News Bites: Castle Hill Inn Christmas Celebrations / Skydog Farm Holiday Greenhouse Oasis / RI Seafood Marketing Collaborative Receives Grant

by David Dadekian

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.


Castle Hill Inn Celebrates Christmas On The Hill With Festive Happenings This Holiday Season

Castle Hill Inn invites guests to experience a tradition like no other with holiday offerings including a pop-up tree & wreath sale benefitting the James L. Maher Center, s’mores on the Inn’s Terrace, and festive holiday meals in The Dining Room at Castle Hill

Castle Hill Inn at Christmas

This winter, Newport’s iconic Castle Hill Inn invites guests to get into the holiday spirit with a host of events and celebrations starting the weekend after Thanksgiving and going all the way through to New Year’s Day.

With its sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay, there is no better location in Newport to celebrate the season. The halls of Castle Hill Inn’s mansion will be decked with festive décor, the wood-burning fireplaces will be roaring, and the Inn will be filled with merriment all December long.

“Christmas at Castle Hill Inn is always a special occasion, and we’re thrilled to help spread holiday cheer throughout Newport with the launch of our first-ever pop-up tree and wreath sale the weekend after Thanksgiving, benefiting our friends at the James L. Maher Center,” said Brian Young, managing director of Castle Hill Inn. “We are also looking forward to bringing back our popular s’mores offering on the Inn’s terrace, along with our traditional holiday meals for Christmas and New Year’s.”

A listing of festive happenings at Castle Hill Inn this holiday season follows below.

Pop-Up Tree & Wreath Sale Benefitting the James L. Maher Center

In the spirit of the season, Castle Hill Inn will sparkle with compassion and holiday cheer on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Castle Hill Inn will host a pop-up tree and wreath sale to benefit The James L. Maher Center from 10am-3pm on Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28. The public is invited to enjoy complimentary hot chocolate and cookies, holiday tunes, and other festive touches while selecting the perfect greenery in one of Newport’s most iconic settings. Wreaths, swags, and Balsam fir trees – including both tabletop and full-size trees – will be available for purchase.

“Our tagline is life to its fullest,” notes executive director Lynne Maher, “and I can’t think of anything that epitomizes that more than the opportunity to make a very special holiday memory. The Maher Center is absolutely delighted to partner with Castle Hill Inn to create Christmas magic for old and new friends – while raising vitally important funds that will brighten the lives of the people we serve, all year long.”

All proceeds from the tree & wreath sale will benefit the James L. Maher Center, which has been serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on Aquidneck Island and in Rhode Island’s East Bay communities since 1953. The Maher Center offers an array of programs – including creative, recreational, and social programming, volunteer and employment opportunities, supportive residential options, and accessible, on-demand transportation services – with the goal of helping people imagine and curate fulfilling lives that reflect their unique interests, affinities, and talents.

“We strongly believe in the mission of the James L. Maher Center, and are proud to be working with this incredible organization,” continued Brian Young. “We invite the Newport community to purchase their Christmas trees and wreaths with us this year, and enjoy the festive ambiance at Castle Hill Inn while supporting such a wonderful cause.”

S’more Holiday Cheer at Castle Hill Inn

Back by popular demand, Castle Hill Inn is sparking up some yuletide merriment on weekends in December with firepits and s’mores on the Inn’s terrace! Guests will stay warm and cozy by a wood-burning fire pit while enjoying stunning views of the Newport Pell Bridge and Narragansett Bay in the background. This experience includes all the fixins’ for traditional s’mores, complimentary hot chocolate or cider, and three comfy fleece blankets to take home. “Spikes” for the hot chocolate and cider are also available for those looking for a bit of extra warmth.

The cost to book a firepit is $200, and each reservation can serve up to six guests. All reservations must be made online and will become available one week in advance. Reservations will be offered at 4:30pm and 7:30pm on December 9-12th, December 16-19th, and December 26-30th.

Enjoy a Festive Christmas or Christmas Eve Meal in The Dining Room at Castle Hill

Christmas at Castle Hill Inn is always a merry occasion, and this year is no different! The Inn invites guests and locals alike to enjoy The Dining Room’s traditional three-course menu with some holiday favorite twists throughout. The mansion will be adorned in festive décor and Christmas cheer, and guests can relax by the Inn’s wood-burning fireplaces and enjoy live music.

The three-course menu, priced at $98 per person, features holiday classics such as Roasted Chestnut Soup and Christmas Goose En Croûte, along with Baked Stuffed Lobster, Maple Glazed Blackbird Farm Ham, Grilled Beef Tenderloin, and more. Seatings will be offered between 4:30-8:00pm on Christmas Eve and from 12:00-8:00pm on Christmas Day. Reservations for non-hotel guests can be made starting Nov. 26 for Christmas Eve and Nov. 27 for Christmas Day, and can be made via email.

Ring in the New Year with Castle Hill Inn

Ring in the New Year at Castle Hill Inn! The Dining Room at Castle Hill is offering a delectable New Year’s Eve four-course menu by Chef Louis Rossi, featuring family style hors d’oeuvre to share, followed by three delicious courses. Enjoy live music while you dine, and finish off with a complimentary champagne toast and head into ’22 with style! The four course menu is $165 per person, and reservations for the general public can be made via email & phone beginning December 3rd (hotel guests may book in advance). 

Guests and locals alike can also celebrate the start of the New Year at Castle Hill Inn with the Inn’s classic New Year’s Day Brunch. Served from 10:45am-3:00pm on the first day of the year, Castle Hill will be serving an a la carte menu and of course plenty of bloody marys and mimosas!

For more information on holiday happenings at Castle Hill Inn this year, please visit https://www.castlehillinn.com/specials.


Skydog Farm Annual Holiday Greenhouse Oasis Opens Saturday November 6th Free Holiday Homestead Series

Skydog Farm has transformed their 1,800 sq ft botanical greenhouse into a Holiday Oasis that is open to the community Saturdays 12-4pm and by appointment throughout November and December.   

This is the third year that owners, Mark Phillips and Katherine Fotiades, have opened their greenhouse for the winter season. “It is an honor to be able to offer an alternative to the holiday hustle and bustle that we can so easily become overwhelmed by. Being in a warm sunny greenhouse with natural beauty helps to sooth the senses and invites us to step out of the chaos and into the present moment. Our hope is to provide a local shopping experience that is both uplifting and serene.” says Katherine Fotiades.

Skydog Farm continues to inspire their community to reconnect to the Arts of Home & Hearth by adding a Holiday Homestead Series to this year’s Winter Greenhouse Schedule.  Their Fall Series was very well received and the Holiday series will offer cooking and seasonal DIY botanical craft demonstrations. Demos are free and will be held at 1:00pm on Saturdays during their normal operating hours throughout November and December. The Holiday Series will culminate with a Gingerbread House contest and extended hours for a special candlelit evening on Saturday December 18th. The entry fee for the contest will be a donation to a local charity (TBD). Please register for individual demos and/or contest. Space is limited.

Skydog Farm also offers a flexible year round CSA farm share program where you can save up to 25% off market price on their hydroponic leafy greens and herbs. You have a choice of a large or small package, four or twelve weeks and pickup at Skydog Farm or at Farm Fresh RI’s Sims Winter Market in Providence, Saturdays 9-1pm. By supporting a “pick to order” farm model you not only secure your weekly share of fresh produce, you also reduce food and packaging waste and strengthen the local food system.

Demo Schedule:

11/6     Winter Farm Share Enrollment
11/13   Making the Perfect Pie Crust
11/20   Succulent Centerpieces 
11/27   Succulent Fairy Birdhouses
12/4     Creating a Solstice Spiral*
12/11   Gingerbread Construction
12/18   Gingerbread Contest & Candlelight Evening

To learn more about upcoming events, CSA shares and to register for demos, visit www.skydogfarm.com or by follow them on social media Instagram @skydogfarmri

For more information on Farm to School programs. https://www.farmfreshri.org/programs/farm-to-school/ and https://www.rifarmtoschool.org/


Governor McKee, Congressional Delegation Join DEM in Announcing $300,000 Federal Grant Aimed at Strengthening Local RI Seafood Market

Governor Dan McKee, members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation, and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today are announcing the launch of a new, year-long seafood marketing and promotion campaign aimed at increasing the consumption and value of Rhode Island seafood in Rhode Island. The campaign will be undertaken by DEM on behalf of the RI Seafood Marketing Collaborative, a public-private body whose objective is to support local fishermen and seafood farmers and increase awareness and consumption of locally harvested species by the public. It will be supported with a $300,000 Saltonstall-Kennedy grant awarded to DEM by NOAA Fisheries and begin in January 2022.

The campaign focuses on the enormous benefits to be derived by steering more RI seafood to RI markets, for sale by RI seafood retailers and consumption by RI consumers, including residents and visitors/tourists. Rhode Island’s commercial fisheries have long been an economic powerhouse. Annual wild harvest landings total over 80 million pounds, valued at over $100 million (ex-vessel). These landings yield a total economic output valued at over $400 million and support over 4,000 jobs. In addition, shellfish farms in RI waters produce more than 8 million oysters annually, with a farm-gate value of nearly $6 million.

It is striking to note that most seafood landed and grown in RI is exported out of state and most seafood sold and consumed in RI is imported into the state. Exports of RI seafood are important and valuable and will remain so. However, the relatively small amount of RI seafood sold in RI calls attention to the need and opportunity to grow the in-state market and render it more secure.

“This grant is a win for Rhode Island’s blue economy on many levels. It will boost our commercial fishing, benefit Rhode Island consumers, and support food security and sustainability initiatives,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I look forward to helping Rhode Island seafood – which is renowned worldwide – increase its value and realize its full potential locally.”

“Rhode Island offers some of the best fresh-caught and cooked seafood in the world and this federal grant will help promote local, sustainably-caught seafood to a wider audience,” said Senator Jack Reed. 

“Fishermen and shellfish harvesters catch some of the freshest, most delicious seafood in the country right off the coast of Rhode Island,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “These federal funds will be used to help get the word out so that more locally caught fish end up on plates across the state and more jobs are created on Ocean State docks.”

“Rhode Island seafood is the envy of the world, but we can do a better job of supporting our local fishermen and shellfishermen right here at home,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “I’m proud to have helped secure this federal funding to shore up Rhode Island’s Blue Economy, so that Rhode Island residents, visitors, and tourists can fully enjoy all that our booming local seafood industry has to offer.” 

“I’m thrilled that DEM has been awarded a $300,000 Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to support this new initiative that will benefit our local fisherman, shellfisherman, and the RI seafood industry,” said Congressman David N. Cicilline. “This funding will help bring to fruition years of hard work and dedication from DEM and Rhode Islanders who have working to strengthen our local seafood market and economy here at home.”

“This grant provides an amazing opportunity to provide Rhode Island seafood consumers with more information about our products and develop stronger, direct connections to Rhode Island seafood. Through the implementation of this Saltonstall-Kennedy grant, we are poised to do just that,” said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. “DEM is grateful for the leadership of Bob Ballou, who wrote the winning grant proposal and is passionately dedicated to expanding our seafood supply chain to support the local food system.”

The new campaign is aimed at increasing consumer awareness of and demand for RI seafood products in RI, thereby increasing in-state sales, spurring growth of the local seafood economy, and supporting a stronger, more resilient local food system that is less dependent on less reliable out-of-state sources. Shorter supply chains, or food miles, also have smaller carbon footprints, thereby helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The federal grant will be used to fund a comprehensive multimedia advertising campaign, coupled with point-of-sale support, spanning all of 2022. The campaign will promote all opportunities to access RI seafood in RI, including retail markets and restaurants as well as opportunities to buy directly from commercial harvesters. All RI businesses that offer RI seafood, and all RI consumers who prefer RI seafood, stand to benefit. For RI businesses, benefits include opportunities to increase sales and to derive more value from those sales, given the appeal of fresh RI seafood in RI. For RI consumers, benefits include enhanced opportunities to access and enjoy nutritious seafood from local waters. The campaign will afford more opportunities for RI retailers and consumers to tailor their seafood sales and purchases to better support the hard-working Rhode Islanders who harvest and grow RI seafood.

An important corollary component of the grant award is a dedicated study to assess the effectiveness of the marketing and promotion campaign. Dr. Hiro Uchida, Chair of the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, will track changes in sales of RI seafood in RI, and the value of those sales, throughout 2022 via data provided by a diverse cohort of RI retailers and sales venues. The results of the study will be used to determine whether the solid investment in promoting the RI commercial fishing and seafood industry yields solid, measurable results. RI businesses interested in participating in this evaluative process should contact Dr. Uchida at [email protected]

The grant award brings to fruition 10 years of strategic planning and program development undertaken by DEM and the RI Seafood Marketing Collaborative. The collaborative is a 19-member advisory body established in 2011 by the RI General Assembly. Its membership includes representatives from all key sectors of the RI commercial fishing, aquaculture, and seafood industry, joined by representatives from URI, RI Sea Grant, and a host of state agencies, namely DEM, the RI Commerce Corporation, Rhode Island Department of Health, and RI Coastal Resources Management Council. In coordination with key partners, and drawing upon a shoestring budget, the group has overseen the development of a strong framework and strategy for marketing and promoting RI seafood, administered by DEM. Core program components include a trademarked RI Seafood brand, a robust SeafoodRI.com website, a Fish Line phone app, and a well-honed social media presence. These tools-in-the-toolbox will continue to serve as unifying elements, augmented by the new surge of paid multimedia marketing, consumer education, and retailer support made possible thanks to the new grant award.

For more information on the RI Seafood Marketing Program, contact Robert Ballou, Assistant to the Director, DEM, and Chair of the RI Seafood Marketing Collaborative, at [email protected]. For more information on DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem)

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