Thundermist Grows cultivates community in the garden
URI MASTER GARDENER Janice Marielle, left, and Eliza Sutton of Thundermist Health Center in the Thundermist community garden.
COURTESY MIKE SALERNO PHOTOGRAPHY
Janice Marielle, a University of Rhode Island master gardener, is serving as a volunteer consultant for Thundermist Grows this growing season.
Thundermist Grows is a collection of 26 community garden beds for low-income clients and local residents to grow crops to feed their families. It is located behind the Thundermist Health Center in South Kingstown.
Gardeners at the site agree to donate 10 percent of their crops, which are left in the center’s waiting room for anyone to bring home.
According Marielle, a retired nurse anesthetist from North Kingstown who was trained by URI to work with communities and local agencies, many low-income residents suffer from nutrition-related illnesses, such as obesity or diabetes. Thundermist Grows provides individuals with more access to organic fruit and vegetables, which can often be cost prohibitive otherwise.
The project has engaged numerous community partners, such as the URI Master Gardener Program, United Natural Foods Inc., Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, a Boy Scout troop, as well as several local schools and churches. South Side Community Land Trust also developed an educational gardening program.
Since the project began three years ago, more than 500 people have particpated. •