Recently I stood in line at the Ace Hardware by Shaw’s and people in front of me talked about how America was “going to hell in a handbasket.”
One person said it was because Congress is full of attorneys and, “Attorneys have never worked a day in their life.” To which another responded, “That’s what I’ve been saying, if you want to run a country, you need a businessman in charge.”
I didn’t agree with their assessment, but I felt their pain. Sometimes it feels like we’ll combust, spontaneously yet predictably, and sometimes it feels like most of us don’t care. But all it takes is a willingness to unplug, look up, and listen, to remember: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. There may be a fiery hand basket, but there’s also a verdant garden.
Located on the Mowry Commons in Smithfield, Revive the Roots is a non-profit that creates ecologically regenerative and dynamic social spaces through the education and practice of permaculture. More simply: it’s where people come together to learn from one another, where they grow food and share resources, where they act with intention by building co-supportive systems.
Revive the Roots’ community builder Hannah Martin says, “This is a place where if you have an idea, if there’s an activity you want to see take place, whether that be to grow dye plants or learn mycology, then you can do that here. We want to be a resource for information, we want to be a community of collective learners.”
Since 2013, Revive the Roots has worked to rehabilitate the Mary Mowry House, a piece of property central to the organization. Mowry was a schoolteacher and lover of the outdoors who left her home and 5-acre property to the Smithfield Land Trust upon her death in 2008. The rehabilitation of her home included exterior and interior painting, plaster repair, refinishing period windows and rebuilding its 1850s-era porch.
Today, the Mowry House serves as Revive the Roots’ headquarters complete with offices, workshops, and living space for curators who steward the 23-acre Mowry Commons. Just recently, Revive the Roots purchased the Mowry House from the Smithfield Land Trust; Rootstock ‘22 is a celebration of this achievement and more.
In 2022, Revive the Roots grew 415 lbs of produce to support hunger relief through their work with Hope’s Harvest; they began a 15-week CSA to provide food for RI families and individuals; they hired a production manager (their first paid position); and, they welcomed learners of all ages to Mowry Commons through art classes, tours and workshops.
Rootstock ‘22 is a celebration of the purchase of the Mowry House, the aforementioned achievements, and an homage to the people who made Revive the Roots possible and continue to help it thrive.
“Rootstock is an event we’ll put on annually, but it’s definitely more of a celebration this year,” says Revive the Roots board member Jennifer LaPreste. “We’re celebrating these achievements and inviting the community to share in the excitement.”
Rootstock ‘22 boasts an afternoon of music, art and activities. The lineup includes live musical performances by Rafay Rashid, Swamp Birds, Holiday Music, and Hann Cassady; painting and art workshops by The Artist Exchange, and art educator Casey Miller; plus, there will be tours of the Commons and educational talks, including one on beekeeping and honey harvesting from Revive the Roots beekeeper Alex Harmatz.
“We invite people to come and spend a day at the farm,” says LaPreste. “Last year, some people came for the music, others came for the vendors, some just came to wander the grounds. It’s a great day for families, for all ages, really. It’s a great day to see what goes on here.”
Rootstock is a free event with a $10 – 30 suggested donation to help sustain Revive the Roots and its practices of ecological healing, enriching community and securing sustenance.
“The most important aspect of community,” says Martin. “Is the ability to share resources and at its most joyous, it’s people you just see and they put a smile on your face, that’s community… when everyone has the potential to operate in a sphere of supporters.
“Working the land is a challenge. Being out in 90-degree days farming is hard, so when we get to get together and enjoy music and art and food that’s what supports the philosophy of permaculture… celebrating the work that’s gone into the season and regenerating the connectivity that feeds the soul of a community.”
Rootstock ‘22 takes place Sat, Sep 10, Noon – 8pm. For tickets and more information visit revivetheroots.org.
Photo courtesy of Revive the Roots