Inside the Packhouse at Farm Fresh RI

 

  

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.

 

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Pawtucket’s Historic Hydropower

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.

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United Way Portrait Shoot

Earlier this year the United Way hired me to photograph the 211 staff. The 211 staff are highly trained and caring specialists who are available to Rhode Islanders to find help for everything from addiction issues, to food, shelter and heating assistance. Since 2007 the program averages 200,000 calls a year. The portrait project was part of a campaign to show the human face of the 211 specialists on the other end of the phone line.

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Optimism in Providence

On January 5th I had the great honor of photographing the inauguration events for the new Mayor of Providence, Jorge Elorza. Working with my assistant, John Tavares, we documented the day’s events from the swearing-in ceremony to the inaugural party.

20150105_678As I followed Jorge Elorza throughout the day I kept thinking about what he had already accomplished in his life. Elorza, whose parents immigrated to Rhode Island from Guatemala, attended Providence public schools, then URI, followed by Harvard Law School. I was witnessing the “American Dream”; what an inspiring role model Elorza is for the young and the old.

Through the camera I was capturing the events as they unfolded during the day but in my mind I was also thinking about the past and the future. I was witnessing more than just the Inauguration of a new Mayor. City hall had changed. The city was changing. A new wave of ethnic minorities were now settling and thriving in Rhode Island.

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Taking in the crowd before the ceremonies get underway                Out-going Mayor Angel Taveras makes a surprise visit
20150105_221020150105_753Judge Darigan, Jr. giving the Oath of Office                                    Mom & Dad Elorza

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20150105_1311 The Mayor’s vision of One Providence is realized at the Inaugural Celebration at the Armory
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A Morning at Wishing Stone Farm

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.

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The farm works fields sprinkled throughout Little Compton, so harvesting involves short drives from field to field with baskets, gathering the variety of crops.

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Back at the farm the vegetables are sorted and cleaned and repacked for the market.

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Liz hand picks her favorites

20140827_371-2 20140827_445-2Chickens spend the day socializing. They live in a movable building that resembles a train caboose.

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20140827_485 20140827_502By noon the truck is loaded up for the trip to the market in Providence.

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Alden Restoration

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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.

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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.

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Chet Kason is pictured here rebuilding the deck of the boat.

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Watch this space for more of the Alden story.

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Winter Light

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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.

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Our dog Sam enjoying two of his favorite things – snow and the beach.

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