The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Champlin Foundation, and the RI Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission (ALPC), announces the acquisition of the development rights to 369 acres in Exeter from Earl Adams. Protection of the Adams property is the latest in Rhode Island’s ongoing efforts to permanently protect the state’s farmland to ensure this important and valuable asset remains available for agriculture. Since 1985, 111 farms spanning 7,888 acres have been protected by the ALPC, working in concert with DEM and many partners.
“Today more than ever, we must continue to preserve our state’s valuable farmland and invest in our green economy,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “Preserving Rhode Island’s strong agricultural heritage is important to our state and our families and will help us forge a stronger, greener, healthier Rhode Island for generations to come. That is why I am urging further investments through a Green Economy and Clean Water bond. I applaud DEM and The Nature Conservancy for helping to make this tremendous acquisition in Exeter possible.”
Located in southern Exeter near the border of Richmond and South Kingstown, the property is the second largest protected farm in the state, after Tuckahoe Turf Farms, Inc. in Richmond. A farmhouse and barn are located on Glen Rock Road, and the property also has frontage on Gardiner Road and Hog House Hill Road. The farm contains more than 200 acres of prime and important farm soil, nearly all of which is currently used for hay production. Its focal point is an iconic and impressive 90-acre hay field that provides sweeping views of the rest of the farm and its surrounding forestland, and beyond. The remaining land includes pasture, woodland, scattered wetlands, and two major tributaries to the Queen’s River, one of the cleanest and coldest rivers in Rhode Island and one of the most pristine rivers in southern New England. A high priority for conservation, the river supports wild brook trout, several rare dragonflies, and an abundance of freshwater mussels.
Mr. Adams had previously conserved 66 acres of his farm, selling a conservation easement to TNC in 2004. Abutting the farm to the east is the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Eppley Wildlife Refuge – 1,225 acres of protected forest, streams, and white cedar wetlands that protect hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. With the protection of Adams Farm, DEM, the Audubon Society, and TNC have now conserved more than 2,500 contiguous acres of fields and forest in this area.
“Through this project and our partnership with The Nature Conservancy, we are able to maintain one of the last large, unprotected tracts of farmland in Rhode Island as agricultural land for future generations,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Adams Farm is a gorgeous property that sits within one of the largest undisturbed areas of the state. It’s such a joy to preserve this iconic working farm for years to come. I’m grateful that the Green Economy Bond funds allow us to work with partners to preserve these precious farmlands.”
“The protection of Adams Farm is a tribute to the Rhode Island voters, who have overwhelmingly supported the state’s open space bonds,” said John Torgan, State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “That such a large parcel was available for development demonstrates that we still have a lot of important conservation work to do. The Nature Conservancy is very grateful to Mr. Adams and to our partners, whose support made it possible to protect this special place.”
The $3.34 million acquisition from Earl Adams protected this large tract from development in perpetuity. The state of Rhode Island provided $1.14 million through farmland bond monies. The funding package included an additional $1.2 million set aside by Congress for land protection in the Queen’s River watershed, and a $1 million provided by The Nature Conservancy with funding from The Champlin Foundation, the 1772 Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation, and individual donors.
DEM continues to work across many fronts to strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to promote the viability of local agriculture. The state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy each year. And local agriculture continues to be an area ripe for growth – with the number of farms in Rhode Island on the rise and a growing young farmer network. Access to land, however, continues to be a challenge for many farmers.