Mowry House

The curators of the historic Mary Mowry House in Smithfield, from left, Tyler Desmarais, Bradford Allard, Hannah Martin, and Annie Bayer.

SMITHFIELD – Revive the Roots is moving forward with the purchase of the Mary Mowry Property after the Smithfield Land Trust and Town Council approved a sale price of $415,000 and a sales purchase agreement.

Hannah Martin, of Revive the Roots, said the nonprofit is now focused on fundraising through grants and loans to reach the $415,000 by the price expiration date of June 2022.

The sales price includes the Mary Mowry House, at 10 Old Forge Road, and surrounding five acres of land. In addition to the home, Revive the Roots will enter a 10-year lease agreement with the Land Trust for the adjacent 18-acre Mowry Commons.

Martin said while Revive the Roots wants the Mowry home to remain as its headquarters, it would like to continue to be the stewards of Mowry Commons through continued trail maintenance, community events, community gardening, and more.

“We see ourselves having a presence here in perpetuity. We’ve invested so much of our work and efforts and grant funds into the property, It’s been a 10-year investment. This is really just the start,” Martin said.

She said it’s the organization purchasing the home, not the individual volunteers in the organization doing so, which is beneficial in two ways:

• It ensures that the property is protected;

• And it allows the group to seek non-traditional grants and loans.

To kick off the needed fundraising campaign, Revive the Roots is hosting a virtual tour of the home on Tuesday, Nov. 30, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. with a 15-minute question and answer session at the end with Revive the Roots curators. Registration for the event, as well as a spot for donations, can be found at revivetheroots.org. Call Revive the Roots at 401-305-0539 or email Martin at Hannah@revivetheroots.org for more information.

Martin explained that when Mary Mowry donated Mowry Commons to the Land Trust in the late 1980s, she wanted it to be conserved and enjoyed by the public. Upon her death, she donated the house and surrounding land with the same intentions, Martin said.

“We are very happy with the whole decision. We are really grateful to everyone to get to that price. It really honors the work Revive the Roots put into the project,” said Martin.

The sale will include a conservation easement on the house and surrounding property, which Martin said Revive the Roots feels is most important to the organization.

“The purchase of the home is important to us because of a conservation easement on the house and property to ensure that no matter what direction our organization takes, the house will always be preserved as a historic building, and the lands will never be developed,” she said.

In its 11th year at the Mary Mowry House, Revive the Roots began a curatorship trading what its operators call sweat equity in repairs and renovations in exchange for rent. In the decade working at the Mary Mowry House and Mowry Commons next door, Revive the Roots earned an additional two years in sweat equity for the property, extending its lease until February 2022.

Past that point, Revive the Roots will continue to pay $1,500 in rent to the Land Trust on a month-to-month lease until next June.

Over the past decade, Revive the Roots put in more than 8,000 volunteer hours on the house, while at the same time promoting and educating the public on permaculture, or the practice and principal of creating a permanent connection between humans and nature.

The group has held many community events, donated more than 3,000 pounds of food for hunger relief, and welcomed more than 7,500 visitors to their animal and produce farm, as well as trails and gardens.

Martin said the organization is solely volunteer-based now, though after the sales agreement she said it may look to bring on some employees.

“Our primary goal right now is making sure we have our base of operations secure,” she said.

Revive the Roots plans to continue development of the property’s historical nature and agricultural sites, Martin said, including rebuilding a historic farm on the property to hold nature-based practice workshops for the community, including canning, paper-making, and more.

“It’s pretty big goals,” she said. “There is a myriad of different practices that we would be able to teach members of the community.”

Town Manager Randy Rossi said the town is happy to continue to work with Revive the Roots. He and Town Planner Michael Phillips applauded the Town Council’s approval of the sale price and sales agreement at the Nov. 16 Town Council meeting.

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