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Youth staff get a taste of garlic farming

SCLT youth bundling garlic at Urban Edge Farm in Cranston.
Sharon Damore grew 26 varieties of garlic this past year – more than 4,000 bulbs – at Urban Edge Farm.

Sharon Damore grew 26 varieties of garlic this past year – more than 4,000 bulbs – at Urban Edge Farm.

As part of their food system training, SCLT’s high school youth staff work alongside farmers growing at SCLT properties in Cranston and Hope, RI. There, they weed, harvest, and learn how these small business owners help supply their farmers market customers and food insecure Rhode Islanders through SCLT’s Produce Aggregation partners.

This summer, youth staff have spent two or three shifts per week helping vegetable and herb growers, many of whom they’ve gotten to know through previous farm shifts. But they had yet to meet the Garlic Mistress.

In late July, they worked with Sharon Damore, aka the Garlic Mistress, at Urban Edge Farm. There, they learned, she grows 26 varieties of this pungent and popular member of the Allium family. (They also learned that her purple garlic was used to decorate the set for the HBO series about Julia Child recently, but that’s another story.)

“The youth tied up bunches of five and ten garlic stalks, which saved me a couple of hours’ time,” Sharon recalls. “They were very good.”

She had planted over 4,000 bulbs this season on her half-acre at UEF, including two new hard neck varieties: Gypsy Rose and Leningrad. “I’m dying to try them,” she says, but will have to wait until they’re done curing, Gypsy Rose is supposed to have a sweet and pungent flavor, while Leningrad’s is milder and slightly spicy.

“Little by little, I keep trying new varieties,” she says.

Sharon began growing in her backyard around the time she retired from a career in the financial sector. She expanded to grow on two small parcels in North Providence before learning about UEF in 2018.

“I love my little plot up there,” she says.

Sharon sells the garlic bundles at Pezza Farm, in Johnston. She also sells them directly to individual customers, arrangements she makes the old-fashioned way, over the phone. You can reach her at (401) 258-3859,

You can learn more about her business at www.thegarlicmistress.com

– Jenny Boone

Grants & Communications Manager


Top photo caption: Food System Intern Riley Schornak, on left, along with Alicia, James (seated), and Joseph. On right, SCLT’s Education Director, Chandelle Wilson.