Mind and Body

Nature at work

From Barrington to Johnston to the West End of Providence, there are growing signs of a farming renewal in Rhode Island

Photo courtesy of Angela Ankoma

Angela Ankoma, front left, welcomes a tour of the Sankofa Gardens from the sixth-grade class from the Gordon School.

Photo by Richad Asinof

Team work in transplanting 300 tomato seedlings.

Photo by Richard Asinof

The back of the farm stand at the Barrington Farm School.

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By Richard Asinof
Posted 6/3/19
There is a farming revival underway in Rhode Island, and with it, a way of passing down knowledge, tradition and community.
When will the work of farmers be seen as a political statement of equity? How many painters will join in the event on June 21 at the Barrington Farm School? How many political reporters have ever toured the Sankofa Initiative? How many businesses would consider setting up their own community garden for employees?
The lessons of gardening and farming bring with it a sense of humility, the constant vigil around the unpredictable elements, and a sense of community that is long-lasting.

BARRINGTON – What we observe when we are outdoors is often through the limited lens of our car windows, meaning that we often miss so much of what is occurring all around us. The great blue heron flying overhead; the osprey landing on its nest in Hundred Acre Cove; the bright flash of a scarlet tanager in a distant field; and the aromatic morning being welcomed by the locust blossoms along the roadway.

The sign at the back of the farm stand at the Barrington Farm School said it all succinctly: “Nature at Work.” Down in the fields, in the plot that the resident farmers had labeled “Little Uruguay,” some 300 tomato plants were being transplanted, in a kind of human-devised efficient routine of team work and repetition: one person dug the hole with a post digger, another dropped the tomato seedling into the hole, a third firmed up the soil around the tomato seedling, a fourth watered the newly transplanted seedlings; and a fifth unrolled drip irrigation hoses along the paths next to the plant. Nearby, the honeybees buzzed contently in and out of their new hives, hard at work in their pursuits.

On Friday, June 21, from sunset to twilight, the Barrington Farm School will host its second annual Plein Air painting gathering, where budding artists of all ages are welcome to set up an easel and paint the landscape.

The Sankofa Initiative

Last week, the sixth-grade class from The Gordon School visited the Sankofa community garden adjacent to the affordable housing developing, chatting with Angela Ankoma about the “roots” of Sankofa and how the West Elmwood Development Corporation is working alongside community members to drive change.

On Thursday, June 6, from 6-8 p.m., a community meal known as “Sankofa Eats,” hosted by the West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, will showcase local chefs, businesses and produce while providing an opportunity for people in the community to gather and share not just a meal together, but an experience.

The African Alliance of Rhode Island
The African Alliance of Rhode Island celebrated the grand opening of its Bami Farm on Thursday, May 23, at 2321 Hartford Ave. in Johnston, as a way of expanding its growing space.

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