Below-market leases enable new farmers to start businesses
According to the USDA, farmland in Rhode Island is more expensive than any other state in the country. This makes it extremely difficult for beginning farmers to buy land here.
SCLT works with partners around the state to connect land seekers with landowners who want to lease or sell their farmland and keep it from being developed. Project partners include: Young Farmer Network, The Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island, RI Department of Environmental Management, RI Land Trust Council, Northern RI Conservation District ,and Land for Good.
We match parcels with first-generation and immigrant farmers so they can grow healthy (chemical-free) produce for wholesale and retail outlets, including our own aggregation program, as well as farmers markets, restaurants, and CSAs. Parcels may be managed by one or more farmers or comprise several farm enterprises. By offering affordable leases on farmland, SCLT enables a growing number of people t0 make a living while meeting the growing demand for locally grown, fresh produce.
Urban Edge Farm comprises 50 acres in Western Cranston, RI, roughly 30 of which are now cultivated. SCLT manages the farm under a long-term lease with the RI Department of Environmental Management. Seventeen farms operate at UEF, employing about 40 people, most of whom are immigrants and refugees from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Dominican Republic. Farmers share farm equipment, infrastructure, and other agricultural resources, and receive technical assistance from SCLT staff. You can read more about it here.
Good Earth Farm (GEF) is our latest land acquisition. This 20-acre property is located a short distance from Urban Edge Farm in Western Cranston. Like UEF, it hosts a variety of small-scale farmers who mostly began growing food on SCLT’s urban community gardens before moving onto larger parcels. Six farm operations, four operated by Hmong farmers and two by East African farmers, are now based at GEF. The farm has two heated greenhouses, automated irrigation, two wells, dry storage, retail space, and other shared infrastructure. Farmers sell their produce to farmers markets and wholesale outlets through SCLT’s Aggregation Program. They host a farm and garden retail operation and fresh produce market on weekends in the late spring and summer.
For more information about the RI Farmland Access Program, please e-mail Matt Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to any urban farmers lease plots in our community gardens, waiting for farmland to open up so they can expand their businesses. SCLT’s Land Fund enables us to renovate abandoned urban parcels and clear undeveloped acreage at UEF for these farmers. Please donate, if you can, to support this Fund.