GLOCESTER - Sophie Soloway and Courtney Sartini are not your typical farmers.
For one, they're young. A third of farms across the country are run by people age 65 or older, while only 5 percent are operated by people 34 or younger, according to the federal Census of Agriculture. Soloway and Sartini, the owners of Hocus Pocus Farm in Chepachet village, are 25 and 23, respectively. Read More
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In the space of a single sentence, Sue AnderBois, the first-ever director of food strategy for Rhode Island, compared herself to a train conductor and then to WD-40.
That's not as confusing as it may sound. As she told it - with palpable energy and at breathless pace - Rhode Island already has an incredible array of local farms, food producers, markets and restaurants. She sees herself as the person to help all the pieces of the state's food system coordinate better, sort of like a train conductor, and working more smoothly, like, well, WD-40. Read More
By CARRIE SIMONELLI, Providence Journal
JOHNSTON, R.I. - Keriann Koeman remembers her first trip to Holland.
Jeroen Koeman, now her husband, took her to meet his family, who run a 150-acre tulip farm where he grew up. Keriann was picking the tulips, overcome with excitement at being able to select from the blooms, filling up her arms and carrying them around.
"Just to be able to be there, surrounded by all of that beauty," she says. "Being able to bring that back, you can bring that happiness home with you."
It was then, Jeroen says, that "I knew she was the girl for me." Read More
"Sometimes I come up here, put my feet up on the tractor, look out over the sail-boats and think to myself: 'This is Rhode Island,'" said Tyler P. Young, as he gazed across the Sakonnet River toward Aquidneck Island on the last day of March.
The Little Compton farmer was giving a tour of the 300 or so acres where he grows fruits and vegetables each year. Farming is in his blood, and it's a family affair. He and his wife, Karla, co-own Young Family Farm. He harvests potatoes with his uncle. Visible in the distance are greenhouses, owned by his cousin, where flowers are grown.
About 25 miles away, Tyler D. Demora, executive chef of Local 121 in Providence, is prepping for that night's dinner crowd. His ingredients, including some Swiss chard to go with a flat-iron steak, are typically sourced from local farmers. He's also trying to buy fluke from Brown Family Seafood LLC in South Kingstown.
"I'd rather get it from the [local] fishermen because I know the quality is going to be much better," Demora explained. Read More
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released data showing Rhode Island has the greatest percentage of school districts nationwide participating in farm-to-school meal programs. "Rhode Island's leading the pack," USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon told Providence Business News. "That's great to see." Read More
NARRAGANSETT - The state of Rhode Island has adopted a plan facilitated by the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography to reduce the likelihood of human illness from the consumption of improperly handled oysters raised in aquaculture facilities. The plan, created through a collaboration between shellfish management agencies and the aquaculture industry, went into effect July 1. Read More
CRANSTON, R.I. - Farming is hip in New England. Across the region, young people are choosing crops over cubicles, new farms are popping up, and the local food movement is spreading. Farmers and industry experts agree New England is bucking a trend toward larger and fewer farms, because many of its residents want to buy their food locally and its entrepreneurs want to produce it. The region's small size makes it easy for farmers and consumers to connect at farm markets and stands. Many of these new farmers are young people increasingly interested in the origins of their food and farming, who are eager to take over for the nation's aging farmers. Read More
NARRAGANSETT - Far from elegant but unquestionably profitable, the squid secured a place for itself in state law Friday. Under a brilliant blue sky in Narragansett's fishing village of Galilee, Governor Chafee signed a bill into law making Rhode Island-style calamari the state's official appetizer. Read More
PROVIDENCE - The garden beds at Sidewalk Ends Farm pitch this way and that, framed in salvaged wood and set on uneven ground. Here lies wit and whimsy. Kale plants rise from repurposed olive jugs. Chives thrive in a box. A rusty tricycle offers a retro alternative to the ubiquitous ornamental gnome. Read More
Oysters, which account for about 98 percent of all Rhode Island aquaculture products, increased in value by 49 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to David Beutel, aquaculture coordinator for the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council. Read More
A growing belief Rhode Island can become the "Silicon Valley of food" is fueling new collaborations and community discussions that have the potential to catalyze business growth, industry leaders say. Read More
JOHNSTON - Bad news for chickens. Good news for chicken farmers and locavores. Last week, Rhode Island's only U.S. Department of Agriculture-regulated slaughterhouse for poultry opened for business. Read More
4/9/2014 - This week on Executive Suite: Kenneth Ayars, chief of the R.I. Division of Agriculture, discusses the growing number of farms in Rhode Island; David Dadekian previews the upcoming Eat Drink RI Festival.
"Buy locally" makes a good bumper sticker, but it doesn't necessarily equate with economists' views on what causes income to increase within a region. But a new study finds some evidence that in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, buying directly from farms may boost local income. Read More
Current health regulations prevent Rhode Islanders from using unlicensed kitchens to prepare and sell food for public consumption, but could a law like the one recently passed in California create jobs in Rhode Island? Read More
Small farms and farming are on the rise in Rhode Island and across New England, while the practice is down across the country, according to a new federal report. The recently released five-year Census of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows Rhode Island adding 24 farms between 2007 and 2012, an increase of 2 percent. New England had an increase of 5 percent. Across the country, the number of farms are down 4 percent since the last census. Read More
ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. - Vermont beekeepers face mite infestations, extreme temperature swings and the possibility of colony collapse. Last fall, a new threat emerged: zombie bees. Read More
PROVIDENCE - The number of farms in Rhode Island grew by 2 percent to 1,243 from 2007 to 2012 as the state also gained more farmland, according to preliminary findings released Thursday from a U.S. Department of Agriculture census that collected state-by-state data.
Combined with a dramatic increase in the previous five-year period, the number of farms in Rhode Island grew by almost half in just a decade. And it came in a period in which the number of farms nationally fell, according to the Census of Agriculture. Read More
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite their typically small size and sparse distribution, farms that sell their products locally may boost economic growth in their communities in some regions of the U.S., according to a team of economists. Read More
JOHNSTON -- His few dozen chickens cluck and his three pigs squeal as Charles Currie walks by their pens and across his snow- and ice-encrusted vegetable fields. He wishes it wasn't one of the last times.
With his blue jeans, knit hat, bushy beard and hands so dirty he politely declines to shake, Currie, 31, looks every bit the traditional farmer. But he doesn't come from a farming family and only went into agriculture after graduating from the University of Massachusetts and being told that he'd make a good political lobbyist -- a notion that makes him chuckle aloud. Read More
Local pride, curiosity, a sense of history, and a love of the visual image all combine to create Alex Caserta's striking documentaries. From quahogs to apples, Caserta has recorded Rhode Island's food producers talking about their lives and work, and in April he'll start filming his new PBS series, Harvesting Rhode Island. Read More
WESTERLY - Buttercup is sassing her elders again. The small Jersey calf, the only one of her breed among the 65 Holsteins at Ocean Breeze Farm, is butting heads with the adult milking cows on the other side of the fence. She may not know it, but Buttercup is not yet big enough to be integrated into the milking herd, and she's better off where she is for now. Read More