Since SCLT’s founding nearly 40 years ago, staff have focused on providing access to land for people who want to grow food. This started with community gardens in Providence, but now includes large urban and rural farms in multiple Rhode Island communities.
SCLT has recently accelerated its work with RI’s Department of Environmental Management, land trusts throughout the state and other agricultural organizations through the Land Access Working Group (LAWG). The purpose of the LAWG is to make more land available to commercial farmers in the area. Since its inception, LAWG has successfully assisted an array of developing agricultural businesses to locate space.
In the southwestern corner of the state, three agricultural businesses now have room to grow, including a vegetable grower, a flower grower and a composting operation. Jennifer Fusco, the Executive Director of Westerly Land Trust, worked closely with SCLT to post an RFP, host an open house and develop leases for the three businesses now placed on Westerly’s open space.
Closer to Providence, SCLT will be leasing space this season at Urban Edge Farm in Cranston to five new farmers, including three businesses entirely run by growers who’ve “graduated out” of SCLT community gardens. This is possible because of the work to prepare new fields at Urban Edge with the help of AmeriCorps’s National Civilian Community Corps, as well as significant grants for infrastructure repairs and expansion from the Champlin Foundation and RI DEM.