2011-09-29 / News

Land trust to hold Hey Day on Saturday at Godena Farm


Jim Turenne, left, who works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Mark Stolt, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, create soil test pits at Godena Farm. Jim Turenne, left, who works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Mark Stolt, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, create soil test pits at Godena Farm. BY KEN SHANE

This Saturday, Oct. 1, the Conanicut Island Land Trust will host Hey Day at the Godena Farm on North Main Road. The event – a 20-year-old celebration of open spaces and fresh air that takes place every other year – will be held from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For the first time, Hey Day will feature educational demonstrations in addition to the usual schedule of activities. At 12:30 p.m., Nick Di- Giando of Atlantic Lawn & Garden will discuss landscaping with native grasses, shrubs and trees.

Following DiGiando’s presentation, Louis Godena will discuss John Deere and the American farmer. Godena’s collection of antique tractors and equipment will be on display.

The day’s final demonstration will take place at 1:30 p.m. Jim Turenne will speak about the soils at Godena Farm. Turenne, an islander who is a certified professional soil scientist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, will use various test pits to show the soil features.

Educational demonstrations are far from the only activities of the day. There is something on tap for everyone, including wagon rides through the fields, games for kids, a silent auction featuring art, and live music. Among the musical performers will be a group of student fiddlers, along with the Jamestown Community Band. There will also be freshly prepared food available on site.

Quentin Anthony, the president of the Conanicut Island Land Trust, said Hey Day was an event conceived to honor open spaces. It has been held on various farms and open lands over the years to showcase the properties. Past locations have included Dutra Farm and Watson Farm. The last time Hey Day was held, in 2009, it also took place at Godena Farm.

“Historically, Hey Day has made food available to the public, and provided places to sit to enjoy the sun and air,” Anthony said. “It’s very much a family-oriented event. We’ve added some demonstrations because we think that people will enjoy seeing eight or nine John Deere tractors from over the years, and how they operate.”

“We have a local landscaper demonstrating what native species are available for landscaping purposes, and the role they can play in habitat creation,” Anthony added. “We also have a soil scientist who will be showing test pits that we’ve dug and explaining the geological history that’s shown in the test pit.”

The Conanicut Island Land Trust was formed in 1984. It is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization charged with preserving the natural resources and open spaces of Jamestown. The land trust presently has legal responsibility for more than 430 acres of land in Jamestown.

“The land trust has been committed to preserving open spaces through the years,” Anthony said. “We have many properties to which we have been granted easements that give us the right to stop any construction or development of the land. Other parcels we have acquired outright.”

Godena Farm is a 26-acre farm that was purchased by the trust after years of negotiation. The farm spans North Main Road, and includes a farmhouse and barn.

“We purchased Godena Farm three years ago,” Anthony said. “We’re working now to make it a friendly place for the public. We have cleared tens of miles of rusted barbed wire that was in the fields, making it an inhospitable place for the public. We planted an apple orchard. We’ve got a grape arbor going. We put thousands of dollars into the barn. We’ve been working slowly to improve Godena Farm and make it a more hospitable place to the public.”

The land trust is wholly funded by donations, which often comes in the form of land, conservation easements, or development rights donated by individuals who want to see their land preserved. The trust can advise property owners on all aspects of land preservation, and it also educates the public on issues of conservation of preservation.

There are some major issues facing the land trust these days. Anthony said that the amount of available land to protect is diminishing all the time and the ability to afford the protection of the land with escalating prices is diminished.

“As prices go up,” he said, “it’s harder for us to protect land. For the most part, we are grateful that so much land in Jamestown is permanently protected.

As this year’s Hey Day approaches, Anthony has a message that he wants to get out about the event. “It’s a day that we set aside for families to get outside and have some fun, eat some good food, go on a wagon ride with horses, play some games, and just generally enjoy the outdoors,” he said.

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