On Friday, Aug. 8 at Mount Hope Farm, the message was simple: Get unplugged. Get outdoors. Enjoy nature.
Nearly 30 people gathered at the farm’s rustic Cove Cabin, overlooking picturesque Mt. Hope Bay, where Rhode Island Land Trust Council Director Rupert Friday and Mt. Hope Farm Executive Director Jennifer Bristol kicked off Rhode Island’s Land Trust Days, a series of events through Sept. 28 that showcase Rhode Island’s natural treasures.
“We’re losing farms and open spaces,” Mr. Friday said, in his opening remarks. “These are the places that form the fabric of our communities.”
With 127 acres of preserved open space, Mount Hope Farm has become “a center of the community,” Mr. Friday said, with events, miles of walking trails and a popular farmer’s market that draws hundreds of visitors who want to buy local.
From Cove Cabin, a location that Ms. Bristol called “the most beloved view in Bristol,” the group walked to the site of King Philip’s Chair, a natural rock formation where Metacomet (also known as King Philip), sachem of the Pokanoket tribe, would hold meetings with other members of the tribe.
A handful of seashells could be seen on the “chair,” placed there by other visitors who paid their respects to the fallen chief.
“The Pokanoket tribe still holds ceremonies here,” said Helen Jader, a member of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council. “This is where King Philip would have met and planned their attacks on the colonists. This is a very, very sacred place.”
Ms. Jader explained the significance of Mt. Hope and the former tribal land that surrounds it. Although its height has been reduced for modern military purposes, in the colonial days Mt. Hope in Bristol — as well as Masachusetts’ Mt. Wachusett, and New Hampshire’s Mt. Manadanock — allowed for relatively speedy smoke signal communication among the tribes.
And while Plimouth Plantations in Massachusetts is widely known for its role in the first Thanksgiving, Ms. Jade was quick to give her historical perspective on the Native Americans who took part.
“People think of Plimouth. Forget about it. They came from here,” she said of the feast participants.
The walk and talk was the first of many outdoor events planned for land trusts across Rhode Island.
“We expect thousands of Rhode Islanders will come out and discover these amazing, yet often hidden, natural gems that are so close by,” Mr. Friday said. “These outdoor places provide environmental benefits to water, air and wildlife, and the opportunities they make available for recreation and fresh food help individuals and families to feel happier and healthier.”
Land Trust Days will feature more than 50 guided walks, family festivals, farm tours, scavenger hunts, kayak trips, campfire storytelling, barbeques, geocaching and other activities planned to showcase the best of the outdoor places that make Rhode Island a special place to live.
At Mount Hope Farm, whose grounds are open and free for the public to enjoy, Ms. Bristol simply wants more people to discover the beauty of this Bristol gem.
“We want to see your boots on the ground at Mount Hope Farm,” she said.
Find more information about the Land Trust and events planned for Land Trust Days here. Find more information on Mount Hope Farm here.