Ocean Hour Farm sits at 152 Harrison Avenue in Newport, right across from the entrance to Fort Adams. The organization is in its infancy, having started operations two years ago. Since then, it has been set up to be a center for education on regenerative agriculture, featuring trials and demonstrations to further research. Education so far has been focused on youth in public schools, primarily introducing new generations to systems thinking, and now is venturing into adult education.
The staff is concerned with building soil health on the farm, as well as watershed health, collecting baseline data and trying out regenerative agriculture techniques and materials. For example, they are interested in replacing plastics. They also manage livestock, the farm being home to 32 sheep, a guardian llama and about 100 chickens. Altogether, the property covers 43 acres of land.
But the site on which Ocean Hour sits has an interesting history. Its antiquated assembly of stone houses were constructed from 1914 to 1917, modeled after a high alpine Swiss Village, whose building blocks were taken from the dynamite blasts of the surrounding hills. Before even that, the land was used as a summer convening ground between the Wampanoag and Narragansett Native American Tribes.
More recently, the farm was owned by Dorrance Hill Hamilton and is where the SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project cryogenically preserved germ plasm of rare heritage breeds of animals to ensure a future for these irreplaceable genetics. The collection is now housed as part of the Smithsonian Museum in Virginia. Upon the transitioning of the farm to Ocean Hour, some of SVF staff stayed on and are still managing the property.
Now, returning to August 26th, RINLA staff was present alongside 18 business owners and Apprentices for an education in permaculture led by Ocean Hour Farm staff. Beth Alaimo, Education Program Manager, and Sara Wuerstle, Farm Director, facilitated a 4-hour workshop on the fundamentals of permaculture. What is permaculture you might ask? The simple answer is: “A design methodology for making good decisions about land use that is usable anywhere.” (Thank you, Sara!)
And thank you both for the delicious squash soup and potato and cucumber salad, made fresh from ingredients grown on the farm! We will be back!
Written by Mason Billings
Photographs by Mason Billings and Jordan Miller