An Unexpected Lesson
By Jamie Gillette
Before spending a day at the Almy-Thurston Farm with George Thurston and his family, I was admittedly impartial to the issue of land conservation on Aquidneck Island. I tagged along with my school advisor, Rich Ferri, to assist him in filming what would be the pilot for a series profiling farmers who have chosen to conserve.
Although I went to learn the technicalities of camera work I came away with a newfound appreciation for the Thurstons and the service of the Aquidneck Land Trust. Especially impactful was George’s relationship with his farm and his daughter, Laura, to whom he will soon pass on the land. George spoke powerfully to the changes he’s witnessed on the island throughout his lifetime: the development from five or six houses on one street to the populated neighborhoods we have now, the issues that arose as people replaced their former neighbors (cows) and the struggle for these farmers that came with the population influx post-World War II.
As a native Rhode Islander, it is humbling to learn of my state’s past, and I believe George’s story makes the case for preserving this history for future generations. Putting faces and families to these historic local areas serves as an important reminder that conserving land also means conserving legacy.
Watch: Voices of the Land – George Thurston
Photo: (back, left to right) Rich Ferri, Siobhan Thurston, Chuck Allott, Katherine Gagliano, Jamie Gillette, (front, left to right) George Thurston, and Laura Thurston with Shelby
Jamie Gillette is a senior at the East Bay MET School. She currently writes for the Newport Mercury Newspaper and intends to pursue a major in the written arts.