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African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI): Community Garden

The Challenge

When African immigrants, women especially, arrive to Rhode Island, they often lack a strong community, job opportunities, and access to culturally appropriate food or land to grow it on.

The Approach

This community garden provides the space for African immigrant women to grow food for themselves and for market, empowering them and the Providence community nutritionally, culturally, and economically.

By The Numbers

Since its inception in 2010, the community garden has expanded into five urban garden locations, one 6.5 acre farm, two farmer’s markets, and three pop-up markets.

  • Number of garden participants: 40
  • Number of African crops grown (out of 15 total): 8
  • Sales of produce (2019): $65,000
  • Projected number of pop-up markets: 8

Ensure Food Security for All Rhode Islanders

To empower African communities in Rhode Island while increasing production and consumption of culturally-appropriate crops.

Program Description

This program helps ensure food security for Rhode Islanders by increasing access to healthful, culturally appropriate produce and by growing community access to gardening.

The community garden provides African immigrant women the opportunity to grow food, including traditional African crops, for their own families and for the community. This empowers them not only by increasing access to culturally appropriate food, but also by strengthening their community bonds and providing them work opportunities. The community garden puts power back into the hands of these women, especially in the current food system which neglects traditional African ingredients. AARI has also expanded their market program into cooking demonstrations, value-added products, and pop-up markets to increase produce access in specific food-insecure neighborhoods, serving Latino, African-American, and Southeast Asian communities. As the community garden expands into even more projects (including one to help home gardeners test their soil), AARI improves food access for the whole community.

Future Plans

AARI hopes to use the farm, specifically its greenhouse and high tunnel infrastructure, to expand their growing season, increasing production and sales. They also plan to expand into more projects in their markets, such as events on food preservation and nutrition.

This Rhode Island Story was prepared by Ethan Pan.