agriculture

U.S. Drought Monitor

This summer in the Northeast, if you happen to have had an irrigation system on your farm, your crop fields might have been just fine, or not. "We just couldn't work the land. We were so busy trying to put out irrigation pipe,” said Farmer Mike Wisseman. His motto is “Irrigation is Irritation” because pumps break and hoses kink.

Wisseman, along with his family, runs Warner Farm, located on the Connecticut River in Sunderland, Massachusetts. Wisseman said irrigation from the river can't be his primary source of water. To get water to one field, another has to go without.

The Washington County Fair turns 50 on Wednesday, and the anniversary festivities begin with a birthday cake eating contest. As you might expect, the contest will feature 50 contestants. 

The fair officially got underway earlier in the day with an antique car show and a swine obstacle course, among other events. Founded in 1967, the fair began as a way to celebrate agriculture and reintroduce the county fair tradition to Rhode Island. 

The annual event in Richmond is now the largest agricultural fair in the state, according to organizers.

Rick Payette / Creative Commons License

A farm in Warren is the 100th farm in the state to be permanently protected for farming. This marks a milestone for the state’s farmland protection efforts.

  The state considers Lial Acres in Warren an important farm to protect because of its prime soil and its close proximity to other protected farms. The farm also abuts land protected for drinking water quality by the Bristol County Water Authority.

The Lial family currently operates it as a vegetable farm, though previous family generations ran it as a dairy farm. It has been an active farm for 125 years.

Summer may be gone, but locally grown food still abounds with eight winter farmers’ markets open throughout the state. A year-round local food system continues to grow in the Ocean State, as more and more farmers use greenhouses and other tools to extend the growing seasons.

Farmers’ markets these days sell an array of local offerings, not just produce, said Ken Ayars, the Department of Environmental Management’s agriculture chief.

John Bender / RIPR

When you sit down at Thanksgiving table today, you might not give much thought to where the turkey comes from. But an interest in buying local is helping area farms.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Mark talk with Ken Ayars, chief of the Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Agriculture. They talk about the state of local farming, the changing definition of farming and how farms contribute to the local economy.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

The Department of Environmental Management will host Rhode Island Agriculture Day at the State House today with a number of activities, including the announcement of the 17 grant recipients of the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act. 

Maple Syrup Production up in RI

Mar 4, 2013

Maple Syrup production in RI is in full swing says Pete Susi, Deputy Chief of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Agriculture. 

With some tapping their trees as early as January, producers now face a fickle spring as good maple syrup flow requires below freezing nights and warm days.

Despite weather fluctuations production is already up two to three times from last year says says Gibby Fountain a producer, of Sugar Hill Sugarhouse, a farm in Richmond.

Farmers Markets popular in winter

Dec 28, 2012

The popularity of Farmers Markets in Rhode Island is growing and you can find them during the winter months, in addition to summer months.  Chief of the Division of Agriculture of the Department of Environmental Management, Ken Ayers says the markets move indoors during the cold weather.  
Ayers says Farmers Markets are important to local farms.