Over 350 people attended Fiesta Verde on July 23, 2016 in support of Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT), a non-profit dedicated to open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of the Aquidneck Island community.

The fundraiser, which was held at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI, has become one of the most-anticipated summer bashes on Aquidneck Island and raised close to $200,000, of which $100,000 is earmarked for its new Spruce Acres Farm project. With an “Old Havana Nights” theme, guests experienced delicious Cuban food and drinks by McGrath Caterers, and danced the night away to the Cuban band Grupo Fantasia under the glowing tent of the sold out event. Audrain Car Museum provided classic cars to complete the Cuban theme.

At Fiesta Verde, Chuck Allott, Executive Director, and Jim Chace, Board Chair, announced a new land acquisition project called Spruce Acres Farm, a 23-acre parcel on the Middletown/Portsmouth town line. The organization seeks to raise $2.3 million to acquire the property, which will be the future home of ALT, including its offices, land stewardship operations and programming facilities.

“We’re thrilled to announce the fundraising is underway for this unique property,” said Allott. “We have received a significant cornerstone donation towards this project that now allows us to publicly raise more money for the acquisition. We are excited to begin the process and look forward to keeping our members and the community up-to-date as we move forward.”

Spruce Acres Farm has been a tree farm since the 1950s, but had ceased operations in recent years. This has provided a spectacular wildlife habitat. The farmhouse, barn and garages will house ALT’s land protection operations and will allow the organization to expand to include learning spaces, a small event space and a functional stewardship area. ALT hopes to develop a community garden and small farm plots on the land as well, in addition to nature trails and habitat.

ALT kicked-off the Spruce Acres Farm campaign at Fiesta Verde with the Leadership Launch, a program that focuses on donations of $1,000 or more. In just ten minutes, the organization raised $100,000 towards the acquisition of the Farm. For Leadership givers, a private cocktail reception and trail walk on the property are planned, as well as recognition on a dedicated page on the ALT website. If you are interested in giving to the Leadership Launch and supporting ALT, please contact Laura Freedman Pedrick at lpedrick@ailt.org or call401.849.2799, x18.

Aquidneck Land Trust’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island’s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. The organization has conserved 2,552 acres on 76 properties across Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).