By Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD)

The Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm has announced that it is making available family farm plots to community members for the 2021 Spring and Summer growing season. The plots are 4’x25’ in size and are located at the Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm on Jepson Lane in Portsmouth. The farm is located at Cloverbud Ranch and is a partnership between the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD) and Portsmouth School District.

Everything about the farm is focused on education around sustainable agriculture. “Kids these days are so disconnected from where food is grown. To them, food comes from the fridge,” said Margie Brennan, Portsmouth School District’s science coach and coordinator for the project. “We wanted to give kids an opportunity to learn about sustainable agriculture by doing it.” Portsmouth Middle School has been a key partner in the project and will hold STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education classes, as well as after-school programs at the farm.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans’ diets are out of balance with federal recommendations. “While people in the United States are consuming more vegetables and fruit than in 1970, the average U.S. diet still falls short of the recommendations in the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for these major food groups” (source: USDA).

The Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm is a project of Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD). Sara Churgin, ERICD District Manager, said, “This is a project that will positively affect the entire island community. Children and families will be introduced to healthy eating as well as farming, an extremely important business – especially in light of COVID-19 with food security being threatened.”

Much headway has been made on the farm this Spring. Portions of the farm have been tilled and prepared for planting. A storage shed and seasonal high tunnel have been installed. Plans for the farm include a pollinator garden, outdoor classroom with pavilion, deer fencing, and irrigation. Churgin said, “Some of the projects have been funded, but there is still great opportunity for support. We have been overwhelmed with the time and effort people have already invested in the farm and we can’t wait to see what’s next.”

The family farm plots are $30 for the season and financial assistance is available. Plots will be ready on June 7 and reservations are now available online. Families will be responsible for maintaining their plot and must adhere to safety regulations.

To sign up, visit www.easternriconservation.org/aginnovation-farm or email Margie Brennan at brennanm2@portsmouthschoolsri.org. For more information on ERICD or to sign up for email updates, visit www.easternriconservation.org

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