Educational farm in Portsmouth will be used to teach students about sustainable farming and environmental practices

The new farm is a partnership between Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District and Portsmouth School District, and will be used to teach students about soil and water quality, sustainable farming, and the environment.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WLNE) – On a quiet plot of land in Portsmouth sits a brand new farm, just getting started, after a ribbon cutting earlier this month.  The AgInnovation Farm is a new endeavor for students on Aquidneck Island, where they’ll learn all about sustainable farming practices, water and soil quality, and the environment.

Sara Churgin is the District Manager for Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District.  Churgin says, “They can learn where, in fact, food comes from, how important sustainability is, how important supporting local farms is.”

As part of an after school program, students can learn how everyday choices affect our food supply and our environment.  The farm sits right next to a local reservoir, serving as a reminder of the importance of farming without chemicals and pesticides whenever possible.

Churgin says, “When it rains, that runoff is going to go into our drinking water.  Yes, there is a facility that cleans the water, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to have that facility?”

The farm is a partnership with the Portsmouth School District.  Margie Brennan is the district’s K through 8 Science Instructional Coach.  Brennan says, “During the winter, we did a soil health class.  That was an after school science class… where they were learning about all the chemistry of carbon sequestering out of the sky and what plants do to benefit.”

And while the farm itself is in Portsmouth, it will be available to students in Middletown and Newport as well.  The focus is on education, not producing large quantities of food.  Anything that is grown will be given to a food pantry.

Brennan says, “Our hope is that this is an island-wide education facility, not anything that producing anything of great value other than knowledge.”

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Categories: News, Rhode Island