The city of Ouzinkie started working on its community farm about three years ago. This summer was the first time the farm was fully operational.
On the old Ouzinkie airstrip sits Spruce Island Farm with its two large hoop houses and 30 Rhode Island Red Hens. Daniel Rich Sr. is an agriculture technician that works there. He’s one of two employees who operate it.
The farm is owned by the City of Ouzinkie. About three years ago it started working on opening the farm. This summer was its first growing produce. Rich can quickly run down the list of vegetables the farm has to offer.
“I got carrots and potatoes, cucumbers, kale, veronica cauliflower, and everything is selling quick.”
Along with produce, the farm has a steady supply of fresh eggs. Rich believes it’s important for Ouzinke to have the farm because without it residents wouldn’t have access to fresh vegetables. The community has to ship in food in from outside sources, which means it’s not always the best, says Rich.
“It’s either frozen or canned. You lose so many nutrients and having a fresh vegetable or fruit to eat is much more beneficial.”
Before this job, Rich says he didn’t have a lot of experience farming, but he’s really taken to it.
“I really enjoy farming. It’s relaxing. You’re not sitting at a desk for eight hours to ten hours a day. You’re on your feet tending the birds tending the plants. All in all providing the fresh vegetables and the fresh eggs to the community is amazing.”
Ouzinke isn’t the only village in the region to start a farm. Rich says other communities have also set up hoop houses. Even though, the summer is practically over that doesn’t mean Spruce Island Farm is done.
“We’re still growing and we plan to grow throughout the winter using oil burners. And So we’ll be recycling all the used oils from all the machinery from the village and vehicles to heat our greenhouses. So potentially we can grow vegetables throughout the year.”
The farm’s goal is to have a source of fresh food year-round for residents. Rich thinks the farm has a lot of potential to expand and in the future, he wants to hold classes to teach local students how to start their own gardens.