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Why the Name?

The Providential Gardener brings together the Growing Community of gardeners and caretakers of urban farms, parks and other public spaces, as well as individuals and families who tend their own gardens around their homes or in pots on the porch, in Providence, Rhode Island. Of course, since Rhode Island is such a small area, a sort of city-state, the Providential Gardener’s interests extend well beyond the city line and include activities of organizations in the Providence metropolitan area as well as the whole state.

When Roger Williams first came to what is now called Providence in 1636, the Narragansett and Wampanoag had been gardening around Narragansett Bay for unnumbered centuries. The first and most important activity undertaken by Roger Williams and the other English settlers who joined him here at the head of Narragansett Bay was to plant gardens so they could survive the coming winter.

Farming in Providence continued until development took over much of the city’s land for businesses and housing in the twentieth century. Maps of the City of Providence dating from around 1900 are dotted with greenhouses, and large tracks of land were still farms less than one hundred years ago. So urban gardening is nothing new, and it is currently experiencing a renaissance in this great “Renaissance City.”

The word providential perfectly fits this online community. When Roger Williams came here he named this place Providence. He wrote: “I, having made covenants of peaceable neighborhood with all the sachems and natives round about us, and having a sense of God’s merciful providence unto me in my distress, called the place Providence; I desired it be for a shelter for persons distressed of conscience.” Synonyms for providential include opportune, advantageous, favorable, auspicious, propitious, heaven-sent, welcome, golden, lucky, happy, fortunate, felicitous, timely, well timed, seasonable, convenient, expedient. In fact, providential is often used in relation to fortuitous natural events, for instance, “a providential rain saved the crops.” Isn’t it also providential, fortunate, and lucky that today so many people in our city and state care about nurturing trees and shrubs, growing flowers and vegetables, volunteering their time and skills, energy and money to make Providence more beautiful and productive?

There are so many ways of enjoying and benefiting from what the earth produces ~ so many things to learn, so many ways to spend time making our neighborhoods and homes more beautiful and growing plants that nourish our bodies and souls. The Providential Gardener is your place to explore so you can keep growing as a lover of our beautiful local gardens, parks, farms, and forests.