The Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD) has announced it recently received a legislative grant to support its agricultural education project, Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm. The grant of $1,000 will support the purchase of a tractor for the farm.

The grant was awarded on behalf of Rhode Island House Representatives Michelle McGaw of District 71 (representing Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Little Compton) and Terri Cortvriend of District 72 (Middletown and Portsmouth).

McGaw said in a statement, “The AgInnovation Farm introduces students to the relationship between agriculture, our environment, and our community. I grew up with my hands in the dirt learning to grow healthy foods and I am so proud that Portsmouth is providing this opportunity for our students.”

photo of Reps. Cortvriend (left) & McGaw (right) presenting a legislative grant at Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm

Cortvriend said, “First as a school committee member and now as a legislator a priority of mine is to make sure that our students graduate as climate literate citizens. The skills and experiences that the AgInnovation Farm will bring to students fits in perfectly with my efforts to make sure students are exposed to the concepts of environmental protection, sustainability practices and climate change during the course of their K-12 education. I am so excited to see this project get off the ground and look forward to becoming part of the community that supports it.”

The Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm is located at Cloverbud Ranch on Jepson Lane in Portsmouth and is a partnership between ERICD and Portsmouth School District.

Short and long-term plans for the farm include installation of a pollinator garden, outdoor classroom with pavilion, deer fencing, and irrigation. The school district plans to hold STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education classes, as well as after-school programs at the farm. Sara Churgin, ERICD District Manager, said, “We are so thankful to Representatives McGaw and Cortvriend for advocating for agricultural education for our children. This grant will support the purchase of a tractor, which will be foundational in the long-term success of the farm. We have been overwhelmed with the time and effort people have already invested in this project and we can’t wait to see what’s next.”

The farm has been transformed for the growing season since early Spring. Portions have been tilled and planted and a storage shed and seasonal high tunnel have been installed. Volunteers have been weeding and watering, tasks which the organization says it is in great need of assistance. Interested volunteers can email Margie Brennan at brennanm2@portsmouthschoolsri.org to sign up.

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).