2016-06-09 / Opinion


A Place of Abundance and Solace

We don’t hesitate to use this space to implore our public officials to do their jobs better, or to offer our opinions either for or against issues circulating in the public domain.

It’s not often, though, that we herald something that is, well, just nice.

So today’s the exception. We took a walk a few days ago, and our pursuit of exercise brought us to the corner of Marlborough and Farewell streets, where the White Horse Tavern sits as it has since 1673. Across the street from the historic tavern you’ll find a newcomer to the Newport summer scene, identified by a sign that reads, the “Island Community Garden @ Great Friends Meeting House.” We are further informed by the sign that this is a project of Aquidneck Community Table, or “ACT”

Amid all of the history represented by the tavern and the circa 1699 Quaker Meeting House sit about two dozen neat and tidy four-by-eight foot elevated garden boxes, protected by a three-foot wood and wire fence. On the day we walked by, a couple was tending to their tomato plants, two young men were playing catch with a Frisbee on the expansive lawn and two men were sitting beneath what appeared to be a young maple tree in earnest conversation.

We think the garden and the surrounding scene adds an air of civility to this busy city intersection. We applaud the Newport Historical Society— which owns the land where the new garden sits—for renting two of the garden plots—the cost is $50 a year. We also toss a bouquet to the folks at the food pantry at the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, as well as the McKinney Shelter. Both have garden plots at the site.

There are a few rules and restrictions for would-be gardeners that we wholeheartedly support. While renters can pretty much plant whatever vegetables and flowers that please them, the plots must be well-maintained and they must “grow organically and use no pesticides.”

We like the way that Bevan Linsley, ACT project director, describes the positive impact that gardens such as these can have on a community. As she told Newport This Week’s Betsy Walker: “They bring people together across the boundaries that so often divide us. They teach children a skill that can build a deep and lifelong sense of self-sufficiency, and beyond all that they create a place of abundance and solace in this hectic world of ours.”

Who could ask for anything more?

We also hope that as the summer wears on and these gardens blossom or bear fruit, they do not become targets for vandals or for others who would simply like to abuse a common honor code or grab a “free” tomato.

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