Resources / Rhode Island Stories

Southside Community Land Trust:
Urban Edge Farm

The Challenge

Two major barriers of entry for people who want to become farmers in Rhode Island are the scarcity and high cost of farmland in the state.

The Approach

Beginning farmers, including many new to this country, work alongside experienced growers learning technical skills and marketing strategies within a cooperative setting.

By The Numbers

  • Number of farm businesses now based at Urban Edge Farm: 11
  • Amount invested in UEF capital improvements in 2018-19: 250,000
  • Number of restaurants, markets and food businesses buying food from UEF farmers: 100
  • Number of agricultural products grown on-site: 60

Preserve and Grow Agriculture Industries

UEF is unique in providing aspiring farmers with affordable leases, shared equipment, cold storage and mentorship in one the most expensive and densely populated states in the country.

Program Description

Southside Community Land Trust offers low-cost leases, farm equipment and technical assistance on parcels ranging from 1/4 to 3 acres at the 30-acre Urban Edge Farm in Cranston. SCLT is steadily clearing land at UEF for RI farmers who promise to use healthy growing practices to supply high-quality food to restaurants, farmers markets, food businesses, CSAs and residents of low-food access neighborhoods. Since 2007, UEF has provided land and training to 31 small-scale farmers, and has identified seven additional farmers who plan to move their operations to UEF in the next year.

UEF farmers produce an astonishing array of organically grown traditional and specialty crops, including “ethnic” produce not sold in grocery stores. Many were born outside the U.S. and began growing food in community gardens and urban farms in Providence and Pawtucket. After expanding their businesses at UEF, they have continued to sell to customers in their urban neighborhoods, helping them to maintain healthy, varied and culturally familiar diets.

Future Plans

UEF will continue to provide affordable leases, farm infrastructure and technical expertise to beginning farmers who want to grow fresh produce for customers at all income levels.

This Rhode Island Story was prepared by Samantha Gable and Jenny Boone.