by Amy McCoy, leader of Slow Food Rhode Island
Undeterred by the seemingly constant rain here in the Northeast, Rich Pederson, the farmer of Southside Community Land Trust’s City Farm in Providence, RI, and I recently set out to plant True Red Cranberry bean seeds.
City Farm sits just blocks from Rhode Island Hospital, tucked between Southside Community Land Trust’s community gardens and the Buddhist Center of New England—a large circus-style tent with colorful signage facing the road. City Farm is no less colorful: a bike rack with an arbor dripping in beets, a planting vessel fashioned by a welder neighbor, a vibrant mural celebrating our agrarian past painted on the face of the greenhouse. And then there are the plants. “We like to plant colorful things here,” Pederson informed me as we walked around the back of the greenhouse, admiring garlic, scarlet runner beans, and pansies bursting from a container of compost. “That’s why the True Red Cranberry bean is such a good fit for us.”
Slow Food Rhode Island donated the True Red Cranberry bean seeds as well as Boothby’s Blonde cucumber seeds—another unusually pigmented variety—to City Farm as part of our outreach for the Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) Alliance New England Grow-out.
In keeping with the “use every bit of space” philosophy of City Farm, Pederson and I planted the True Red Cranberry beans at the base of the sunflowers growing up at the back of the greenhouse. With the remaining seed, we planted the perimeter of the Bean Teepee, a fixture of the Children’s Garden, where the 200 or so participants in City Farm’s seven-week summer program will enjoy a hideaway formed by beanstalks.