Blue Skys Farm in Cranston, RI chemical-free
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
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Cranston, RI - Blue Skys Flower Farm, in Cranston RI, is a one acre flower, herb, and vegetable farm. Christina Dedora started the farm about five years ago.
When I visited Blue Skys Flower Farm, I got lost, quelle surprise, because the sign said Urban Edge Farm. Hesitantly, I pulled into the driveway and parked. I saw a few unfamiliar faces and asked if they knew where I could find Christina. I had met Christina the previous Thursday at the ungodly hour of 7:30am in Pawtucket, RI because we were both helping put together produce boxes for local restaurants through Farm Fresh RI's Market Mobile program. Anyway, none of these women were Christina, so I was confused why they were on her farm. Turns out, it’s not just Blue Skys Flower Farm but seven farms sharing fifty acres owned by the Southside Community Land Trust. During my visit to Blue Skys Flower Farm, I began to learn about the positive benefits of working on a non-profit controlled farm, how a farm like this works, and how difficult it is to start a farm without the aid of an organization like SCLT.
Christina started farming as an adult through a series connections surrounding Southside Community Land Trust. The land originally belonged to a farmer named Arthur Ringrose. In his will, he donated it to the RI Department of Environment Management. Eventually, the land was leased by SCLT. SCLT allows farmers to rent a few acres of land for a low price. Blue Skys Flower Farm is part of Urban Edge Farm. Seven farmers and two farm stewards share all of the facilities for cost effectiveness. This program allows new farmers to enter the field without facing the financial challenges of building a farm from scratch. Although all of the farmers operate separate farms, they happily work together and support each other. Before farming, Christina was already the Director of Operations for SCLT, so knew about the Urban Edge Farm, and eventually decided to participate in it. However, this was not the first time Christina has dabbled in farming. At one point, she studied in France. During her time there, she spent a summer on a farm. She fell in love with the taste of freshly picked produce. So, it made sense for her to pursue fresh food with her own farm when the opportunity arose.
Christina believes that without SCLT and DEM, she would not have been able to start the farm. When asked if she felt like she had the government’s support, she said that she and the other farmers are just starting to feel it. Recently, she and a few other farmers at Urban Edge each received a USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food grant to build their own greenhouses. She said that the government is beginning to realize how healthy and productive smaller farmers can be, so only recently are farmers participating in this type of farming being rewarded or encouraged by the government. There are some definite pros to working on a non-profit controlled farm. Hopefully, these benefits will continue to increase, thus making small-sized farming more appealing and accessible.
As we continued to talk, it became clear how difficult and expensive it is to start a farm in Rhode Island. Christina told me that for thirty-seven acres land in RI, it would cost about $600,000. For the specific property she was referring to, the estate came with a barn, but it was not ready for crops. In order to prepare the soil, which consists of removing all of the overgrown plants and weeds, aerating the soil, etc, it could cost over a million dollars. That does not include setting up an irrigation system, about $6,000, land taxes, and building everything else necessary to run a farm. Unless a new farmer inherited the land or had a substantial inheritance, it is nearly impossible to start a farm from the ground up.
Christina almost solely operates Blue Skys Flowers Farm. Even though Christina has a separate full-time job, she farms for six hours a day! She says that she is constantly planting, seeding, and weeding. She plants about three hundred sunflower seeds a week, and that’s just one species out of twenty that she grows. Generally speaking, she grows a variety of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. In addition to maintaining two jobs, she also prepares CSA boxes, sells her products at farmers’ markets, and sells flowers to local restaurants. You can support her farm at the following markets: Pawtuxet Village, Providence Downtown, and Providence RIC.