By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
WARWICK – The purchase of 8.5 acres of land next to the former Rocky Point amusement park was finalized Thursday by the Rhode Island Agricultural Land Preservation Commission.
The land, home to the Rocky Point Farm, will be preserved for agricultural use, a news release from the R.I. Department of Environmental Management and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian said.
The Rocky Point Farm was purchased by Mark and Betty Garrison in 1983, originally including 2 acres of Norway spruce for Christmas trees and 2 acres for blueberries. It eventually became a blueberry patch and pawpaw orchard.
“Betty and I are grateful that our little farm, the object of affection and work for so many years, will not go up for sale to the highest bidder for residential development,” said Mark Garrison. The Garrisons developed a “loyal following” of pickers, with as much as 13 tons of berries harvested annually in recent years.
The Garrisons are retiring; the farm’s new owners, Rhonda Shumaker and Joe Gouveia, plan to continue running the blueberry farm.
The funding, $345,000, came from the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program, and the state’s agricultural land preservation program.
More than 86 farms in Rhode Island, or 6,300 acres of land, have been preserved through the Agricultural Land Preservation Program, the news release said.