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.