Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has awarded seven grants totaling $13,454 to local community and neighborhood groups through its annual grant program, the Merritt Neighborhood Fund. Grant awards ranged from $1,204 to $2,500. 

Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. It has awarded grants each year since its founding and has helped to underwrite projects across Aquidneck Island. A committee of ALT volunteers and board members determines the awards. 

“We received many thoughtful and creative grant submissions this year,” said Chuck Allott, ALT Executive Director in a press release. “Aquidneck Islanders will appreciate the enhancements and shade benefits of new tree and landscape plantings, and from the increased capacity of two important non-profit gardens, which provide thousands of pounds of produce to local underserved communities. These awards, though modest, install neighborhood pride, beautify and improve Aquidneck Island, and foster appreciation for the natural world.” 

Awards were given to the following applicants: 

• Calvary United Methodist Church: replacement of six cherry trees 

• God’s Community Garden: improvements to garden, seed inventory 

• Middletown Tree Association: improve streetscape of Berkeley Avenue by planting variety of 10 trees 

• Newport Tree Conservancy: reforesting project in Miantonomi Park 

• Norman Bird Sanctuary: improvements to vegetable garden and preparation area 

• Portsmouth Dog Park: replacement of shade trees 

• St. John the Evangelist Church: improvements to streetscape by landscaping 

Information on the 2021 Merritt Neighborhood Awards will be announced in February, 2021. 

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).