The house sits at the highest point on the property, and its fields gently descend all the way to the Nonquit pond, a protected water source owned by the city of Newport.
Zoom outwards and you’re sandwiched between the freshwater Nonquit pond on the east and the salt water Saknonnet river bay on your west, in arguably the most stunning niche of Tiverton. You can watch the sun rise over the Nonquit pond from anywhere on the property and later in the evening walk to the bay to watch it set.
Tiverton is a tourist destination, except not a lot of people know about it – it’s Cape Cod without the traffic or the long commute; its Martha’s Vineyard without the isolation; and its Newport RI without the nightlife and noise. The town has four traffic lights and takes 10 minutes to drive through. Four beaches are within a 15 minute drive, and one of them is within walking distance. The property could not be positioned in a better place for someone who enjoys nature and the outdoors. A three minute drive north will bring you to an ecologically unique saltwater marsh that serves as a vital haven for biodiversity and wildlife. RI’s Dept of Environmental Management protects the area and there is a parking lot with coastal access. Drive 2 minutes north from the marsh and you reach an Audubon Society wildlife sanctuary with walking trails and more coastal access. From here, a one minute drive east brings you to the Weetamoo Woods and Pardon Gray Preserve, which is 650 acres of preserved woods and grasslands, and features 7 miles of walking trails.
And maybe even more important than anything else, the property is only 35 minutes to Providence, and 65 minutes to Boston. So the farm will continue to be able to nurture its allies and CSA members in both cities.
Colonial farmland around Puncateest Neck dates back to the early 1700s, well before formal colonial farms popped up elsewhere in the surrounding area. Farming predominated as the major occupation of Tiverton residents until the 20th century. Governor William Bradford had been told that the land of the Pokanoket had “the richest soil, and much open ground fit for English grain”. In Our Beloved Kin, author Lisa Brooks uncovers that the Pokanoket tribe “maintained several planting fields, including one at Nonaquaket, beside crystalline coastal waters.” A white British capitalist with a cattle and beef business managed to claim neighboring Portsmouth/ Middletown/ Newport as his island. But he, as well as another group of men from Plymouth, had their eyes on Puncateest Neck (aka Pocasset Neck). The English men in Portsmouth and Plymouth, writes Brooks, “gazed longingly across the narrows at her (Weetamoo’s) meadows and fields. They desired her planting grounds, cultivated and fallow, her marshlands, salt and fresh, with the passion of the righteous, believing that the land’s destiny was to be converted with the plow.” Weetamoo was the last Sachem of the Pocasset tribe and led the resistance movement when indigenous tribes across New England joined arms in solidarity to fight the colonists during King Phillip’s War. She led an army of 300 and navigated the legal system of the Plymouth court house to put her name on multiple property deeds; this being done at a time when even white women were not allowed to own property.
The first farms in the region grew Indian corn, barley, rye, beans, potatoes, apples, blueberries, and blackberries. After the cataclysmic population decline from plagues and King Phillip’s War, the remaining indigenous tribes were also enslaved at local farms or exported as slaves to the Caribbean. Colonial farms were able to produce pork, butter, cheese, wool, and horses for export. Farmland and the farming industry began shrinking in the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s, as New England transitioned to an industrial textile economy centered in cities, and as the country looked westward and southward for its main agricultural production.
Soils in Tiverton formed largely from granitic materials, influenced by glacial till and less by the underlying rock. These soils had less rocks relative to most of RI, and because crops grew well, farmers cleared and cultivated much of the land. No other region in RI has been as proportionally cleared of rocks. The soils offer great drainage, are great for root crops like carrots, and also have good water holding capacity. And the soils are slightly acidic. According to the US Geological Survey, the soil at 592 Neck Road is a Newport Silt Loam. It is considered prime farmland, offers good drainage, and has shallow water table of only 23 to 24 inches depth. Appearance wise, the soil looks dark and silty, but yes there are quite a lot of rocks. Although sandwiched between a pond and bay, the property is not within flood zone, as we are 50 feet above sea level.
Read more about the unique favorable climate of the south coast and our unique micro-climate here at the farm.