Historic East Providence property to become urban farm

The oldest building in East Providence used to sit on a 177-acre farm. Now, the 1-acre lawn in front of the building will return to its roots as farmland.

By: Tim Studebaker

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of North Broadway in Rumford, surrounded by a gas station, a diner, some fast food restaurants, and modern homes, stands a glimmer of history.

Paul Trudeau with Preserve Rhode Island says, “We have this great property, and we have just been kind of racking our brains trying to think of a good creative long term solution for it.”

The Philip Walker House is one of Rhode Island’s oldest buildings, and it’s the oldest building in East Providence according to Preserve Rhode Island.

Valerie Talmage with Preserve Rhode Island says, “It’s a really rare survivor from the earliest periods of European occupation in this state.”

The once 177-acre farm is now just a 1-acre lawn in front of the building.  Now, prep work has begun to turn that lawn into a working urban farm by the spring.

Talmage says, “A lawn in the front just doesn’t make much sense.  Building up around it doesn’t make any sense.  But, putting it into agricultural use makes a lot of environmental sense.”

They’re looking forward to the impact this will have in East Providence, producing locally grown food.

Talmage says, “The idea that we can return the property to a productive use, to give it a setting that is appropriate to the historic use of the property is just really exciting for us.”

Preserve Rhode Island is renting out the property.  The people that live there will be doing the farming.  They plan to distribute the produce they grow to local restaurants and farmers’ markets, and eventually want to open their own farm stand on the property.

Talmage says, “It’s really nice that it’s come full circle now for the Walker House.”

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Categories: News, Rhode Island