pasquale’s honor system farmstand blossomed during the pandemic, offering essentials to neighbors in a safe outdoor space, and has since become a tucked-away hub for locals in the know. Along the woodsy stretch of Usquepaugh Road, watch for the quaint lean-to shed with large rustic letters. While the outside is lush with plant starters and farm-fresh produce, owners Frank, Mark, and Lauren Pasquale have outfitted the inside of this former Rhody Gem (October 2020) to display wares from area makers, from woodworking pieces by a high school crafter to all-natural soaps from Wakefield’s Watson Wax.

Julie Beebe, who owns Yes! Gallery in Wickford Village with husband Palmer, explains that bottles of their own Beebe’s Bees raw local honey, had been a best seller for years. When their shop was ordered to close in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, Beebe experimented with adding a cash box to the sidewalk display. “People are so honest in our little village, and it worked beautifully!” says Beebe, who notes that the honey sold at the stand paid for their family’s groceries the entire time the shop was closed. Says Beebe, “It’s easy for our local honey fans to get their fix on the go!”

“Operating on the honor system keeps people’s minds in check,” says Manzo. “Think, add, think again, do the right thing. If they do not do the right thing, in 20 years the next ‘Daddy’ will get a note that states ‘20 years ago I stole from you. I am sorry,’ with a $20 bill attached just as I did. I gave the note and the cash to my dad. He smiled and I felt in that moment, he thought to himself, ‘my job is done here, it’s your turn to teach’.”

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