Shortly after graduating college, I got an invite from an old roommate to visit a piece of land he and some friends had acquired to begin working on an agricultural venture, which he called Revive the Roots. After driving up the dirt road to an old farmhouse, I met a handful of people brimming with excitement about this huge project and kept hearing a word that, until then, seemed entirely foreign to me: permaculture.
Permaculture is an agricultural school of thought based on adopting arrangements from natural ecosystems and applying them to land development and designs. It’s not just about working with the natural environment around you, but making sure that it can flourish for years to come and enrich the ecosystem. This philosophy has been embodied in Revive The Roots since its inception in 2011 and they’ve grown a lot since then, both literally and figuratively.
While establishing themselves as a permaculture epicenter in RI, Revive The Roots has put a huge focus on community engagement going beyond thinking green. They host a myriad of programs from classes on sustainable growing practices to cooking and arts classes. All these take place at the Mowry Commons in Smithfield, a historic house that serves as a headquarters, and is made possible through a lease with the Town of Smithfield and the Smithfield Land Trust.
Unfortunately, this arrangement proved unsustainable. In 2019, the Town of Smithfield decided that they could no longer lease the property to Revive The Roots, and offered to sell it to the organization for $415,000. Securing these funds is pivotal for the organization to continue. The property not only serves as their headquarters, but also provides living quarters for core team members who work on the property. Revive The Roots has been working diligently to raise the money: through grant applications and donations, they are slowly approaching their goal, but are still at risk of not reaching it in time. With 401Gives, an RI statewide day of philanthropy coming up April 1, they are hoping to reach new sponsors and gain the crucial funding needed to continue.
“We see ourselves having a presence here in perpetuity. We’ve invested so much of our work and efforts and grant funds into the property;, it’s been a 10-year investment. This is really just the start,” said Hannah Martin, Revive the Roots board member and community builder.