Note: for the latest news on Cluck! please see this story: The Latest on the Battle for Cluck! Your Help Is Still Needed.
Cluck! is a planned urban farm supply business that is trying to establish itself in a lot with a vacant garage at 399 Broadway in Providence. Unfortunately, what seems to be a good retail business, which would bring jobs and small agriculture products to the area, is being strongly opposed by some Broadway property owners who feel the business—and basically any business—is not welcome in their area of Broadway.
Neighbor opposition has kept the lot at the northeast corner of Broadway and Courtland vacant for several years. It was a former gas and service station—the fuel tanks have been removed from the property. Now the lot becomes overgrown with weeds and the building remains empty and slowly decaying. Somehow this is preferable to Cluck!, what is essentially a serious garden shop, opening there.
Eat Drink RI became interested in Cluck! because it seems like a fantastic way to encourage home farming, get people to raise more local produce, and hopefully encourage other allowable urban agriculture. As R.I. Division of Agriculture studies have shown, what’s grown in Rhode Island feeds only approximately 1% of Rhode Islanders. There are “food deserts” all over the greater Providence area and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank‘s 2012 Status Report on Hunger shows the state has the highest level of food insecurity in New England: 15.5 percent of Rhode Island households cannot afford adequate food. We’re not saying Cluck! will save the world, but having this retail resource available in a centrally located storefront could help ease the food problems Rhode Island faces.
Cluck! is in need of a zoning variance for the life of the business only to open. We’re asking that you help support Cluck! with an email and/or phone call, and, if you’re a resident, attend a meeting in support of Cluck! Drake Patten, the creator and driving force behind Cluck! (and outgoing Executive Director of The Steel Yard) has offered these suggestions on how to let the city of Providence know that you support the business and would like to see it open at 399 Broadway. From Patten:
- Call Mayor Angel Taveras’s office at 401-421-2489 and leave the following message: You are excited about the blighted property at 399 Broadway put back into use as as business supporting urban farming. You understand the owner is having difficulty with a small group of neighbors. Please ask the Mayor’s office to assist in supporting this small business getting its doors open.
- Email the City of Providence Planning and Development Zoning office to voice support for the business. The Director of Zoning, Peter Carnevale’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is important so it can be read into the record. If you also wish to call Carnevale’s direct phone is 401-680-5376
- Folks can come to the WBNA Community Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 11, at 7 p.m. Cluck! will present their plans to the CDC for their consideration. The WBNA meeting is at 1560 Westminster St.
Below is some of Patten’s description of Cluck! that she has posted to their Facebook page. For up-to-date information on their progress, please like that page, and please show your support for Cluck! and Patten, a long-time community member looking to open a small business that will help local food and farms.
cluck! is a small business start-up scheduled to open on March 15, 2013. cluck! will serve urban farmers involved in vegetable and fruit growing, chicken raising, bee keeping, and other homesteading activities such as preserving, canning and cheese making. cluck! will serve these new generation agrarians through a combination of products, services, consulting and seasonal community events. cluck!’s retail and service team will be knowledgeable and approachable and shares our customers’ passion for the growth of the self-reliant city.
Our customer base is first and foremost working individuals and families who have embraced (or are in the process of embracing) the growing national trend toward local food production. As people who work, raise families and spend time volunteering in neighborhood activities, they rely on a perfect balance of education and opportunity to undertake the additional responsibilities and joys of small-scale farming. cluck! customers are a diverse group that mirrors Rhode Island’s population.
cluck!’s inviting storefront will offer products related to these customers’ pursuits including: tools, raised bed systems, chickens, chicken feed and coops, bee hives and bee-keeping equipment, soil amendments, plant starts, seeds and a range of seasonal items that coordinate with existing local and in-house educational opportunities. Our demonstration garden is designed to provide inspiration and ideas, allowing customers to meet our chickens and watch our hives. We will also provide much-needed off-site services ranging from garden set-up and maintenance, custom coop building and chicken sitting to the coordination of third-party services.
Our market advantage is found in our careful understanding of our customers’ needs; making the right products and services available on a scale and in a time-frame that meets those needs perfectly. In short, we provide a single, attentive and responsive source for our customers so they, in turn, can spend more time tending their bees, raising their chickens and growing their own vegetables, herbs and fruit.
By combining a bricks and mortar storefront space with off-site services and consulting, cluck! will provide something no other business in the area can-a one-stop shop for all the things that small-scale urban growers need. Rather than traveling between garden supply center, hardware store and feed store, cluck!’s customers will find everything they need in one place.
- Tools and containers
- Feed items (for poultry and other backyard animals)
- Chicken coops, set-up and supplies
- Beekeeping hives, set-up and supplies
- Soil amendments
- Planters, containers and raised bed systems
- Canning , cheese, candle and soap making supplies
- Chicks and pullets (seasonal)
- Nursery stock: grape, fig, small fruit (seasonal)
- Plant starts (vegetable and herb) and limited perennial plants (primarily pollinators)
- Rain barrels, compost bins, worm compost containers
- Gloves, aprons,
- Small garden supplies (row markers, twine, bell jars, etc.)
- As services (including subcontractor-supplied)
- In-situ coop building
- Custom bed installation
- Trellis and arbor construction
- Fence design and construction
- Garden maintenance
- Vacation flock sitting
- Crop harvesting
- On-site and for larger quantities; by outsource & delivery (including through sub-contractors):
- Mulch, Organic compost and manure, Soil
- Coop location and design
- Raised bed/planted location and design
- Space maximization
- Crop and breed selection