Divine Providence, RI: Turn Over a New Leaf by Tending Your Own Community Garden Plot
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 15 per cent of the world’s food is grown in urban areas comprised of backyards, self-contained pots on roof-tops and balconies, and community garden plots spread over slopes, river banks, or vacant land which otherwise would be unproductive. Rhode Island’s own capital city of Providence has a plethora of divine, fruit-of-the-vine, communal gardens:
Amherst Street – 125 Amherst St.
Burnett Street – Burnett and Bucklin
Chapin Street – Chapin and Sycamore St.
City Farm – West Clifford St.
Communal Garden – 219 Pearl St.
Dexter Street – 564 Dexter St.
Early Street – Early and Niagara St.
Feinstein High School – 544 Elmwood Ave.
Fertile Undergound Glenham Street- 31 Glenham St.
Fox Point – Gano and Power St.
Grove Street – 111 Grove St.
Manton Avenue – Manton Ave. and Pope St.
Mt. Hope – 65 Knowles St.
Mystic Miner – 112 Miner St.
Peace and Plenty – 89 Peace St.
Potters Avenue Park and Garden – 179 Potters Ave.
Prairie North – 468 Prairie Ave. St.
Riverside Park – Aleppo and Pelham St.
Sessions Street – 160 Sessions St.
Somerset – 85 Somerset St.
West End – Bridgham and Westminster St.
Wilson East and Wilson West – Wilson and Gilmore St.
Urban Environmental Lab – 135 Angell St.
Statistics cite the capital city’s South and West side neighborhoods as having high unemployment rates with low median household incomes. Also noted is the loss of full service grocery stores in these areas, leaving corner stores with limited fruit and vegetable selections for healthy eating. The Community Gardens Network Initiative made up of volunteers offers training programs in growing sustenance, facilitates city-wide coordination of tool banks, bulk purchases, composting, and fund raising activities. During these tough economic times, the community gardens provide a significant amount of food with less of a strain on household food budgets.
Community gardens are not solely for low income residents in the Providence metropolis. Apartment dwellers without a plot of land to plant may take advantage by renting a slice-of-heaven haven. For instance, Fox Point Garden was founded in 2006 on Providence city property as part of a bond initiative. There are 100 plots with yearly dues of $25 for one. There are common work days to help maintain the garden, several potluck dinners throughout the growing season, and an annual fundraiser. The organization conducts several gardening workshops on subjects such as: seed starting, vegetable garden planning, collecting rainwater, alternatives to Miracle Gro, how to tap maple trees, composting, cooking demonstrations, and seed swaps. Planting in Rhode Island begins as early as the first of April for the likes of: broccoli, kale, lettuce, parsley, onion, and potatoes. Generally, other vegetables are planted late April to mid-June. Hoe, hoe, hoe-it’s time to sow!
Wherever you choose to sow a row in divine Providence, ye shall reap much with a harvest of plenty by forging a connection with the earth. The quality of life improves for every participant working communal farmland through the benefits of physical exercise, eating nutritious and tasty produce without chemicals, and fostering a cooperative spirit among gardeners for a common cause. Saving money at the supermarket is yet another dividend from working fertile ground.
Just as the individual gardener reaps what he sows, the planet also benefits from community gardens. High density development of the land improves air quality, while reducing noise and air pollution. Gardening beautifies and utilizes vacant land that would otherwise have gone to waste. Soil erosion is prevented through a network of roots which take hold.
Come spring, don’t be a couch potato. Gather a few gardening tools and tend your own community garden plot. Mind your peas and watch your urban garden grow. Cultivate a sense of pride, stemming from working the land in divine Providence.