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NRCS and Narragansett Indian Tribe Collaborate on First Elder Community Garden

WARWICK, RI (October 22, 2015) -- The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service of Rhode Island (USDA-NRCS) and the Narragansett Indian Tribe entered into an agreement in FY 2015 to build the first community garden on reservation land in Charlestown, RI where tribal elders will assist in the development of the garden.  NRCS provided $10,000 in funding through Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) while the Narragansett Indian Tribe provided in-kind contributions worth over $5,000 for the volunteer labor, donated materials, and equipment required to construct the garden.    

Narragansett Tribal Workers Pose in Community GardenThe agreement is the first of its kind in Rhode Island where the Narragansett Indian Tribe and NRCS have a common purpose to promote the conservation and sustainable use of land, water, wildlife, and related resources.  This agreement provides educational and outreach opportunities highlighting the importance of fresh produce and opportunities to garden for historically underserved communities such as the Indian Tribes.  This agreement and partnership supports USDA Secretary Vilsack’s People’s Garden Initiative which stresses renewed interest in community gardening with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables.  In addition, it assists the local community to ensure the safety and improve the quality of locally produced fruits and vegetables along with protecting and conserving our soil and water resources on the Indian Reservation.  The garden was planned to accommodate the needs of the Narragansett Indian elders.  Thus, it was conveniently located adjacent to the Narragansett Indian Tribe Community Center frequented by the elders where their meals are prepared.  In addition, the garden consist of 19 raised beds which are higher than traditional raised beds and includes a seating area and shaded benches to allow elders to rest as needed when planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting fruits and vegetables. 

In addition to the work on the community garden, Rhode Island NRCS and the Narragansett Indian Tribe entered into a multiyear agreement for $89,000 through Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) to provide technical support to potential Farm Bill program applicants and current contract holders.  Such applicants 

NRCS Employee Explains Information at NIT Workshop

and contract holders include those throughout Rhode Island where some are Narragansett Tribal members who own private land and have an interest in implementing NRCS conservation practices on their property.  To promote NRCS programs, the Narragansett Indian Tribe coordinated with NRCS staff to hold some outreach workshops specifically targeted to the Narragansett Indian Tribe where the Farm Service Agency and Rural Development also participated to highlight services available.