Posts tagged ‘Rhode Island’
It’s the birthday of the USA, and it’s one year since I launched the Green Zone website.
What a difference a year makes. We have a new president, and there’s a thriving vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House.
New gardens are sprouting everywhere! A brand-new community garden in Davis Park, a new garden in the works for the Davey Lopes Rec Center in South Providence, and a bunch of new school gardens here and there. And so many first-time backyard growers, too.
In the Summit neighborhood, there are flowerboxes full of vegetables on porches, and so many people have dug up their front lawns to plant ornamentals or grow their own food.
I spied this brand new neighborhood garden in Mt. Hope (3 top photos). Neighbors have taken over an empty lot. Guerrilla gardeners? Dig the ankle high dry-laid stone wall and the badminton court, not to mention the used-tire composter. And not far away is the MLK School Garden, which looks on target to harvest A LOT of delicious vegetables.
On this Independence Day, get independent. In a pot or in a plot, grow your own food.
Tonight catch a screening of “Taking Root, the Vision of Wangari Maathai.” It’s the kick-off for a new community garden at the Davey Lopes Rec. Center in Providence.
The invitation says: “This powerful documentary film tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who is internationally recognized for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya Africa with women whose simple act of planting trees and food gardens grew into a nationwide movement to protect human rights and defend democracy.”
The event is free, and there will be refreshments (home-made ginger beer, lemonade, farm-fresh salad, and apples).
Where: Davey Lopes Recreation Center, 227 Dudley St, Providence
It rains so much in Providence nowadays that I spend more time with the newspapers and online and less time in the garden. First the newspaper…
Yesterday, the Providence Journal ran a story on recession gardens. Southside Community Land Trust is expanding the Prairie Street Community Garden to accommodate more plots, and URI Master Gardener Coordinator Roseanne Sherry is hearing from more and more new gardeners this year. And the trend is national, with seed companies reporting record sales in 2009.
The last upsurge in food gardening took place during the economic crises of the 1970s. In Rhode Island, Bristol legislator Gaetano Parella put forth four resolutions to make underused local, state, and federal land available for individual gardens in 1974. Reflecting on the victory gardens of WWII, Parella said there was “no reason why our citizens cannot do the same thing now to fight rising food costs.” A ProJo article from the same year described “Rhode Island’s growing army of backyard farmers.”
Now that you have read this newspaper article (online, perhaps), try googling “recession garden,” “recession gardens,” or “recession gardening.” Expect this term to start competing with victory garden/s/ing.
Speaking of googling, if you enter “Victory Garden,” the first entry to pop up is PBS’s television show. “The Victory Garden” began broadcasting in the mid-1970s; it was America’s first gardening program on tv. The goal was to encourage Americans to fight the recession by growing their own food. By using the name “Victory Garden,” the creators evoked nostalgia for the can-do spirit of wartime gardens. And I suppose that in 1975, nobody wanted to watch a show called “The Recession Garden.”
In 2009, we just might.
Today’s NYTimes food section has a great story on fruit foraging. It’s set largely in California where there is more fruit to forage…lemons, peaches, plums, cherries…sigh. And by foraging, the reporter is talking about harvesting fruit in public spaces–though what’s technically public space is up for interpretation.
The fruit foragers she profiles have varying approaches. Some develop networks of fruit tree owners who share with each other. Others act on impulse: grab a peach and wolf it down on the spot.
Here in Rhode Island, fruit foragers are more likely to seek out apple or cherry trees, or learn where where wild berries grow. The blueberry bush near the beach, the blackberry patch in the woods, etc. Someone told me about a bountiful stand of raspberry plants growing near a playing field at a local school, but I never could find it. I’ll have to take another ramble through the campus in a few weeks. Maybe this will be the year.
My vacation from Prov became a vacation from blog. And then working in my garden became a vacation from the blog. To get back in the grind and on the grid, I want to let you know about:
Fox Point Community Garden seed swap
Sunday June 7th from 4-5:30pm
Gano Street Park, Providence
Says Christie, the garden coordinator: “come by and swap some seeds, share some advice, and get to know your fellow gardeners.”
Sounds good to me…I just dug up some irises. Plus I have some volunteer tomatoes and dill, and some other flowers from seed to share. On the lookout for parsley, cilantro, and what have you. I don’t have a plot at Fox Point, but like many community gardens, the gardeners there are tremendously proud of their work, delighted to give tours, and happy to connect with other local gardeners. See you there!
Apologies to KISS…
Yesterday, I went to a meeting for Providence’s Urban Agriculture Task Force. Launched 4-5 years ago, it’s a confederation of state, local, non-profit, and individual representatives. Some of the projects initiated and/or completed by members include:
- installing new community gardens around the city, including sites at Sessions St. Park, Early St, Davis Park, Pearl St., Riverside Park, and more
- introducing urban agriculture in community planning meetings, the Mayor’s Green plan, and the Providence Comprehensive Plan
- launching a citywide Community Gardens Network
- developing strategies to integrate food gardens with affordable housing
- holding 50-mile meals at Mount Hope Farm, Local 121, and Providence College
- creating the RI Farm To School Project to connect local farms with school lunch programs
- planning an edible landscape (an orchard!) in Locust Grove Cemetery
- working with the RI Dept of Health and Statewide Planning to ensure that urban agriculture is in local comprehensive plans
- preparing a series of reports on Providence Urban Agriculture
Amazing projects in Providence and beyond. And more to come. If you want to get involved, contact the UATF via Southside Community Land Trust.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by Firehouse 13 last night for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden and the first-ever Urban Ag Spring Start Party.
The talks and discussion went over really well, and the seed-swapping table was hopping. I got a chance to connect with gardeners, historians, and gardening historians from all over.
A spring party was a great outlet for gardeners with seeds, plants, and stories to share. As RI’s food gardening network continues to grow, imagine another garden event this fall?!?!?!?!
All the vegetables are ready to rumble at Firehouse 13 (41 Central Street, Providence).
Start at 5:30pm with Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden. Check out 3 presentations on past and present gardening movements, and join the discussion.
Then at 7:30pm, it’s the first-ever Urban Ag Spring Start Party. Seed-swapping, plant-swapping, sharing info about garden and green groups, meeting other gardeners, etc. It’s a potluck, so bring a dish…as well as your seeds and plants to share.
Let’s start the spring together!
On Saturday (April 25), the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission will host the Annual RI Statewide Historic Preservation Conference at the University of Rhode Island. This year’s event, “Preservation Steps Out,” will focus on preserving historic outdoor spaces, like farms, woodlands, conservation land, seashores, riverfronts, parks, village crossroads, and the like.
A lot of the day is devoted to issues relating to historic farms, from agritourism to farmers’ markets to barn preservation. I’m especially looking forward to the keynote speech by Steve Taylor, a dairy farmer and writer who formerly served as the Commissioner of Agriculture, Markets & Food for New Hampshire. His talk is called “Cows, Countryside, and Community: Can the Working Landscape of Rural New England Be Saved?“ Today’s Providence Journal features Bill Van Siclen’s conversation with Taylor.
And many other local agriculture people and places will participate: farmer and Senator V. Susan Sosnowski, Ken Ayars (RI-DEM), Stu Nunnery (RICAPE), Pat McNiff (Casey Farm), Nancy Parker Wilson (Greenvale Vineyards), Jeffrey Farrell (Sunset Farm), and Jim Crothers (South County Museum), to name a few.
Through Green Zone and at RIHPHC, I’ve spent the past year learning about the local food/farm/garden/land communities. The historic preservation perspective is complementary but different; preservationists often see farms as historic places with historic buildings and outbuildings, fields, ponds, woodlots, and stone walls. Preserving a sense of place while working the landscape is the particular challenge of the New England farmer.
See you for tours, sessions, talks, and networking at URI on Saturday. The conference costs $40, and registration is available on-site. >>more info<<
Check out the updated page for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden, a presentation on Victory Gardens, the Women’s Land Army of America, and how/why gardeners are growing their own food today. The event takes place on Tues., May 5, starting at 5:30pm at Firehouse 13, 41 Central St. in Providence.
A plan is stirring to hold an Urban Agriculture Spring Start Party afterwards. This will include seed/plant swapping, exchanging ideas, food, music, and kicking off the garden season together.
Community gardeners, backyard gardeners, local foodies, green folks, farmers, teachers, kids. . .can you help out with this emerging event? Contact me at szurier at wesleyan dot edu or leave a comment, and I’ll be in touch.