Lots of Hope urban greenhouse and farm open on Prairie Avenue

Offers an outdoor gardening laboratory for students

Mayor Jorge Elorza and Peter Asen, director of the city’s Healthy Communities Office, stand outside the Prairie Avenue greenhouse.

Mayor Jorge Elorza and Peter Asen, director of the city’s Healthy Communities Office, stand outside the Prairie Avenue greenhouse.

 

The first Lots of Hope greenhouse and adjacent small farm officially opened on Friday morning, July 10 on Prairie Avenue, offering the South Providence community a green open space that will extend the growing season for local urban farmers, help foster micro businesses, promote composting and serve Providence students.

Providence’s Lots of Hope initiative was launched last year to turn vacant, city-owned property into productive urban farms and bring fresh produce to neighborhoods. While expanding Providence’s open spaces, the program contributes to improvements in air quality, public health and local property values.

Robin Schutt, executive director of operations for Providence Schools, spoke about how Providence students can utilize the greenhouse and adjacent urban farm.

Robin Schutt, executive director of operations for Providence Schools, spoke about how Providence students can utilize the greenhouse and adjacent urban farm.

Low-cost leases will be provided to Groundwork Providence and to the African Alliance of Rhode Island, the primary users of this urban farm, to expand their growing season and support their businesses.

The project is a true community effort and was made possible by the City of Providence’s Office of Sustainability, the Healthy Communities Office, the Providence School Department’s Rekindling the Dream Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation and Partners for Places.

Located in the heart of South Providence, the 3,200-quare-foot lot is within walking distance of Fogarty and Bailey elementary schools, a library, senior center and church.

Community members walk through the greenhouse, which offers space for large gardens.

Community members walk through the greenhouse, which offers space for large gardens.

The Prairie Avenue Lot of Hope will offer a garden education space and outdoor learning lab for Providence students who will learn more about gardening, local food systems and reducing waste as our district works to integrate garden-based education into the school curriculum. Students will be able to eat locally-sourced foods grown at the garden, just a few blocks or miles from their schools and homes through school food service purchasing, which advocates for locally-grown produce.

Mayor Elorza, far right, joins the planting.

Mayor Elorza, far right, joins the planting.

“In this age of electronics and exploding technology, we have tended to move away from enjoying the outdoors and working with the richness of our natural environment,” said Robin Schutt, executive director of operations for Providence Schools. “This program offers our students the chance to learn something at school that they can share with their parents while, at the same time, enjoying the simple pleasures of farming. Through the Lots of Hope, we can continue working with the earth and caring for plants that will grow and yield fresh produce within the neighborhood of our homes and schools.”

Providence Schools Chief of Administration Joseph DiPina and Executive Director of Development, Partnerships and Community Doris De Los Santos also attended.

The city created the first Lots of Hope farm in 2013 at the Manton Bend Community Farm while a second Lots of Hope farm opened in 2014 at the Meader Street Farm on the city’s West Side.

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