Archive for May, 2011

May 27, 2011

Images from the Plant Sale

We wanted to share with you this selection of photos taken two weeks ago at the Plant Sale by our friend Rupert Whiteley, a professional photographer based in Providence. He really managed to capture the energy and excitement of that weekend as people and families from all over the region converged on City Farm. There were so many smiles exchanged as they poked through the plants and talked with neighbors, Community Land Trust staff, and volunteers before carrying away trays of green seedlings for their gardens. We hope you enjoy!

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May 26, 2011

Thank You from Rich, the City Farm Steward

Hello out there! It’s good to know that we have some readers.

This little note is to say thank you for supporting the Community Land Trust at our annual Plant Sale. It was a pretty awesome weekend of hanging out with an ever-growing garden community. It’s so nice to know that our plants are going to good homes.

Here are a couple of photos I took recently. The first shows the greenhouse the morning of the Plant Sale. It was taken before all these starts were marched out to take over Linden Street.

This second photo was taken in the days following the Plant Sale, when the greenhouse was pretty empty. While it was cleared out, we took the opportunity to level the ground under the landscaping fabric and replace some the the ripped and torn pieces. It’s going to be a lot easier to walk around without tripping over rutted earth or potted plants. It looks pretty nice now with hot peppers and bitter melon eggplant growing in large pots.

In other news, the farmers’ market season starts next week for City Farm! We’ll be at the Armory Park market on Thursday evenings from 4:00 to 7:00 and at the Lippitt Park market on Saturday mornings from 9:00 to 12:30. Come by and keep me posted on how your plants are doing! I hope you have a great growing season.


May 25, 2011

Involving Kids in Our Communities

This evening from 6:00 to 8:00, we’ll be attending Raising Community Minded Kids at AS220, located at 115 Empire Street in downtown Providence. The event is organized by KidoInfo and is designed to start a conversation about ways that we can engage youth in meaningful activities to promote social responsibility and positive change. A number of local organizations will be attending to provide parents and families with information about their work and chances to get involved—be sure to stop by if you can and look for our table!

We’ll be there to let people know about our free Plant Providence workshops this summer on Affordable Backyard Gardening (June 11th) and Cooking and Gardening with Your Kids (Aug. 27th, co-taught with the school nutrition experts over at Kids First RI). We also have a big Community Land Trust 30th birthday party and bring-your-own-picnic for families coming up on July 17th; it will take place out at our 50-acre Urban Edge Farm out in Cranston and feature a concert by children’s singer/songwriter Bill Harley as well as hay rides, face painting, and other activities. For more information, visit our picnic page (soon to be updated with ticket information). Hope to see you at some of these events over the summer!

May 24, 2011

Sprucing Up the Side Yard

Here at our offices on Somerset Street in south Providence, we have our own small community garden next to the building which is shared by Community Land Trust staff and neighborhood residents. Recently, the garden has been undergoing a lot of improvements. Over the past few weeks, students from the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center here in Providence have been doing some light construction work and garden maintenance for us! They’ve been building a handicap-accessible bed under the supervision of Kurt Van Dexter, a local artist, teacher, and landscape architect who is a member of the Urban Agriculture Task Force and teaches part-time at the Met School. Meanwhile, our friends at Casa Buena Builders, Inc. have been laying down concrete for a sidewalk that will enable people to navigate wheelchairs to the plot and our building.

Check out these photos of Kurt’s students cutting back bushes and dismantling an old garden bed to install the new, higher one in its place:

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The new bed is the latest in a series of community projects undertaken by the Met students as part of the school’s unique landscape and garden design internship program; last year, for example, they installed a rain garden at Riverside Mills Park. The program combines in-classroom training on subjects like drawing to scale with hands-on field work. The students gain practical skills—how to work with wood, responsibly use power tools, and plan out a garden—and have a chance to apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations. We are so proud to have had these students involved in our garden and appreciate very much Kurt’s leadership on this project.

The students aren’t doing all the work! Last month, our staff engaged in a side yard clean-up in honor of Earth Day, where we got the garden back into shape for another great growing season. Since then, we’ve planted lots of seeds and City Farm plant starts. We can almost taste the tomatoes.

Outreach Director Jessica Knapp, left, and Director of Operations Liana Cassar, right, collect old tomato cages.

Director of Development Susan Sakash turns over soil in the communal plot.

Community Growers Network Director Liza Sutton rakes up fallen leaves around the beds.

Jessica bags leaves for yard waste collection (to be made into more municipal compost!).

May 20, 2011

We Did It—Thanks to You!

Despite a brief downpour on Sunday, the Annual Plant Sale last weekend was a great success! In fact, it was our most successful sale yet in terms of money raised for our urban agriculture initiatives here in Providence. We had over 1,100 people come through City Farm to purchase seedlings for their garden and enjoy live music performed by local bands. Even in the rain, people were still lining up with trays of vegetables and herbs to take home. When we think about little offshoots of City Farm being planted in gardens all across the region and yielding food for hundreds of families, it’s pretty inspiring.

We appreciate everyone who renewed their memberships or signed up for new memberships at the Plant Sale to sustain our work. And we also appreciate our amazing volunteers. Rich Pederson, our City Farm Steward, is truly gifted when it comes to cultivating plants, but even he could not have raised 18,000+ from seed in a single greenhouse over the past three months without the support of many, many people—students, community members, gardeners, donors, board members, and the Perennial Ladies, who return faithfully every year just like their flowering plants. They all gave us the gift of their time, some starting as far back as February, doing everything from sorting seeds to potting to transplanting to assembling organic gardening kits. Our thanks go out to them for making the wonderful event that is the Plant Sale possible again this year.

Here are a few images of our great volunteers at work; we’ll be sharing photos from the sale here very soon. If you’re interested in helping out with other programs and events coming up this summer, please visit our volunteer page!

May 17, 2011

Planting an Idea

Among other activities, the B.U.G. curriculum engages students in insect collection and identification as a way of cataloging the biodiversity of urban gardens.

Our former Education Director, Leo Pollock (now Director of Programs), has been busy lately getting the word out about the potential that exists for youth and adults to learn how to grow their own food and, in so doing, come to better understand their dependence on the planet and one another for sustenance. He recently presented a workshop at the Rhode Island Science Teachers Association’s spring conference, “Building the Future for the Next Generation of Science,” about the B.U.G. (Biodiversity in Urban Gardens) pedagogical model he developed in collaboration with the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at Rhode Island College, and Johnson and Wales University. The project was funded by an Environmental Education grant from the EPA, and the resulting curriculum, which was piloted at the summer Children’s Garden at City Farm and through the Youth Garden Clubs at local school gardens, will soon be accessible to educators via the Urban Agriculture Resource Center section of our website.

Leo has also been advocating for urban gardening in other forums. Earlier this month, he had an article appear in The Jewish Voice & Herald. Entitled “The ‘Dirt’ on Food,” the editorial summarizes the ways that growing our own produce and supporting regional farmers not only is beneficial to the environment and the local economy, but also helps to strengthen community ties as people share the fruits of their labor. Here’s a direct link to the article. We hope his description of “the magic of watching a seed sprout and develop its first leaves” inspires you and serves to rededicate us all to the importance of this work here in Providence!

May 15, 2011

More Plants for Sale!

Photo by Douglas Stuchel.

Yesterday’s Plant Sale was really busy and fun, but if you didn’t make it, don’t worry—we still have lots of plants left for sale, including everybody’s favorites: peppers, tomatoes, and herbs! There’s also more live music planned. Come on out to City Farm (directions are here) today, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. It’s your last chance this year to take home some of the incredibly healthy green plant starts raised on-site. Every purchase supports the Community Land Trust’s programs to help people grow food in the city.

Douglas Stuchel, Senior Experiential Education Coordinator with Johnson & Wales University, was at the sale yesterday and blogged about his experience and his new plants. To read his account, click here.

May 13, 2011

Snapshot: City Farm is Ready

Here’s a look at the final preparations backstage at City Farm in anticipation of tomorrow’s huge annual Plant Sale. We’ll see you there!

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May 13, 2011

On Collaboration and Carbon

Two weeks ago, the Community Land Trust co-sponsored a talk by environmentalist, author, and founder Bill McKibben at Brown’s Salomon Center for Teaching, along with the University’s Center for Environmental Studies and emPOWER. ecoRI provided a great recap of the presentation, entitled “Global and Local: The Fight for a Workable Climate,” which was the keynote lecture for the campus’ Earth Week—you can read the article by clicking here. We wanted to share these photos from the reception that took place after the talk, hosted by CES at the Urban Environmental Laboratory. The event was a celebration of thirty years of collaboration between the University and Southside Community Land Trust, which was founded by Deborah Schimberg and other Brown alumni in 1981. Here are some of the highlights:

Bill McKibben, right, chats with emPOWER members and other Brown students in the UEL garden. Photo courtesy of CES.

After being introduced by J. Timmons Roberts, director of the Center for Environmental Studies, Deborah Schimberg talks about how she came to found the Community Land Trust upon her graduation from Brown.

Ari Rubenstein, director of emPOWER (center), explains the mission of the student group to promote environmental sustainability on campus. Photo courtesy of CES.

May 11, 2011

Sharing Stories at Springtime

The spring edition of our print newsletter, Southside Green.

Last week, we mailed out the newest edition of Southside Green, our biannual print newsletter, with articles about this weekend’s Plant Sale and our Community Growers marketing collaborative, as well as a calendar of upcoming events and workshops. The newsletter should already have hit the doorsteps of our members and community partners—if you’d like to receive the newsletter by mail and support our programs, click here to join! If you’re not a member, but would still like to read the latest news about our work, click here to download a PDF (the newsletter is also available in the News and Events section of our website).

In this issue, in honor of our 30th anniversary year, we invited anyone who has a story about the Community Land Trust (as a current or former gardener, staff/board member, volunteer, etc.) to share it with us via a new page at There, you can also tell us if you know someone from our history that we might have lost touch with so that we can reconnect. By gathering names and stories, we hope to put together a more complete picture of the impact that the organization has had on people in Providence and across the country over the past three decades. Thanks in advance for your contributions!

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