Recent Success Stories
Spruce Acres Farm, Middletown & Portsmouth, RI
In July 2016, ALT announced an ambitious new project at its annual fundraiser: the purchase and conservation of Spruce Acres Farm, a property at risk of imminent development on the Middletown and Portsmouth line. A year later, with the help of donations from 600+ individuals, grants from both the Town of Middletown and Town of Portsmouth, a grant from the State of Rhode Island Agricultural Land Preservation Commission, and the help of multiple foundations, ALT successfully purchased the 22.7-acre property for the $2 million purchase price.
Spruce Acres has numerous important conservation values. It has prime farmland soil, is located within the Sisson Pond drinking supply watershed, provides wildlife habitat for various small mammals, birds, and pollinator, and is adjacent to other conserved lands. The property also includes 1.5 miles of trails, numerous outbuildings, an historic barn and a farmhouse.
Today, Spruce Acres is a publicly-accessible property with walking trails, community gardens, picnic areas, and interpretive signage. It is open daily from dawn ’til dusk, and has ample parking. Please come visit this lovely property, located at 1286 East Main Road in Middletown. ⌃
Arnow Property, Middletown, RI
The Arnow property was protected in 2015 and is located in Middletown, near the Norman Bird Sanctuary. The 12.49-acre parcel was a high priority for a number of reasons. It is partially located within the Maidford River/Paradise Brook watersheds, includes prime farmland soil, is 20% woodland with walking trails, includes wildlife habitat for small mammals and birds, and has a historic barn. This property is an example of a privately owned parcel with multiple conservation benefits. It does offer public access.
The property provides a scenic backdrop along Third Beach Road and is at the southern tip of the corridor of protected open space known as the Sakonnet Greenway. Howland Avenue was formerly the road to the Taggart’s Ferry Landing, a ferry line that ferried produce from Little Compton to Newport from the 1700s until 1870. The property even hosts a cricket league on one its fields.
ALT worked with Dr. Louis Arnow to permanently protect the land he had lived on for decades. “I’m glad my mission and the Land Trust’s aligned. I’ve been on this beautiful property since the late 1960s. It means a lot to me to know my property is now preserved forever,” said Louis Arnow, when the easement was final.
The land continues to serve as habitat, the local cricket pitch, and even hosted our annual volunteer and landowner appreciation party in 2017. It is with deep regret that we report news of Dr. Arnow’s passing in 2020, and we will always to be grateful to him for his foresight and generosity in working with ALT to permanently conserve his land. ⌃
St. Mary’s Church, Portsmouth, RI
St. Mary’s Church is an example of a long but fruitful conservation deal. In 2011 ALT and St. Mary’s entered into a contractual agreement to conserve the 72 acres of land in Portsmouth in perpetuity. Even with delays along the way, St. Mary’s exhibited great patience, and by January 2015, we finally arranged all the funding and details to permanently protect the property!
ALT raised over $3 million in grant awards and cash from the State of RI Agricultural Land Preservation Commission, USDA-NRCS, the Town of Portsmouth, six foundations, and 40 individuals. The property includes approximately 50 acres of prime soil farmland and 22 acres of riparian forest along the border of St. Mary’s Pond, one of the drinking supplies on Aquidneck Island.
The project provides prime farmland for farmers; protects our source water quality in the St. Mary’s Pond watershed; serves an excellent habitat for a variety of bird, small mammal, and amphibian species; offers a scenic viewscape from East Main Road; and preserves open space along the busy East Main Road transportation corridor. It is also connected to other conservation lands, creating a larger habitat and view corridor as part of the Center Island Greenway.
ALT owns 24.7 acres of the farmland which it currently leases as hayfields to Aquidneck Farms. The remaining 48.4-acre parcel remains under ownership of the Gibbs Trust, but is subject to a conservation easement held by the Aquidneck Land Trust. While the property can be viewed from East Main Road or St. Mary’s Church, it is currently leased for farming and is not publicly accessible. ⌃