Potters Ave. Garden Protection Celebrated (RI)

Providence, Rhode Island, 11/15/2005: A tract of land inside the Potters Avenue Community Garden and Park has been permanently protected as a community garden site, averting the development of a triple-decker house in the middle of the garden. State Representative Thomas Slater, Providence City Councilman Louis Aponte, the neighborhood’s gardeners, the Southside Community Land Trust, and the Trust for Public Land headlined a ceremony Saturday celebrating the preservation project.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national non-profit conservation organization working through its Parks for People New England program to increase access to open spaces in urban areas. TPL worked with the Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) to negotiate a contract with the former landowner to allow SCLT to purchase the property. To help cover the cost of the $39,000 purchase price and associated project costs, SCLT received a grant from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). RIDEM made a grant from its Agricultural Land Preservation Program, funded by voters through the 2004 Open Space bond, also known as Question 8.

SCLT has agreed to never develop the property through a legal restriction that will forever limit its use to open space and agricultural production.

While RIDEM’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program is typically used to help rural farms stay in production, the Potters Avenue Garden qualifies because of the amount of food grown on the site every season. Lisa Primiano, supervisor of the program in the Division of Planning and Development for RIDEM, said, “People don’t always realize that the city has productive farmland, too. RIDEM is pleased that the Land Conservation Program can help raise that awareness while protecting valuable working farmland throughout Rhode Island.”

SCLT Executive Director Katherine Brown concurred. “The Agricultural Land Preservation Program is exactly what we needed to save our garden. We’re so pleased work with RIDEM to preserve food security in Providence.”

Whitney Hatch, TPL’s Regional Director, said, “Working with SCLT has been a wonderful example of a committed, diverse partnership protecting land in cities. This garden and park can now continue to be a productive green space that everyone in South Providence will enjoy.”

In addition to the funding from RIDEM, SCLT financed the purchase and associated costs thanks to assistance from City Councilor Luis Aponte and private contributions.

The garden is on Potters Avenue near Prairie Street, next to the Mt. Calvary Church of God in Lower South Providence. About 40 gardeners have been cultivating plots at the garden since 1990, when residents worked with SCLT to reclaim the vacant land there. On less than one acre, there is also an educational children’s garden, a seating area, a gazebo, and a playground used by residents of South Providence.

The Southside Community Land Trust was established in 1981 as an inner-city land trust focused on food security and community development in South Providence, Rhode Island. As a membership organization, their mission is to promote community gardening, facilitate environmental education, and act as a catalyst for addressing other community needs. Today, SCLT comprises 12 community gardens serving 200 families; an extensive school-based and public environmental educational program; City Farm, an inner-city certified organic farm; and Urban Edge Farm, a 50-acre farm in Cranston where SCLT offers a Farm Business Incubator program for low-income farmers to begin their businesses. More information is at http://www.southsideclt.org.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 46 states, including 9 projects in Rhode Island. Parks for People New England is a program of the Trust for Public Land improving the quality of life and health in cities by creating and ensuring access to parks, gardens, trails, and other open spaces. For more information, please contact us at (617) 367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org/rhodeisland.