Middletown, RI. – March 14, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) is accepting applications for grants from the Merritt Neighborhood Fund, which supports the preservation of small parks, community gardens, and other natural spaces on Aquidneck Island. Established in 1999 to honor the late Peter M. Merritt, the organization’s president emeritus, the Fund supports projects that strengthen community identity and character, and which model the ethic of land conservation and stewardship through community volunteerism. Grants typically range from $250 to $2500.
“The Merritt Fund has enabled Islanders to improve and beautify their public spaces for the past 19 years.” said Chuck Allott, Executive Director of ALT. “Last year, we awarded 15 grants totaling over $14,000 to local community and neighborhood groups. It is wonderful to see the creativity and effort poured into these projects, which benefit so many residents and visitors on Aquidneck Island.”
Some of the projects funded last year were the creation of garden beds at Emmanuel Church, new plantings for the Rochambeau Wall Garden, bench installations at Paradise Park, improvements to Legion Park and the Portsmouth Dog Park, the creation of a vegetable garden at Portsmouth Middle School, improvements to the vegetable garden at Rogers High School, and signage in Miantonomi Park.
A full list of 2017 awards and applications for 2018 Merritt Neighborhood Fund grants may be found on the ALT website (https://ailt.org/our-work/merritt-fund/). Applications must be submitted by Friday, April 6, 2018. Award decisions will be announced in early June.

Middletown, RI. – March 5, 2018 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) recently announced the launch of Farmlink Aquidneck, an online resource for Rhode Island farmers. Created to address concerns specific to local farmers, Farmlink Aquidneck provides information on topics such as farm support organizations, workshops, succession and business planning, and professional references.

“ALT has always been committed to preserving farmland and supporting agriculture on Aquidneck Island. Farmlink Aquidneck furthers those efforts and provides a new way for ALT to share information and resources to the farming community,” said Alex Chuman, ALT’s Stewardship Director. One of Farmlink’s primary features, Land-Link, connects those with farmland available for sale or lease to those seeking it. “Access to farmland – both for purchase and for lease – is a problem for many on our island and in the state. We frequently receive calls from folks looking for land to farm, both for small plots and large. The Land-Link site will make it easier to connect landowners with farmers looking for land,” said Chuman.

Since its unveiling in late December, Land-Link has listed two properties with available farmland. One is Spruce Acres Farm, a former tree farm now owned and conserved by ALT on the Middletown/Portsmouth border. It features plots under one acre in size, available for the 2019 growing season. A second property, Highfield Farm, is located on Peckham Avenue in Middletown and offers nine acres of farmland for short- or long-term lease.

Farmlink Aquidneck was created to address the findings from ALT’s Farmland Conservation Plan, completed in 2016. The plan focused on ways to protect farmland and increase the viability of farming on Aquidneck Island, using a combination of literature research, farmer surveys, farmer interviews, on-the-ground knowledge, and spatial data to inform its findings. It was underwritten by the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, as was the creation of the Farmlink Aquidneck resource. Both may be seen at https://ailt.org/farmlink-aquidneck/.