Tomorrow will be a lively and green day at the Newport market!

MaxMan, Rhode Island’s friendly recycling superhero, will be visiting the market to celebrate the market’s new recycling and composting programs between 2 and 6 p.m. tomorrow. Visitors to the market can now bring compostable materials to market for composting at Island Community Farms and can recycle many market materials during their visit thanks to a collaboration between the Growers’ Market, Sustainable Aquidneck, The City of Newport’s Clean City Program, Island Community Farms @ Green End, EcoRI Public Works and Newport Restaurant Group, sponsors of the new composting program.

By bringing kitchen food scraps to the market for composting supporters will close the loop between food waste and food production, turning material that would otherwise end up in a landfill into food for the future, turning kichen waste into “black gold” at this local farm. Please go to EcoRI’s website for a full list of acceptable materials for composting or email [email protected].  Questions about Island Community Farms and likes of support can be made through www.facebook.com/sustainableaquidneck.

 In addition to these new programs this week also marks the first annual Bike to Market week, sponsored by Farm Fresh RI with the support of the Growers Markets in Newport and Middletown and Bike Newport.  Bike riders to tomorrows Newport market will be able to park their bikes safely and enjoy a basic bike tune-up/repair courtesy of Bike Newport who will also offer bike safety equipment, bike  cargo solutions and information about bike safety and community ride calendars.  Anyone riding their bicycle to the Newport market on Wednesday (2-6) or the Middletown market on Saturday, August 25 (9-1) will have a chance to win a gift certificate, donated by Newport Bicycles and Pedal Power.

 Bari George of Bike Newport said “We’re so pleased to partner with the farmers markets to encourage market-goers to trade their car for bikes to the market! Pull up without any parking worries and ride home with panniers full of the freshest and healthiest local products.  Biking to a local farmers market is a pretty darn ideal experience, so hop in the saddle and find out the best way to the market is on two wheels!”  Bike Newport works to improve and encourage bicycling in Newport and encourages residents and visitors to have fun while reducing traffic congestion by replacing their cars with bicycles for local short-distance travel.

 Newport’s Clean City program will be selling recycling bins & compost bins at the Aquidneck Growers Market from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., on Wednesday, August 22.  Recycling bins will be $5 each and compost bins are $45 each for Newport residents with proof of Newport residency.  Cash and credit/debit cards cannot be accepted so please plan to pay by check.  Residents may also turn in old recycling bins for recycling. The Clean City Program will have information available at the market about the City’s solid waste and recycling collection program.   For more information please call 845-5613.

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Profile: Barden Family Orchard

A closer look at Aquidneck Growers’ Market vendor, Barden Family Orchard.

John Barden and Hazel Dean were married in 1930 and founded Barden Family Orchard in 1931. They planted some of the first apple trees along the eastern edge of the orchard. These trees are the oldest trees on the farm, and are evidence to John Barden’s keen interest in the science of apple growing. They were “grafted” many years ago, meaning that a new cutting was placed in the notch of a branch of an existing tree to produce an additional variety on that tree. These particular trees have a mixture of Cortland, Macintosh, and Macoun branches on them. John was excited to experiment with new apple varieties and enjoyed growing fruit into his early 80’s.

Like his grandfather, Gilbert also has a strong interest in horticulture, and loves to farm. In the 1980’s, he and his grandfather began to replant much of the orchard to both semi dwarf apple trees as well as peaches. He also began to plant pumpkins and winter squash for more diversity. This was an exciting change for the customers. Not only could they pick apples and peaches, but they could also pick a pumpkin for Halloween.

Barden Family Orchard now grows many varieties of apples, pumpkins, winter squash, peaches, and sweet corn, and has added raspberries, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers and eggplant. We are excited to offer blueberries in 2009. We thank our customers for their encouragement, ideas and patience as we have grown.

As our love of farming and the land have expanded, so have our farming and conservation practices. The Natural Resources Conservation Service helped to design a drip irrigation system that was installed on the farm in the early 1990’s. The same type of drip irrigation system was installed in 2008 on the remainder of the farm. This is the most efficient use of one of our most important resources. As members of the Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association (www.rifruitgrowers.org) we attend meetings in cooperation with the Massachusetts Fruit Growers Association. We work closely with the Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts Cooperative Extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programs to produce our fruit in the safest and most environmentally conscious manner. We use IPM to more effectively use the safest crop protectants, (IPM www.epa.gov/opp00001/factsheets/ipm.htm).

In 2005, we became fulltime farmers, dedicating ourselves to growing quality fruits and vegetables for those who are dedicated to buying locally grown produce. Since then, the entire Barden Family has been involved in the farm. We work together from crop production through harvest, attending farmer’s markets around Rhode Island, and meeting our customers who make their annual trip to pick apples and peaches, or those who purchase freshly picked fruits and vegetables at our new farm market that opened in 2007. Currently, Gilbert, Sandra, Andrew, Stacey, and Luke Barden actively work during the growing season at the farm, and are dedicated to growing the finest quality and best tasting fruit and vegetables for your family. We invite you to come and enjoy our farm.

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Profile: Aquidneck Farms

A closer look at Aquidneck Growers’ Market vendor, Aquidneck Farms.

Aquidneck Farms raises grass-fed beef & pastured poultry on conservation land overlooking the scenic Sakonnet River in Portsmouth, RI.

HISTORY

The story of Aquidneck Farms begins in 1998 when the van Beuren siblings took control of a run down 240-acre farm. Once a country estate renowned for its prizewinning Jersey dairy cattle and Hereford beef, the property had been out of active agriculture for decades. None of the siblings were farmers but all had a passion for land conservation. Portsmouth like much of coastal New England was and still is under enormous development pressure. The siblings were unified in their mutual interest to find an environmentally sustainable, economically viable use for the property. After five years of planning the land was divided between the three. A conservation easement limited future building and restricted land use to agriculture. Inspired by the property’s livestock legacy one sibling decided to reestablish cattle. And so in 2003 Aquidneck Farms began making hay and grass silage and experimenting with cattle breeds with the intention of building a grass-fed beef business.

Today Aquidneck Farms manages close to 400 acres of prime agricultural land all within one mile of the original farm. Our 125 head herd is a mix of pure Angus and an Angus/Hereford cross. Last year we added poultry and produce eggs and chicken broilers. In addition we make hay & grass silage to feed our animals and compost to fertilize our pastures. Any surplus is sold in the local farm community. Aquidneck Farms products are available at local farmer’s markets, in specialty stores and restaurants as well as directly off the farm.

GRASS-FED BEEF

In today’s market there are a number of labels used to describe sustainable meats. At Aquidneck Farms we have chosen just one: grass-fed.

Most of our cattle is born on the farm, raised on mother’s milk and naturally weaned on lush legume pastures. The herd is carefully selected for genetics that will thrive in a grass-based system. Aquidneck Farms beef is 100% grass-fed. During the summer months the herd is rotationally grazed on our carefully managed pastures. For winter feed we grow, harvest and store specially planted grasses in the form of dry hay and grass silage. We do not use hormones or add prophylactic antibiotics to our feed. Nor do we finish with grain. We avoid pesticides and fertilize the pastures with our own manure, chicken droppings and farm made compost.

All of our beef is slaughtered and processed in USDA facilities in Rhode Island. Our farm management plan is approved by NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) and all our practices reviewed by DEM (Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management)

Why should you eat grass-fed beef?

  • Grass-fed beef contains elevated levels of vitamins A & E, conjugated linoleic acids and omega-3 fatty acids all of which have been shown to lower cholesterol & high blood pressure and decrease the risk of cancer & diabetes.
  • Grass-fed beef is lower in fat & calories. A typical 6oz. steak has 100 less calories than its grain fed commercial counterpart.
  • Ruminants (cattle) are not biologically designed to eat grain. Corn makes them sick. That is why commercial producers add antibiotics to their feed. The dramatic increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria is partially attributed to the use of prophylactic antibiotics in animal feed.
  • Feedlots are breeding grounds for bacteria that cause food born illness. In addition e-coli is naturally present in a cow’s digestive system. Corn/grain feed proliferates its growth. There is a significantly lower incidence of e-coli contamination in cattle raised on grass pasture.

 

PASTURED POULTRY

 Commodity poultry practices have a lot in common with commodity beef. Birds are raised in enormous, overcrowded, enclosed pens with little light, no exercise and medicated feed. Because of the scale and resulting conditions commodity birds are also more prone disease and bacteris such as salmonella.

Our pastured birds are raised in mobile outdoor pens with built in coops called “chicken tractors”. The “tractors” are placed in recently vacated cow pasture and are moved daily. Our birds never lack fresh ground nor their favorite meal: bugs and insect eggs. They have plenty of light, air, fresh water & exercise and are protected from predators. (We have a healthy hawk population.) We supplement their diet with grain but do not medicate the feed.

Aside from bird health, raising poultry outdoors has a beneficial impact not only on our pastures and but also the herd. Chicken droppings are nitrogen rich. Along with aerating the ground in their search for lunch poultry reduce the need for store bought fertilizers. Chickens also aid in herd pest control. The fly population is dramatically reduced when chickens are on site.

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