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.