NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — A program to buy local farmland is drawing both fear and hope among Rhode Island’s farm community, and has grabbed the attention of conservative activists, who call it a "government land grab."
PROVIDENCE — When first-generation farmer Tess Brown-Lavoie tried to buy a vacant lot on the city’s West Side in 2011, to start growing her own produce, she was astounded by the difficulty of the process. The land was costly, and unexpected additional expenses, such as raised beds to protect produce from the city’s lead-contaminated soil, put a further dent in her budget.
CRANSTON, R.I. — It was there that Jamhal Latimer learned about the Southside Community Land Trust’s apprentice program. He filled out the application, but decided he would start showing up at Urban Edge Farm in early April before the application was even due. Latimer was eventually accepted into the program, but he was already a part of the crew.
SEEKONK, Mass. — From Aug. 8-13, the all-female crew at Sidewalk Ends Farm will host its first summer farm camp. The one-week session is designed for eight high-school girls from Providence public schools.
PROVIDENCE — The “Rhode Island Food Assessment: 2011-2016 and Beyond” reviews the current food landscape in Rhode Island, highlighting significant growth in local agriculture since the council’s 2011 assessment and citing the need to focus on food security and other gaps to increase the state’s economic vitality.
CRANSTON, R.I. — David Kuma set out to grow more of his own food as he learned about industrial agriculture and all of its poisons. His father, a biologist, always had a garden growing up, so an innate knowledge of plants followed his curiosity.
PROVIDENCE — During its annual Ag Day event at the Statehouse on May 10, the Department of Environmental Management awarded more than $200,000 for 16 farm and aquaculture initiatives ranging from composting services to accessing ice.
Is local food about location or practices? After all, monoculture farms and factory farming are local to someone. A rural egg farmer may be operating less than a mile from your home, but the farm keeps its hens in battery cages. The business is certainly a local food producer, but some consumers may be against the farm’s practice of keeping hens in crowded cages.
AQUIDNECK ISLAND, R.I. — There’s a small food revolution happening here, thanks in part to a newly formed organization called Aquidneck Community Table. The initiative was born when three existing groups came together to share in the same mission of strengthening the island’s food system.
A recent study shows most exiting farmers may have no one to take over the farm. Older farmers throughout southern New England want to see their land remain in farming, yet are worried about their ability to retire and find a younger farmer who can afford to buy the land.
The local food movement, through no fault of its own, is now defined by words and phrases that aren’t as friendly as they sound, or even accurate. Advertising agencies, multinational corporations and greed have stolen the meaning of “local.”