Sitting on sprawling acreage and set back from the road is a cluster of colorful clapboard cottages, a working farm, and an airy community center. It’s tucked away like a secret oasis, but it’s only a stone’s throw from a baseball diamond and the public library. Welcome to Sandywoods, the quiet but busy arts and agricultural community in Tiverton.
“We’re here for the people,” says Program Coordinator Verna Castro, who has been working there since October after transitioning from being a volunteer. She explains that the space is open not just to local artists and artisans, but to everyone in Tiverton and beyond who is interested in what they offer.
Castro explains that the land belonged to the family of famous folk singer Pete Seeger, whose daughter Mika still lives on the property, and was converted with the vision of a dedicated arts community. Sandywoods is now home to artist studios, art galleries, and spaces for classes like Zumba, robotics, Pilates, and drawing. Their fully equipped kitchen incubator is used by several local start-ups, including Young Family Farm, Rhody Roots, Melville Grille, and newcomer Marshmallow Factory. They also boast a community garden and working farm, in addition to housing: 50 cottages for rent and 24 single-family homes for purchase, each with partially finished basements for studio space and resident priority given to artists and artisans.
In its six years of operation, Sandywoods has made its mark; they have hosted folk musicians from around the state and beyond, held performances of favorites like The Nutcracker by Island Moving Company Ballet, expanded to include wellness classes, built the incubator, filled all of its housing, and seen many weddings, corporate retreats, and celebrations held in their rentable venue.
To describe the essence of Sandywoods, Castro pulls from the website’s statement: “We like to think of Sandywoods as a community within a community – bringing arts and opportunities into the lives of the people of Tiverton and its surrounding areas.” In the future, she hopes they can offer more culinary classes to benefit those using the incubator and draw a greater demographic to their music events with varied acts. If there’s one thing Castro wants Rhode Island to know, she says with a big smile, it’s that “we’re here – come visit us!”