Part of what I love about Farm Fresh is that its mission is simple and sensible, yet its holistic approach to building and supporting a local food system has made a huge impact. I recently got a glimpse inside the heart of Farm Fresh when I was invited behind the green walls to photograph work at the Packhouse.
It’s 5:30am on a cold, dark winter morning and the place is a buzz of activity. During the day, food is delivered from farms, dairies and producers from all over Rhode Island. Pickers gather the food and box it up to fill orders. The pickers move fast between walk in freezers, refrigerators and dry storage spaces, filling boxes that move down the conveyors. Each box is then checked and double-checked before it is placed on a pallet to be wheeled through the mill space to the two Farm Fresh trucks on the loading dock.
The workflow here is similar to any distribution center like Stop & Shop or Amazon, but this is Farm Fresh. It feels more like a small family business. There is a lot of love packed into these boxes. There is a face and a life and a story behind everything that comes in and out of this modest space. In a year or two, they plan to move to a much bigger location, so we will be able to look back and remember how much they have grown.
The Blackstone River has provided power to Pawtucket for over 200 years. It is known as the birthplace of the industrial revolution in America. In 1793 Slater Mill became the first factory in America to produce cotton yarn with water powered machines.
Just below the Slater Mill sits the Bridge Mill power plant, built in 1896. Attached to the original plant are 2 newer 850 kilowatt generators that supply enough electricity to power 672 homes. A few months ago I had the opportunity to go inside the plant and then inside one of the turbines that had been shut down for maintenance. I had no idea the river was still producing such significant amount of power to our town.
The other day I spent the morning at Wishing Stone Farm in Little Compton, RI, which my wife and I buy organic produce from almost every week of the year. It was a Wednesday, so the morning was spent gathering and preparing for the Farmers Market in Providence later that afternoon.
The farm works fields sprinkled throughout Little Compton, so harvesting involves short drives from field to field with baskets, gathering the variety of crops.
Back at the farm the vegetables are sorted and cleaned and repacked for the market.
Liz hand picks her favorites
Chickens spend the day socializing. They live in a movable building that resembles a train caboose.
By noon the truck is loaded up for the trip to the market in Providence.
Two years ago, after living in the Ocean State for 25 years, I learned how to sail. I took sailing classes at the Community Boating Center in Providence I was immediately hooked. I sailed with friends in Providence and also started crewing with the Alden fleet in Sakonnet during their summer Saturday races.
The original Alden “Sakonnet Class” was built in 1939. In the 1930’s it was common to have a class of sailboats designed and built for the unique sailing conditions of a yacht club. RI native John Alden designed and built the Sakonnet Class with a heavy wooden hull, deep keel and high freeboard to make them fun and stable for the big swells around Sakonnet Point.
The constant care and maintenance required of these classic wooden sailboats is a labor of love. Over this winter I’ve been documenting the restoration work of the “Cutty Wow,” taking place at Mt Hope Boatworks in Newport. The work is being overseen by Jim Titus, and Alden master craftsman, Jeff Szala.
Chet Kason is pictured here rebuilding the deck of the boat.
Watch this space for more of the Alden story.
In between snowstorms we took a drive to Little Compton. The ocean looks different in every season. The sun and the water were putting on a light show. I love that bright strip of light on the horizon. It reminds me of the flash from a welder’s torch, it almost hurts to look right at it.
Our dog Sam enjoying two of his favorite things – snow and the beach.