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Learning pavilion to strengthen Portsmouth Middle School farm

Ground will be broken this spring on pavilion at Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm

Posted 1/26/21

PORTSMOUTH — This spring, the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD) aims to break ground on a new outdoor learning pavilion at Portsmouth Middle School’s five-acre, …

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Learning pavilion to strengthen Portsmouth Middle School farm

Ground will be broken this spring on pavilion at Portsmouth AgInnovation Farm

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — This spring, the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD) aims to break ground on a new outdoor learning pavilion at Portsmouth Middle School’s five-acre, student volunteer-run AgInnovation Farm.

The farm, which teaches kids about agriculture with hands-on problem-solving experiences, is located off Jepson Lane, just south of the school.

ERICS recently received a $5,000 grant from National Grid Rhode Island that will help create the pavilion, where children will discover farming techniques and history unique to Aquidneck Island, while also fostering their love of the outdoors. Employee volunteers from National Grid will also help with the installation this spring. 

Once the project is complete, the middle school will hold STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education classes, as well as after-school programs at the farm.

“National Grid is delighted to partner with the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District in this novel project. Not only will it help teach students the importance of the state’s clean energy future on Aquidneck Island, but it reflects our commitment to educating more students about the STEAM fields,” said Terry Sobolewski, president of National Grid Rhode Island. 

“Collaborating with key stakeholders, leaders and educators will give children a better understanding of the clean energy network that all our customers and communities deserve,” he said.

The school, volunteers, and many others have donated time, money, and resources to create this farm where children can learn about sustainable agriculture. Though in-person meetings are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization plans to welcome children back on the farm when it is safe to do so. 

In the meantime, ERICD continues to lay the groundwork for future programs. This includes constructing the pavilion, partially funded by National Grid, which will provide a safe outdoor space for future gatherings.

“This is a project that will positively affect the entire Portsmouth community,” said Sara Churgin, ERICD district manager. “Students will be introduced to farming, an extremely important business, especially now in light of COVID-19. Food security is being threatened through this crisis, and a portion of what will be grown on the farm will be donated to Lucy’s Hearth in Middletown. We are so thankful to National Grid Rhode Island for donating time and resources to build a smart, sustainable future for our island.”

For more information, contact Ms. Churgin at schurgin.ericd@gmail.com or 401/934-0842.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.