“What the Cluck?” is the title of a new article by Providence Monthly, in which they discuss the controversy between a new urban farming store in Providence and the surrounding local residents and businesses in the neighborhood.
To begin, let’s first talk about Drake Patten, the former executive director of the Steel Yard, and her intentions for starting this business, which is currently located at an abandoned gas station on Broadway, between Federal Hill and the Armory District. In a recent interview, Patten shared her plans to nurture the emerging urban farming and gardening movement in the West End of Providence.
And if you’ve ever been to that part of town, you’d know that community gardening is almost a way of life. Providence folk love to brag about their farmer’s markets and locally grown fresh produce. Business initiatives like the Fertile Underground on 1577 Westminster Street and Urban Greens Food Co-op are just two examples of community-oriented investments that we pride ourselves in. Patten simply wants to provide the tools to do so.
Patton began her long and tumultuous process by first obtaining zoning permits, which were then retracted due to local complaints and a minor technicality, and now has been forced to start all over again. Although CLUCK! has been receiving much support from basically everyone, such as businesses, activists and local neighbors, it’s still baffling to everyone what the problem is in the first place.
Below is a snippet from the interview:
Providence Monthly: How did we wind up with all this fuss over a farm supply store? Why are you so controversial?
Drake Patton: I wish I knew. Some of the reasons that have been expressed to me firsthand or otherwise seem just too strange or nonsensical to entertain. In the end, I actually don’t know if it is my business specifically or just any business on that site. I am not the first one to be opposed there – I am just the first one who didn’t leave. Perhaps it is as simple as everyone wants that site and its continued emptiness had interested parties imagining all kinds of opportunity for themselves. I’ve also been alerted that there is financial support coming in to the opposition’s case that is linked to my neighborhood work opposing an out-of-scale development planned for Western Cranston. I find that kind of alarming, and I really hope it is not true, but people do strange things in the name of profit. In the end, I really don’t know what the reason is.
Why would anyone prefer an abandoned gas station to well-intentioned local farming store that supports its community? If there’s anything to learn from this, it’s that now is not the time to oppose small business ventures. Our state doesn’t need any more abandoned infrastructure, or to stifle community-oriented initiatives.
CLUCK! will be appealing to the zoning board on May 13th. If you wish to support Patton, email Peter Carnevale at Pcarnevale@providenceri.com.