Manton Avenue Lot Joins Urban Ag Movement

By KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Construction of the Manton Bend Community Farm, a community garden on Manton Avenue, is nearing completion. The garden is part of the city’s “Lots of Hope” program, a partnership between the city and Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) through which undeveloped, city-owned lots are leased to SCLT so they can be transformed into community gardens and urban farms. The Manton Bend project will be the first Lots of Hope garden completed.

“We have been working on this project for a couple of months now,” said Jared Holloway of Casa Buena Builders, a private contractor hired to build the Manton Bend garden. “This site should be functional by the end of the week.”

In addition to the contracted workers, volunteers and SCLT staff have also participated in the garden’s construction.

The Manton Bend Community Farm stretches across five undeveloped city lots. The lots are adjacent to a former landfill, but according to Margaret DeVos, SCLT’s executive director, the soil has been tested for heavy metals and is acceptable for community gardening. DeVos also noted that all gardening will happen in raised beds.

Holloway and his team have already built 12 raised beds, which will be available to community members, and some 40 mounded beds, which will be farmed by African Alliance of Rhode Island, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of African refugees in Rhode Island. The produce grown by the alliance — generally staples from the farmers’ countries of origin — will be sold at local farmers markets, including the Armory Farmers Market at Dexter Training Ground.

Holloway said the urban farm will include a handicap accessible path and two handicap accessible raised beds.

When ecoRI News recently visited the site, Holloway’s team was finishing construction of two shelters in the sweltering heat. According to Holloway, one shelter will be a washing station for fruits and vegetables and the other will be a picnic area. A fence still needs to be erected around the perimeter of the garden.

“It’s fun to do,” Holloway said of the garden construction. “It’s a little different than what we normally do, but it’s nice to do something that the community is going to enjoy.”

For more information or to learn about reserving a plot at the Manton Bend Community Farm, call 401-273-9419 and ask for Cindy or send an e-mail to cindy@southsideclt.org.