Grow, Eat, Connect
Aquidneck Community Table – ACT – combines civic conversation, local entrepreneurship, institutional partnerships, and digging in the dirt with the principles of an equitable food system for all on Aquidneck Island. After successfully bringing three related groups under one organizational umbrella in 2016, ACT uses that collective energy to strengthen the island’s food system; to support the local economy and expand access to fresh healthy food for all; and to act directly to grow more food, preserve open space, and teach life skills.
ACT operates farmers markets in Newport and Middletown; three community farms, two in Newport and one in Middletown; a food-scrap collection and composting program; an annual Food Summit in partnership with Salve Regina University, and an annual Food Challenge.
A coalition of island organizations that included Aquidneck Growers' Market, Aquidneck Land Trust, and Sustainable Aquidneck began discussions in 2008 towards a food hub and community farm on land at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Portsmouth. Over time, the discussion morphed into the need for wider understanding of food and agricultural issues, woven around the health of our bodies, our community, our land, and their entwined future.
Grants from The Kendall Foundation and The Apple Pickers Foundation allowed us to explore this vision with strategic planning consultant, Gayle Gifford of Cause & Effect. More than 40 interviews with community leaders and stake holders informed our understanding of the current island food system and made clear a need for an agency that could connect, enhance, and educate about growing and strengthening our food system: the Island Commons Food Initiative, which formally joined forces with Aquidneck Growers Market and Sustainable Aquidneck in 2016 to make one new organization, united by not-for-profit status and a new name – Aquidneck Community Table.
In anticipation of the needs of present and future generations, we encourage awareness and participation in the vital relationships between health, environment, agriculture, aquaculture, and a thriving local economy. Through collaboration in a dynamic and strategic regional perspective, we work to grow the local food economy and make healthy food accessible to all. We strive to create a vibrant hub of activity on Aquidneck Island, sharing information, skills, and understanding, building the capacity to meet our common future.