Growing up, people are always taught to share and work as a team, regardless of how difficult the task. Leaders say, “There is no I in team,” or “Do your part,” and understanding what is meant by these statements and the depth of them became clear through my summer internship. The collaboration between the Charlestown Land Trust and The Charlestown Farmers Market have the definition of a true partnership, and it can be observed by visiting the market and being put to work.
Before researching, learning and becoming involved with the Charlestown Land Trust and its connection to the farmers market, I am embarrassed to say that my knowledge of a farmers market and the goals were limited. It is an understatement to say that I clearly did not understand the work farmers do to provide good produce for the community. Yes, crops are equivalent to farmers, but there’s so much more to farming. After participating in the Charlestown Farmers Market’s 2018 season, which ran from June 22 to Aug. 31, I have learned the value of a collaborative union and an eager community.
In 1996 the Charlestown Land Trust began with a simple mission to preserve and protect the character of Charlestown by gaining and managing the open areas of this beloved town. Fast-forward 22 years, and the foundation continues to grow stronger, now with over 200 active member families.
The majority of the work is done through volunteers and that has provided the energy that runs the Charlestown Land Trust Farmers Market. The first four years of the market were hosted at Cross’ Mills Public Library in Charlestown and the last seven at the Church of the Holy Spirit. The land trust committee had to do some research on a new location after the first four years. The market was growing and needed extra parking to ensure that everyone would be able to check out the weekly items and visitors remain safe. They decided to approach the Church of the Holy Spirit. The church agreed to allow the land trust to use their grounds for the market, and a new thriving partnership was born.
The Charlestown Farmers Market includes everything from fresh local produce to organic lotions/ oils and anything that a person could need or want in life. In addition, there is always a kids’ craft table, which the church sponsors to encourage an environmental education that children need to make a difference in the world. The kids can then take their environment-friendly craft home with them and share with family and friends.
Eileen Lindeman, priest at the Church of the Holy Spirit, believes it is their calling to serve others and the community for the common good of humanity. In creating this partnership, there is a mutual respect, as well as a benefit, in sharing the church’s space each Friday. Karen Jarret, president of the Charlestown Land Trust, raves about the beautiful grounds, the extra parking, and the generous spirit of the church. Lindeman and Jarret share a belief in the value of community exposure. As Lindeman says, “A rising tide lifts all boats ….” The Charlestown community and beyond is benefiting from this alliance.
Another aspect in which the Charlestown Land Trust partners with the Church of the Holy Spirit is through the various nonprofits lined up each Friday. More than one nonprofit organization comes and spreads awareness through demonstrations and even gives away free goodies to the local community. Some of the nonprofits that we have had the pleasure of working with this summer have been URI Master Gardeners, Domestic Violence Resource Center, Hera Gallery, Save the Bay, People’s Power and Light, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and many more. In fact, one of our more local nonprofits, Southern RI Volunteers, has flourished with several volunteers and is working with Perspectives, a group home, that helps the market every week. In addition, there are local students who participate to gain volunteer hours for school.
The church and land trust agree that preserving and protecting land is their responsibility now and in the future. Church of the Holy Spirit is continuing on the efforts to work with those in need in the community. They are looking into a system in which bagged lunches are distributed to those who may be in need, to prevent the food from going to waste. Likewise, the land trust is very excited about the new opening of the Patricia Sprague Forest Preserve located on Railroad Avenue in Charlestown. It opened on Aug. 26 and features 28 acres of land along the river. Both organizations seek support and guidance on their respective goals.
After learning about Jarret and Lindeman’s mission, I asked them to share one message for the community and what they said would make anyone feel at peace and hopeful for years to come. Jarret stated that “the appreciation of the church’s grounds combines and encourages community gatherings and education of the environment as a whole.” Lindeman wrapped up our interview “… loving people, loving creatures, loving Earth, it’s all connected and it’s a reflection of loving God!”
Their collaborative union is one of dedication, thought and commitment that goes into creating and maintaining such a lovely partnership. Without a doubt one can feel this love from the moment you drive into the parking lot, and it will stay with you throughout the rest of your day.
Julia DeGiovanni, a Hope Valley resident, is a student at the University of Rhode Island and an intern with the Charlestown Land Trust.