How Lucayda Farm Is Spreading the Power of Plants and Winding Down the Year with a Celebration of Winter’s Beauty
by Laura Fahey, Guest ContributorLike any good farmer, Journey Basham pivots between seasons. From planting season, to summer salad greens, to the hardy herbs and trusty microgreens you can grow all year, to fall wreaths and holiday festivities, you can find Journey at the farmers market all year-round leading Lucayda Farm through the seasonal shifts of the calendar. But Lucayda Farm, based in western Cranston and now 11 years old, is not just responsive to the ebb and flow of the seasonal needs in this region — it is also deeply focused on the demands and interests of the community.
Journey sees Lucayda Farm first as a nursery that grows and sells small starter plants to community members so they can learn how to grow food on their own, no matter the size space they have at home. It’s her steadfast belief that, whether you rent an apartment with a small fire escape or have a yard with a spacious garden of raised beds, everyone can grow food regardless of your income, where you live, or any other factor.
Journey works closely with each customer — some for over a decade now — to help them learn where the food comes from and what goes into caring for it, and she customizes her recommendations based on their experience level, food traditions, and personal tastes.
“My goal is for everyone to be successful with their first plant, so they don’t lose interest, and so they want to try growing maybe two tomato plants next instead of just one,” Journey says.Her experience at the Farm Fresh RI Wintertime farmers market (now open year-round in Providence) has helped her introduce many in the area to the remarkable quantities you can grow with container gardening in urban environments. It was there that she also learned the power of educating people on the opportunity to put food assistance benefits, like SNAP and Bonus Bucks, toward the purchase of plants that produce food.
“Ultimately, the return on investment for a $5 tomato plant is just so much greater than a carton of picked tomatoes, and I’d love to help more people tap into that,” she says.
But Journey also knows that the power of plants goes beyond the personal economic benefits of homegrown food. She says that the healing power of growing plants is what drives her to share it with more people. Under her leadership, Lucayda Farm has donated plants and helped develop the garden therapy program for children at Bradley Hospital. As a former early childhood educator, Journey recognizes how important it is for kids to have an outlet to support their mental health, and she believes that the therapeutic element of caring for and nurturing plants can provide some of that outlet. She hopes to help expand garden therapy programs in adult correctional facilities and prisons across Rhode Island to help more people experience plants and nature.
Participating in Farm Fresh RI farmers markets has provided space for Journey to react to what the community wants, observe how her farm may play a role in any areas of need, and test all of the concepts for how she can shift from one season to the next.
And now, as we enter the winter holiday season, Lucayda Farm begins its annual year-end tradition of celebrating the nature found all around us in evergreen trees, milkweed pods, and red dogwood trimmings. This brief respite from the major growing season provides an opportunity to honor the beauty of what grows here in Rhode Island in the colder season.
“I love harvesting responsibly off the land that I farm on. The colors and textures of native plants are so inspiring at this time of year. Incorporating such beautiful pieces of the wild into wreaths truly becomes my outlet for art in nature,” says Journey.
If you would like to join Journey in rounding-out the year with a celebration of native greenery, Lucayda Farm will be teaming up with local Christmas tree farms to offer wreath-making workshops on November 28 and December 10, 2021. Register here.
Find Lucayda Farm at the Farm Fresh Providence Farmers Market every Saturday all year, and at other seasonal farmers markets in warmer weather. Come spring, you can visit Lucayda Farm’s plant shack and greenhouse in Cranston to stock up for the 2022 planting season. Prefer to make your orders online? Keep an eye out for the online shop that will relaunch in April for curbside pickup.
All photos courtesy of Journey Basham