Nurturing Community with the Charlestown Land Trust
By Sara Porcaro | July 9, 2019
Down the long, peaceful roads towards Charlestown, where grassy fields soak up the sun and trees wave in the slight summer breeze, one soon comes to the Church of the Holy Spirit on Old Post Road. The morning is already off to a great start for the vendors and volunteers of the 12th annual Charlestown Land Trust (CLT) Farmer's Market, where an assortment of locally grown and handcrafted products sit ready for patrons to purchase. And there alongside vendors, patrons, and CLT members are the volunteers who assist in setting up the tents and other equipment--including Patrick, Melissa, Don, and Jeff!
Since 1996, this private non-profit group has been dedicated to keeping the natural Charlestown character intact by conserving and protecting the land. To date, they've protected 640 acres. It's their vision to "protect the natural resources, waterways, wildlife, and scenic beauty" of the town in order to keep the community vibrant, healthy, and connected--and part of achieving that vision over the last twelve years has been by hosting and supporting local vendors to sell their wares, such as Lazy K Ranch, Stoney Hill Cattle, Sand Hill Cove Photography, Audrey's Creations, Burnside Acres, and more.
Last year, the CLT was searching for volunteers, and Senior Director Andrew McQuaide and Community Liaison Alexus Larney made the connection; from there, several enthusiastic individuals agreed to volunteer their time to the CLT Farmer's Market. From the early morning set-up of the tents, where they help bring vendors' equipment out to the stands and take out the trash and recycling, to the end of the day, when everything is packed up until the next week, the volunteers are out working hard--and enjoying the afternoons spent with their fellow community members.
"Volunteers are crucial," says Market Manager Julia Bancroft, "especially when they're as enthusiastic as Patrick, Melissa, Dave, and the others. They set the tone for the day."
Along with the main tasks, Melissa especially loves watering flowers, and Patrick enjoys getting to talk to vendors and patrons alike as the sun climbs high in the sky. As well, one of our friends, Kara, has become a vendor herself with her lemonade stand, Lady Lemonade--and many of her friends come to support her business. It's more than a market, with many people from Charlestown and other places in Rhode Island gathering to reconnect, support one another, and make new friendships.
"I like the music," Melissa says, noting the musicians singing for patrons on the grass. "I like to be here with everyone."
Alexus, Intern Rachel Ferreira, and Service Coordinator Rachel Morgan are also there to represent Perspectives as a community partner, just as the University of Rhode Island Cooperative and other groups are, to help spread awareness about new opportunities. They work alongside the volunteers in running the Perspectives vendor tent, where they share information about the many dedicated, hardworking individuals looking to give back to their communities through volunteering.
"It's a great opportunity for both individuals we support and the CLT," Alexus says. "They get awesome volunteers to help set up the Farmer's Market and spotlight local vendors, and we get the chance to help out the community and find new volunteer opportunities."
The CLT Farmer's Market is open every Friday, from June 21st to August 30th. If you're looking for homemade pottery and jewelry, local produce, meat, bread, oysters, and honey, or you simply want to come down and enjoy the afternoon with everyone, the Church of the Holy Spirit on Old Post Road is the place to be! Many thanks to the CLT for their volunteer opportunities and community work!
Know a local organization or project that needs more hands on deck? Contact Alexus at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about individuals looking to volunteer!