Rhode Island is a diverse state that has experienced severe economic hardship in recent years, as well as historically These maps display the obstacles and opportunities that Rhode Island farmers face in participating in a just and sustainable local food system. Land use and regulatory constraints are the main criteria examined in these maps.
The first map shows a simple breakdown: land that’s developed (with streets, houses, buildings, infrastructure, etc.) versus land that’s more rural (forested, farmed, or simply unpopulated). Developed areas are the primary obstacle to the expansion of farming in Rhode Island; you can’t farm in the middle of a town, airport, or power plant!
Barriers to Expansion
The second map adds more complexity to the story of land access, showing restricted land and existing agriculture in addition to developed land. Conservation land, depicted in olive green, inhibits the expansion of agriculture in rural areas. The northern and central parts of Rhode Island are the least restricted; however, those areas are occupied by woodland. Is the physical expansion of farmland into wooded areas necessarily a good thing? And when it comes to the large amount of conservation land in the state, should conservation and agriculture be viewed as contradictory?