City of Somerville, MA
Urban Agriculture Initiative Blog

Somerville City Hall garden is growing like crazy!

I’m talking serious amounts of cherry tomatoes and peppers!  Here is Max McCarthy, Urban Renewal Specialist,  tending to the container gardens on his lunch hour. There are 6 City Hall gardeners who water and two Urban Ag Ambassadors who tend it. Another special thing?  90 year old Guy Amara gave us those tomato plants. We also have eggplants, herbs and flowers!

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Read Landscape Architecture Magazine article about Somerville leading the way on urban ag!

(doing the happy dance)

Here is a link to the July, 2014 issue of LAM. See page 44.

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School’s out, but we are already thinking about next year’s menu!

Did you know that Somerville is one of only two communities in Massachusetts to have won a national Farm to School grant? Yep, that’s right. You can read more about it here. The one year grant allows SPS to work toward a long-term, district-wide strategy that supports local food sourcing with the goal of helping SPS students eat healthy meals ALL DAY LONG – before, during and after school-time.

For the Farm to School Project to be a continued success it depends on connections among three areas: cafeteria, classroom, and community. The SPS Food and Nutrition Services Department is working very hard to source local, fresh ingredients whenever possible. Classroom teachers are creating linkages between food in the cafeteria, school gardens, and the curriculum. The third piece is community, which include parents and community organizations that serve the SPS families.

Learn more about the Somerville Farm to School Program on their blog!

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It’s Somerville Mobile Market time! 

There are three locations that host the Somerville Mobile Farmers Market each week during its 2014 season, which runs from June 19 to November 1. On Saturdays, the market is open from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. at the Mystic Housing Development (530 Mystic Ave.). On Thursdays, the market stops at the Council on Aging (167 Holland St.) from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. and then moves to North Street Housing from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.  Read more about the market in this awesome Somerville Beat article and start eating fresh, healthy, affordable produce ASAP!

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Somerville City Hall demo garden looks awesome! 

This year, the City Hall garden has two urban ag ambassadors tending to it and it looks AMAZING with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans and so many herbs. Who says you cannot grow food in 32 sf? Oh yes, we are…

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Urban Agriculture in Somerville: INSIDE and OUT!

When we talk about building a local food network in Somerville, Massachusetts, we mean it.  On June 9th, 2014 we were honored to have the MA Commissioner of Agriculture, Greg Watson, joining Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone to open two new urban ag sites in the city. Both locations represent unique partnerships between City departments and community partners and they were made possible by an urban ag grant from the state of MA. 1- The Somerville Innovation Farm, focuses on the teaching of STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)  through hydroponics as a partnership between the STEM Garden Institute and Somerville Public Schools and, 2- the expansion of the South Street Farm, a somewhat yucky vacant lot that is now a large productive farm tended to by Groundwork Somerville's Green Team, a youth employment program. The two sites will produce food for the Shape Up Somerville Mobile Market.   Read more about the whole project here.  These projects and others are all all part of the Mayor’s Urban Agriculture Initiative. Seriously when a city is committed to growing its local food network and has fantastic community partners, things get REAL!

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South Street Farm ribbon cutting is tomorrow, June 9 at 3 pm. See you there!

More info here:
http://www.somervillema.gov/news/food-production-distrubution-triangle-set-somerville

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Come learn about herbs at Herbstalk in Somerville! This weekend!
How cool is this?  HerbsTalk is a weekend of classes and networking about plants and herbs and how they are or can be used.  See the 2014 HERBSTALK website here.  Sooo cool.

Come learn about herbs at Herbstalk in Somerville! This weekend!

How cool is this?  HerbsTalk is a weekend of classes and networking about plants and herbs and how they are or can be used.  See the 2014 HERBSTALK website here.  Sooo cool.

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Tactical urbanism + East Somerville = URBAN AG

This week Somerville has been on fire with urban planning. 5 Days of Tactical Urbanism has spread to East Somerville and Union Square. See the schedule of events on the Somerville by Design blog and get out there!

In East Somerville, the City has partnered with East Somerville Main Streets and their THIS IS EAST events series to hold some tactical urbanism community builds. Well, lo and behold, people wanted more opportunities for urban gardening. (duh!) Check out the pallet planters above (remember it’s important to be sure they are chemical-free).

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"Live EVERY day!" -Guy Amara, 90 year old Somerville gardener

As I was outside working on the Somerville City Hall garden during lunch break and lamenting the fact that we don’t yet have enough plants, Guy Amara rolled up in his car.  He told me he had many tomato plants and to come get some after work.  I did. 

Guy, yes he is the one and only “Tomato Guy” featured in the awesome, and short "Tomato men of Somerville video, is one of the people who grows seedlings for the Somerville school gardening programs every year.  Thanks, Guy for your generosity and spirit!

That’s the thing about urban agriculture; food is only one of the products. Gardening also grows community, good will and, in Guy’s case, excellent advice from a 90 year old who has “been around the block a few times.”

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