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Giving Tuesday match supports major farm expansion project

The Good Earth, cranston

This year, a generous donor is funding a dollar-for-dollar match towards the purchase of The Good Earth Farm in western Cranston.

In response to the growing need for more land from new and beginning local farmers, SCLT convened a statewide Land Access Work Group in 2017 to help pair these farmers with rapidly disappearing rural properties. Through a grant from the USDA, we dedicated a staff person to facilitate the work group on behalf of those selling their produce in South Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls.

At a work group meeting, officials from the State of RI Division of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Management – Ken Ayers and Michelle Sheehan – informed us that the The Good Earth Organic Farm and Garden Center in western Cranston might be available. Its owners, John and Joyce Holscher, had been thinking of retiring after nearly 20 years of operating the state’s only certified organic garden center. Ideally, they wanted to sell their property to someone who would keep it in organic production.

SCLT staff were eager to explore this promising opportunity. During conversations with the Holschers, we agreed that a handful of farmers growing at other SCLT sites could rent the couple’s greenhouse, hoop houses and fields in western Cranston in early 2020.

The arrangement with The Good Earth was an all-around success. (You can read about it here.)

SCLT is now hoping to raise the funds to buy the 9 acres of land, farm infrastructure and retail operation. Our agreement includes a life estate whereby the couple will continue to live in their home for as long as they like. Our goal is to protect this well-cared for land and enabling more farmers to grow food for Rhode Islanders with limited access to fresh produce.

Supporters of the project can donate here anytime, indicating their wish to help fund the purchase of The Good Earth property.