Farm Heritage Trails

The Rhode Island Farm Heritage Trail is an educational and enjoyable journey through the state’s wonderful historic farms that preserve America’s agricultural past.  Rhode Island’s agricultural history dates back to its founding in 1636 when the Wampanoag and Narragansett Indians shared their farming wisdom with the colonists.  Many of these traditions are demonstrated at historic farm locations throughout the state today.  Rhode Island’s historic farms invite visitors to observe historic cultures, view farm livestock and get an up-close experience of early American agriculture.

 

map key Dame Farm
Dame Farm, in the heart of Snake Den, is a working farm run by several generations of the Dame Family. The Dame Family Farm buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and restored to the period in which they were built (circa. 1760s through 1925). The farm is a living museum, open to the public and dedicated to the preservation of the rural way of life, a time when the farmer lived in harmony with the land and its inhabitants. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has developed educational displays, and natural trails have been provided with the aid of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Historical Farm, Inc. 94 Brown Ave., Johnston, 401-949-3657

map key Coggeshall Farm Museum
The living museum portrays a 1790s coastal farm. Coggeshall is a working farm with early breeds of livestock and heirloom garden. Buildings include barn, spring house, blacksmith shop and privy. 200-year-old farmhouse is under restoration. Poppasquash Rd., Bristol, 401-253-9062, www.coggeshallfarm.org

map key Mount Hope Farm
Included on the National Register of Historic Places, the site offers more than 200 acres of historic buildings and pristine farmland including streams, water views, meadows, pastures and ponds. Country walkways and trails lead to Cove Cabin. The grounds are open to the public year-round. Tours of the Governor Bradford House (circa 1745) are available by appointment. Enjoy an overnight stay in one of the farm's well-appointed guestrooms. The property is perfect for receptions, corporate and special events. 250 Metacom Ave., Bristol, 401-254-1745, www.mounthopefarm.org

map key Prescott Farm
The Newport Restoration Foundation has assembled and restored these Colonial farm buildings, featuring an operating windmill (circa 1812), British General Prescott's guard house and a country store. The visitor can stroll the walks or woodland paths, feed the ducks and geese at pond side or enjoy the herb garden's aroma and color. 2009 West Main Rd., Middletown, 401-847-6230, www.newportrestoration.org

map key Watson Farm
This 265-acre site is a working farm in Jamestown with heritage breeds of cattle, sheep, horses, chickens and a large garden. A two-mile walking trail with alternate shorter routes provides breathtaking views of farmland and Narragansett Bay. Self-guided walking brochure describes history of the farm, region, current farm products, the surrounding natural resources and seasonal cycles of the farm. School programs, special events and workshops available as well as farm tours for garden clubs, church groups, historic organizations and more. 455 North Rd., Jamestown, 401-423-0005, www.historicnewengland.org

map key Casey Farm
This 300-acre working farm overlooking Narragansett Bay is a rare example of one of the original plantation farms of the Colonial era. The farmhouse (circa 1750) is surrounded by fields, barns, high stone walls and a family cemetery, and it was a site of Revolutionary activity. In cultivation since the time of the Narragansett Indians, today the farm is managed as a community-supported farm and is Rhode Island Certified Organic. House museum, hiking trails, organic seedlings and produce. 2325 Boston Neck Rd., North Kingstown, 401-295-1030, www.historicnewengland.org

map key Smith’s Castle
Site of circa 1638 trading posts established by Rhode Island founder Roger Williams and trader Richard Smith. The location was the center of 17th-century land disputes between the Narragansett Tribe, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. This location was one of the largest 18th-century Rhode Island slave-holding plantations. Award-winning 20th-century restoration includes period gardens. 55 Richard Smith Dr., North Kingstown, 401-294-3521, www.smithscastle.org

map key South County Museum
Unique museum with seven interactive exhibit buildings where visitors can experience 19th-century life as it was in the towns, on the farms and on the sea. Costumed interpreters and traditional artisans bring the Victorian era alive. Strathmore St.,
Narragansett, 401-783-5400, www.southcountymuseum.org

map key Abrams Animal Farm
Enjoy Block Island’s rambling farm featuring an outdoor zoo complete with exotic animals from around the globe. Unique assortment includes corralled llamas, Sicilian donkeys, fainting goats, a zebu, Indian runner ducks, emus, the immense Scottish Highland steer called Mr. McDuff, camels and kangaroos. 1 Spring St., New Shoreham, 401-466-2421.  www.blockislandguide.com/listing/abrams-animal-farm


Great side trips from the farm trail ...

  • Enjoy tours and wine tastings at Newport Vineyards and Winery, Greenvale Vineyards and Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyards, all located within a 20-minute drive of each other and close to many farming sites in Newport County.
  • Stop by Rhode Island’s newest winery, Langworthy Farm Winery in Westerly, after exploring farms in South County.
  • Try the fine Pinot Noir at Diamond Hill Vineyards, where they grow 10 acres of the classic French grape.

Did you know…

  • Green Animals Topiary Garden, in Portsmouth, is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States.

  • Historian and diplomat George Bancroft, a former owner of Rosecliff Mansion, was an amateur horticulturist and developed the American Beauty Rose.

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You can fine-tune your farming/gardening skills or just relish the exquisite and colorful beauty of a well-kept garden at numerous shows, tours, favors and seminars around the state.  Check out www.VisitRhodeIsland.com or these websites for dates and details: www.blithewold.orgwww.secretgardentours.org; www.slatermill.org

The University of Rhode Island’s Master Gardener Program is a fabulous tool that any farmer or gardener can use. The association offers a gardening hotline and a website chockful of tips for the farming and gardening enthusiast. 800-448-1011 (experts available March–December), www.urimastergardeners.org/

 
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