By Paul Lonardo
Smithfield residents are fortunate in many ways, from the excellent schools, to its parks and recreation facilities, the thriving business community, and all the people that live and work in the town. One of the blessings that is sometimes overlooked is Blackbird Farm.
It has not become an abandoned, overgrown relic of the past or been paved over into a parking lot to make room for condominiums, it is an active working farm, as it has been since 1978 when the Bouthillette family began Blackbird Farm.
Ann Marie Bouthillette of Blackbird Farm, wants everyone to understand the wide-ranging benefits that food locally grown and consumed has not only on the consumer and the grower, but all of us.
There are myriad dietary and health benefits to locally grown food, which are pesticide-and preservative-free. It delivers a high-nutrient content along with freshness, which makes everything you eat taste better. For people with food sensitivities and digestion issues, food grown locally is a great option. Buying local will protect farmland and the natural environment while reducing “food miles,” which is a term used to describe the distance that imported foods must travel – often hundreds and even thousands of miles – before arriving at the supermarket. The more “food miles” the more fossil fuels that are consumed, and the more preservatives are required. There is also a measurable economic impact on the local economy, as money stays in the community, supporting individuals and businesses there, even creating jobs.
“Local agriculture is so important,” Bouthillette says. “We have to support our farmers. They won’t be around much longer if we don’t support them.”
She takes every opportunity to educate people, especially young people, because most consumers don’t know exactly what they are getting when they buy food from the grocery store.
“Our farm and our Farm Stand,” Bouthillette says, “is all about knowing where your food comes from and how it was grown and knowing who your farmer is.”
One way to experience all the benefits of eating food that benefits not only your health and taste buds, but positively impacts the environment and community, is to visit Blackbird Farm’s Farmer’s Market, which will be open for business this year on Fridays at 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., and on Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. beginning on June 14 and continuing through until October 20.
“The Farmer’s Market is 100% artisan food and farmer-based,” Bouthillette says, “and here you’ll meet the person who makes the food or the farmer who grows the food and plants. Everything at the Farmer’s Market is Rhode Island-grown and made. Nothing from outside the state.”
“Artisan” is a term used to describe food produced by non-industrialized methods, often handed down through generations but now in danger of being lost. Tastes and processes, such as fermentation, are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than shortened by artificial means for mass-production.
To be clear, the Famer’s Market is not a hamburger and hotdog stand. What you will find is a variety of fruits, vegetables and other products, everything from jams and jellies to Yacht Club Soda and Rhody Fresh milk. And don’t forget the Blackbird’s Moo-Moo ice cream trailer on the premises.
For more information visit Blackbird Farm at 660 Douglas Pike in Smithfield or contact them at 401-578-3959 https://blackbirdfarmri.com/