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history


our story

Finding common ground
on Aquidneck Island

 

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history


our story

Finding common ground
on Aquidneck Island

 

 

The mission of Island Commons is to create a vibrant hub of community activity on Aquidneck Island to foster awareness and understanding of the vital relationships between health, environment, agriculture and a thriving local economy. In anticipation of the needs and challenges of present and future generations, we strive to connect people to the land and water that sustain us.

 

 
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recent history


recent history

Our roots

recent history


recent history

Our roots

 

The beauty of the open land adjacent to St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Portsmouth combined with the possibility presented by St. Mary's offering their retired parish hall for community use inspired four island based organizations, Aquidneck Growers' Market, Aquidneck Land Trust and Sustainable Aquidneck to begin discussions in 2008 with members of St. Mary's about the future of the land and building. Island Commons was formed.

Island Commons imagined a vibrant hub of community activity that would combine a thriving agricultural program with community gardens; nature trails; a farmers’ market; a community café; a public meeting space and much more. The ideas are abundant!  This hub would be designed for the citizens of Aquidneck Island to learn more about food and health, fostering awareness and understanding of the vital relationships between health, environment, agriculture and a thriving local economy.

Rev. Pam Mott, former minister of St. Mary's, and Ted Clement, former executive director of the Aquidneck Island Land Trust, were planning to retire the development rights of the 73 acres of land owned by the church adjacent to their campus so that St. Mary's could fund a much-needed new parish hall. That hall is now built and in use, and the land successfully retired from development. Our conversation continues and has grown in scope as we consider the interests and needs of the community, seeking a coherent integrative approach to building a robust food system on Aquidneck Island.

 
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the future


the future

How we hope to grow

 

 

the future


the future

How we hope to grow

 

 

 

Grants from The Kendall Foundation and The Apple Pickers Foundation allowed us to begin on exploring this vision. In 2014, a strategic planning consultant, Gayle Gifford of Cause & Effect, was hired to guide our needs assessment and planning work. More than 40 interviews with community leaders and stake holders informed our understanding of the current circumstances of the island food system, revealing much work and many programs already in place. But our research showed that most efforts are not interconnected or well known by the public. The potential for collaboration and synergy is substantial, if only there were an agency that could connect, enhance and educate about growing our food system.  

Our emerging plan proposes an increase in local food production, access to healthy food for all island citizens and a broader community engagement in food planning that would not only create a base of support for determining the highest and best use of the opportunity at St. Mary's, but would also make the increasingly urgent questions of food and health a community-wide conversation.

The Island Commons Initiative is fiscally sponsored by the Aquidneck Island Land Trust.