Large Selection of Local Foods Available for Sampling
PROVIDENCE - To recognize the importance of the state's $1.7 billion agriculture and green industries, the Department of Environmental Management will host Rhode Island Agriculture Day at the State House on Thursday, April 25.
This year's RI Agriculture Day program will recognize the 100th anniversary of the RI Fruit Growers Association with the preview of a new documentary film on the state's apple industry, entitled "Vanishing Orchards." In addition, the event will highlight a new initiative to promote and market local seafood as well as ongoing programs to maintain the viability of farming in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island Agriculture Day will showcase Rhode Island's agriculture industry and all that it brings to the state. Farming is an integral part of the state's economy and provides a valuable contribution to Rhode Island's open space and quality of life. Beyond fresh and local produce, meat, nursery stock, sod and Rhode Island's own Rhody Fresh milk, agriculture contributes to tourism, open space, landscaping businesses, and a variety of food-related industries. The event will also continue to highlight the statewide "Get Fresh. Buy Local." campaign and farmers' markets.
As part of the Rhode Island Agriculture Day festivities, approximately 50 exhibitors will host displays in the State House Rotunda from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibitors will include farms, local food purveyors, and land trusts, as well as government and non-profit agencies that work with farmers. Coordinated by DEM's Division of Agriculture, the exhibits will highlight Rhode Island agriculture and the many organizations that collectively participate in its viability.
Large Variety of Locally-Grown Foods Available for Sampling
Several exhibitors will offer food samples, such as stuffed quahogs from Dave's Marketplace; fresh cupcakes and their own cheddar cheese directly from Wright's Dairy Farm and Bakery; assorted cheeses from Narragansett Creamery; oysters from Matunuck Oyster Farm; johnnycakes from the Kenyon's Grist and Corn Meal Company; Rhody Fresh milk and Butterkase cheese from the RI Dairy Farms Cooperative; egg sandwiches, Greek yogurt and Del's liquid lemonade from Little Rhody Foods; and Arruda Dairy's fresh plain and flavored milk including chocolate and coffee. Also, fresh cider from Jaswell's Farm in Smithfield; fresh made fudge from Confreda Farms and Greenhouse in Cranston; Cabot Cheese made with milk from RI dairy farms; Rich's Sweet Heat sauce for RI-grown vegetables and meats; fresh assorted pies from Gardner Pie Company; and wine from RI vineyards will be available for sampling.
Rhode Island has 1,219 farms, mostly family run, which occupy 61,000 acres. The state has a growing number of farmers markets (40 +) and other retail venues and collaborative efforts. According to the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, Rhode Island was ranked number three in the country for direct marketing sales of fruits and vegetables from farms to consumers, on a per farm basis. Rhode Island also had $6.3 million worth of agriculture sales sold directly to the public, equal to 9.5 percent of all agriculture market sales, which ranked Rhode Island first in the US for percentage of direct market sales. The recent Green Industry Economic Impact Study funded by DEM and conducted by URI conservatively estimates that total agricultural revenues in Rhode Island are $170.6 million, two and a half times USDA's 2007 estimate of $65.9 million.
The Agriculture Day speaking program will begin at 2 p.m. in the Governor's State Room, and the exhibits will be on display until 5 p.m. in the State House Rotunda. Along with Governor Lincoln Chafee, participants in the program will include DEM Director Janet Coit; Shannon Brawley, executive director of the RI Nursery and Landscape Association and EDC board member; Senator Susan Sosnowski; Representative Art Handy; and Sandi and Gil Barden of Barden Family Orchards in North Scituate.