About The Jamestown Community Farm
The Jamestown Community Farm was created twenty-two years ago in response to an idea that there is both individual and community value in helping those in need and that one of the most fundamental needs is good food. Growing fresh produce and distributing it to those less fortunate meets this need and is also a valued project defining our Island community. To accomplish this, the landowner originally agreed to allow his friend, the current farm manager, to cultivate crops on his property without charge. That agreement lasted for eighteen years. Later a lease was arranged and the farm became a 501c(3) in 2010. And so, this wonderful experiment began. From the onset our intent was: to grow fresh produce and distribute it to those less fortunate; to produce crops without the use of commercial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and to pursue a method of sustainable farming that systematically improves the nutrient value of the agricultural soil even as it produces crops. The Farm is committed to methods of farming that minimize the impact on the natural environment, including water and soil.
The 17 acres of farmland are located in the northern middle of Jamestown’s “Center Island Greenway” and the “Windmill Hill Historic District”. These two districts total over 1,000 acres of contiguous permanently protected wetlands, forested habitat, recreational fields bike path, hiking paths and farmland. Most importantly the Greenway contains the Town’s entire public drinking water reservoir watershed. The farm is the largest unprotected parcel of land in Jamestown’s Center Island Greenway district.
The farm depends on a volunteer force of people to plant, weed and harvest the vegetable production. From May to October volunteers work on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday morning. On an annual basis we average 100 to 125 individual volunteers of all ages (12 to 80+ years old.) Each year we have a core working group of 12 – 15 individuals that work at least one or two times a week. There is real positive energy created when workers of all ages come together offering their time for a greater cause.
“It is the one place that represents the best of our community, generosity and service to others, inclusivity of all age groups, all the while having great fun playing in the dirt.”
Dave Dacquino, Volunteer
In addition, intern programs have contributed greatly to our workforce. In 2017 a charitable foundation approached the farm with an opportunity to provide funds for a two year young adult summer intern program. We responded positively and they have awarded the Community Farm funding grants through 2024. This program has allowed us to employ two to three high school and college age students who are 17 years or older and possess a driver’s license to work a forty hour week at the farm. The work is designed to incorporate learning agricultural skills, farm equipment operation and maintenance, plant/weed identification, soil testing, greenhouse horticultural skills, starting and nurturing seedlings, organic farming methods, and basic carpentry. The program has been a complete success. It has provided the farm with positive energetic bodies to help complete the labor required. In turn we have learned from the interns. Several students have come with previous farm experience and commitment to the organic farming methods. As a result of their efforts and knowledge we have completely reinvented our tillage and cover cropping program to “no-till” and successional winter and summer cover cropping.
In a companion program we have been working with the MET high school in Newport, an alternative educational program. They have provided us with interns to work at the farm for two full days a week throughout their academic year.
The volunteer program, the special project volunteers, school intern programs, and foundation sponsored intern program are providing incredible people the experience of working in a productive vegetable farm. In return they have become the backbone of the Jamestown Community Farm and contribute energy, and valuable new ideas.
Joey: “The feeling of picking and donating is the most rewarding aspect of the farm, seeing all your hard work going into a cause that impacts others positively.”
Nina: “I love how it all connects, nothing is every really wasted here. It all comes back and is recycled into the farm for a different purpose. That is one of the things I most love about it.
For the last ten years we have been planting, harvesting, and delivering between 11 to 14 tons of produce annually. As we transition to no-till, our production has dropped off. However, as we work our way through the learning curve of this new method of tilling the soil, weeding and harvesting, we expect our production to go up and exceed historical amounts. We conduct soil tests every two years and monitor and weigh all our production. A small flock of egg laying chickens provides us with eggs and manure that is rich in nitrogen. Their mobile chicken coup is periodically moved around the farm thus distributing their natural fertilizer. There are 240 feet of blackberry bushes and we maintain a small demonstration “edible landscape” garden of berries and fruit trees. Over 200 feet of raised beds for herb gardens and vegetable crops are cultivated. In addition, a fifty tree apple orchard was planted in the northwest section of the farm this year. A one acre plot on the neighboring dairy farm is used primarily for sweet corn.
The JCF serves a community of food pantries throughout the State. They are not the end user but are actually the final element in distribution.
The food pantries we deliver to on a weekly basis during the vegetable production season are:
- McAuley House, 622 Elmwood Ave., Providence, RI
- Martin Luther King Center, 20 Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Blvd., Newport, RI
- Johnny Cake Center, 1138B Kingston Road, Peacedale, RI
- Jamestown Community Food Pantry, Central Baptist Church, Narragansett Ave., Jamestown, RI
- Individual Homes to housebound invalids
We deliver produce on Wednesday morning to McAuley House and Martin Luther King Center. We deliver to Johnny Cake Center, Friday mornings and Jamestown Food Pantry primarily on Saturday morning.
The Educational Role
In addition, not anticipated at the outset, the farm has provided and continues to provide more and more educational opportunities, both formal and informal, to the community. We have sponsored a seed planting day, an earth day open house, a film at the Jamestown library on the growing trend of young people in agriculture, seminars on the Farm’s photovoltaic power, the barn’s architecture, beekeeping, chickens, nursery school pumpkin day, pumpkin hayrides and a natural wreath making workshop. And, every day that they work at the farm, our volunteers and interns gain first hand experience and agricultural knowledge.
The Farm Stand
Visit our Vegetable Farm Stand
In season vegetables, herbs, eggs, and honey when available.
July – October Store Hours: Saturdays 10:00AM -12:00 Noon
The Farm Infrastructure
About 10 years ago we began a major investment in our building infrastructure. Contractor volunteers constructed a wood frame barn to shelter our equipment, provide indoor workspace and house our small farm stand. It was built from native rough sawn lumber purchased from a RI sawmill from donations raised within the community. With a grant from NRCS we purchased a 3000sq.ft, high tunnel greenhouse, a grant from the Champlin Foundation purchased our 3.5 KW solar voltaic system and our water collection system. We subsequently constructed (primarily by interns) a 900sq.ft. equipment storage shed so that all our equipment has winter shelter.
- 232sq.ft wooden barn (constructed 2011)
- 900sq.ft wooden equipment shed (constructed 2018/19
- 2,880sq,ft. high tunnel green house, drip irrigation (constructed 2014)
- 400sq.ft. small green house (constructed 2002)
- 1200sq.ft. raised planting beds (constructed 2013-2019)
- 3.5kw solar panels (constructed 2012)
6500 gal. rainwater collection and storage system (constructed 2014)
- 4600 linear ft. deer fence
- mobile chicken coup
The Farm Equipment
Three to four years ago we began upgrading our field tillage equipment with an eye toward revising our farm soil building, growing technique and carbon capture. We have replaced our fifty year old field seeder and purchased tillage equipment that is much less invasive to the farm soils and builds nutrient levels.
- 2018 Brillion Field Seeder
- 2o18 JD wheel harrow
- 2019 JD shank ripper
- 2018 JD flail mower
- 2017 Perfecta soil conditioner
- 1988 John Deere 60hp tractor with attached loader
- 1951 Farmall 30hp cultivator tractor
- 1938 John Deere (G) 30hp tractor
- 2014 Tractor mounted post hole digger
- 1960’s JD wheel harrow
- 2019 Honda generator
- 2011 Makita air compressor
- Variety of wagons and trailers
- Variety of older supportive farm equipment
- 3 large water pumps/3 water tanks that support water collection and distribution system.
Our immediate goal is to raise the funds to purchase the land through our “ONE CHANCE “ CAMPAIGN. Success in this fundraiser is essential if we are to continue with the mission of our farm.