by Tracey Beck, Volunteer Writer
Foggy Notion Farm is a chemical-free vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower farm run by Adam Graffunder and Nathaniel Wood, and it’s located just west of Providence on four acres in historic Snake Den State Park. The two farmers learned urban farming techniques by transforming vacant lots in Providence into productive land.
Each worked to establish sustainable small-scale farms on unused city property. After a few years of facing obstacles such as limited access to water and legal constraints on some urban lots, the two decided to join forces and look for a larger site on which to establish a farm together.
On a hike in Snake Den State Park, Adam and Nathaniel discovered a field available for lease from the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District which eventually became Foggy Notion Farm. They implemented the same knowledge and skills used in transforming vacant lots to their newly acquired farm land. Adam elaborates, “The urban farming knowledge we utilize mostly comprises building highly fertile and organic soil which optimizes the space each crop of plants takes up in the overall farm, maintains good moisture balance and supports a rich soil life. This leads directly to our practices of minimizing soil disturbance, finding ways of reincorporating crop residues and the use of a permanent bed system.” Foggy Notion is currently focusing on offering garden-worthy nursery plants while selling herbs, flowers, medicinal plants and fruit.
Using ingenuity gained from their early days, the two have turned four acres into thriving farmland producing fun crops like wild ginger as well as culinary herbs and medicinal plants such as chamomile, valerian and black cohosh. They continue to jointly farm a property in Providence where they grow mainly fruit. Not surprising, they persevered and eventually attained reliable water service for that same lot.
Foggy Notion first attended and can still be found seasonally at the Farm Fresh Armory Park Farmers Market and at the wintertime season of the Farm Fresh Providence Farmers Market. They describe Farm Fresh’s Market Mobile local food distribution service as one of their most valuable marketing outlets.
Adam feels it enables them to sell to a more varied customer base, cover a wider geographic area, and save time and effort. He explains, “Their programs have helped us so much with promotion and distribution. We would prefer to spend our time growing great soil and plants as well as selecting and assembling them into carefully curated food, decorations and so on.”
During the pandemic, Adam and Nathaniel dug in—collaborating and improvising to become more efficient and effective. They adapted their packaging and product offering practices on Market Mobile to accommodate single and household customers, and they also developed an automated label generator to deal with the increased number of product labels necessary to operate the program.
As they look to the future, Foggy Notion plans to continue to adapt, incrementally improve and base decisions on their deep respect for the physical environment while being a reliable source of high-quality perennials, transplants, in-season farm products and their newest undertaking— offering select nursery plants. They plan to further streamline time spent on administrative tasks such as paperwork and scheduling so they can devote more time to working their land and planning future endeavors.