Something odd caught my attention recently while driving down Roosevelt Avenue in Pawtucket. A pergola-type pavilion had sprouted up in the parking lot next to a church and a YMCA. Turns out, I was looking at part of an accessible community garden that was built by a unique partnership of community members, business leaders and architecture students who were brought together by vision and need.
The garden, designed and built by RISD students, consists of raised beds that are framed by solid beams, making it possible to weed and tend plantings without back breaking bending, or kneeling on the ground. These gardens will afford members of the nearby church and residents of local senior housing a productive hobby and a chance to meet and work with other like-minded neighbors. Youngsters from the “Y” will get hands-on gardening experience while connecting with the earth and soil.
Urban and co-operative gardens are not new, but the recent trend to bring gardening and its fresh produce back into consumers’ hands is increasing in popularity, purpose and extent. City dwellers and suburbanites are finding that a commitment to gardening reaps benefits even greater than the harvest itself. Plus, it’s a terrific project for parents and kids of almost any age to spend time together.
Another community farming opportunity is Franklin Farm in Cumberland. Located on a bucolic section of Abbot Run Valley Road, Franklin Farm was primarily a dairy farm going back many generations. Active dairying ceased some years ago, though mowing hay continued. The property was given over to the Town of Cumberland and is now a place where school children, civic groups and other volunteers grow produce destined for the Rhode Island Food Bank and community kitchens elsewhere in the state.
There are many such farms and gardens in the area – one is sure to be near you. Take advantage of it. Your involvement will be welcomed and your summer vacation will be enriched.
These websites provide more information about the gardens mentioned here, and will be helpful in choosing the farming experience that’s right for your family this summer.
Grace Note Farm, Burrillville
Hi-on-a-Hill Herb Farm, North Smithfield