Middletown, RI. – May 13, 2021 – Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) has awarded thirteen grants totaling $18,000 to local community and neighborhood groups through its annual grant program, the Merritt Neighborhood Fund. Grant awards ranged from $500 to $2,500.

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. It has awarded grants each year since its founding, distributing over $146,000 in total. A committee of ALT volunteers and board members determines the awards.

“We received grant submissions for many wonderful projects this year,” said Chuck Allott, ALT Executive Director. “It gives us great pleasure to support tree and landscape plantings, non-profit gardens, community and educational gardens, and other public enhancements that encourage an appreciation of the outdoors. Though each award is modest, collectively they improve our community by instilling neighborhood pride and fostering an appreciation for the natural world.” A 2017 grant from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation has enabled ALT to increase its Merritt Neighborhood Fund distribution in recent years.

Awards were given to the following applicants:
• Aquidneck Community Table: improvements to the Food Forest
• Bike Newport: solar water pump at community gardens
• Newport Boys & Girls Club: restoration of exterior landscaping
• Butts Hill Fort Restoration/Portsmouth Historical Society: removal of vegetation at historic site
• Daffodillion: daffodil bulbs for island beautification
• Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District: four raised garden beds at Portsmouth Aginnovation
• God’s Community Garden: garden supplies and improvements
• Norman Bird Sanctuary: improvements to vegetable garden and preparation area
• Newport Tree Conservancy: planting of 30 trees at Miantonomi Park
• The Pennfield School: raised bed gardens for the Outdoor Classroom
• Portsmouth Garden Club: improvements to three public gardens
• St. John the Evangelist Church: landscaping on west side of the church grounds
• Town of Middletown: bike racks for public beaches

Information on the 2022 Merritt Neighborhood Awards will be announced in February, 2022.