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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bonfire on Amos Green Farm

This is the third year in a row that Carla and Russ Ricci, along with the Charlestown Land Trust, hosted a spring bonfire on the 1750 homestead of Amos Green on Carolina Back Road near the Carter Preserve.

One of a very few pieces of property in Charlestown that has been maintained continuously as cleared land with stone fences, the farm is truly a treasure for our town. It’s a testimony to the work of the Charlestown Land Trust and the generosity of land owners dedicated to conservation.

While known as the Amos Green Farm, it’s a little-known fact that the town records show two spellings for his name: Amos Greene and Amous Green. Also his wife is listed as Amme or Amey Knowles.

Carla reminded your author that we can see decaying stone fences among the trees throughout town. Those fences represented the boundaries of cleared farmland 100 years ago when Rhode Island was 90% cleared for farming. Since then most of them have returned to forest or have been lost to development.

Unlike the flatland farms, the soil here was poor and rocky. By around 1900 the soil was wearing out and production was falling to the subsistence level. The family likely had a few cows and other livestock, a small potato patch, and a garden to provide most of their food from the land.

When the Ricci’s bought the farm 40 years ago, a generation of farmers was giving up on this hilly, rocky land and many such farms were for sale. Russ and Carla dedicated themselves to maintaining the land and the stone fences. 

While wanting to provide for themselves and their children, Russ and Carla saw the opportunity to put much of the land in trust to be maintained as a historical site for future generations. The process of working with the town to meet the needs of the Land Trust and themselves turned out to be a very time consuming process. Your writer will report on that in a future article.

The approximately 50 attendees at this year’s bonfire had a wonderful time on the beautiful spring day last Sunday. Friends met and new friendships were made as everyone had pleasant conversation around the fire. Junior Members of the Charlestown Historical Society made cookies and brownies to tempt the people into having a snack. One couple brought their dog; Roxie had a great time and enjoyed the attention. Carla asked me to tell you, for next year, that well-behaved dogs are more than welcome. It’s a great opportunity to let them off the leash in a safe environment.

Be sure to look for the announcements of the 2012 bonfire next spring!

Author: Tom Ferrio

(click on photos to enlarge)