ECG and MAPC Launch Everett’s First Citywide Food Plan

On Saturday, June 16th, Everett residents gathered at the new Earthworks community garden to launch the City’s first-ever Food Plan. Everett Community Growers presented the results of a year-long Community Food Assessment, through which food stores were surveyed and residents were interviewed to understand their perspectives on how to improve the City’s food retail environment. The assessment also looked at school food, workforce and business opportunities in the food sector, and urban agriculture.

The event included an exhibit of photos taken as part of the Community Food Assessment by residents who acted as community photojournalists. One photo was also chosen to be blown up for a wheat paste billboard:

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Everett Community Growers also announced funding for youth jobs at the farm from Exelon Generation. Kathleen O’Brien, Coordinator of Everett Community Growers, said, “Exelon Generation’s support will allow us to fully realize our program to train a stellar youth team at the farm, and more deeply focus on offering positive, hands-on experiences through connecting with and learning about food, the environment, and our community.” The youth jobs at the farm were a key program recommendation to be released in Everett’s food plan.

Other program and policy recommendations of the food plan will be released to the public in July, and Everett Community Growers plans to pursue the creation of a Food Policy Council in Everett to lead the implementation of all recommendations included in the Food Plan. Stay tuned for more information!

Thank you to the City of Everett and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council for their funding and support as project partners. Partial funding also came from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and the Everett Cultural Council.

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Second Community Meeting for Earthworks Project

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A group of community gardeners from both the Florence Street Community Garden and the Tremont Street Community Garden gathered on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 to discuss the second iteration of a design for a proposed public art and urban agriculture project. Hosted by MAPC’s Arts & Culture Team and Everett Community Growers, with support from the City of Everett, residents discussed a plan for a garden area featuring a central sculptural seating element with concentric circles of paths and garden mounds radiating out from that point. The design concept represents a ripple on the surface of water, caused by a drop of water. In this vision, community gardeners are all drops of water, creating a ripple effect to encourage more people to get involved in the community.

Picture2MAPC Artist in Residence Carolyn Lewenberg shared a vision of this art project, explaining that the design will not only spark visual interest, but will also provide two main functions: to grow food and build community. She explained that the first step in the project would be to create the visually eye-catching aspects: a central sculpture and neat brick paths would pique people’s interest in what is being built on the bike path. Signage at the sculpture and paths would orient people to the work days if anyone is interested in getting involved. The plan is to build the bench and paths in March, and the garden beds would be created during Saturday work days from March 24 until the end of April. All community members are invited to join the work parties, and we hope this will be a great community building experience.

Picture3.jpgThe garden mounds will be made from burying Christmas trees and branches in compost and topsoil. This method of garden construction is called “Hugelkultur” and is a great way to use tree debris to create a self-fertilizing system that requires little water once established. The community discussed planting these hugelmounds with crops that are harder to grow in small garden plots. The group agreed that each of the three garden mounds would be planted differently: one will have corn, one will be a pumpkin patch, and one will be a mix of annual flowers to attract pollinators and raspberries and blackberries. Spreading herbs may be planted at the base of the garden mounds. Community Gardener Jorge committed to being the primary farmer for the corn, and the point people for the blackberry/raspberry/ flower bed and the pumpkin patch have yet to be identified. Let us know if you are interested! We realize that the success of this project lies in the commitment of community members who will regularly visit, pull weeds, and water the plants.

The revised design also creates a space for gathering, which was emphasized at the first design review conversation in December. Community Gardeners asked for space to have workshops, concerts, garden parties and a place for kids to play while adults work in the garden. The sculptural water drop bench is the center of that gathering space, so people can have a place to sit and relax. Cushions for the bench and more seating would be available in a shed, similar to the ones at the Community Farm and the other Gardens. In the proposed design, the shed provides a structure on which we could grow grapes, and having a grape arbor over the shed will also serve to keep it cool in the summer.

Picture4.jpgThe meeting, held at La Comunidad, INC, drew a diverse and intergenerational group of individuals and families. Materials were translated into Spanish, and residents were not only invited to help build the garden, they were also invited to capture the process through images and reflections. The group recognized that community gardening contributes to physical and mental health and social wellbeing, and that documenting health outcomes of this project may demonstrate success to the City and other communities who we may be interested in supporting more projects like this in the future.

Everett Community Growers, a key partner in the project and the local membership organization working to improve health outcomes and increase civic and community engagement through urban agriculture and other food justice initiatives is also working with The City of Everett and MAPC’s public health team on a Community Food Assessment. As part of the Community Food Assessment, they are capturing portraits and food stories from community members. As part of this project, we plan to incorporate these portraits and stories on tiles that would be integrated into the sculpture.

Key partners in the Earthworks project also include the UMass Boston (UMB) School for the Environment and the Trotter Institute. This project is made possible with a technical assistance grant from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and with in-kind support from the City of Everett and Everett Community Growers.

Everett Community Growers Meet to Envision a Sculptural Garden along Northern Strand Community Trail

On a snowy afternoon in Everett, MA, more than a dozen community members gathered to discuss a proposed public art and urban agriculture project. Hosted by MAPC’s Arts & Culture Team and ECG, with support from the City of Everett, residents shared their hopes and vision for the upcoming project along the Northern Strand Community Trail. With a working title of “Everett Earthworks” (to be officially named by the community) this sculptural garden would serve as artwork, recreational green space, and space for food production.

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The site design features circular garden beds and paths that represent ripples created by a water drop hitting the surface of water. A vertical element in the center of the garden represents the water drop, and it will feature portraits of community members and their food stories. The metaphor is that when people share their stories and grow food together, it will create a ripple effect, and more people will become involved in community gardening. *Which is what we all want!*

The “ripples” are curved garden mounds made from burying Christmas trees and branches in compost and topsoil. This method of garden construction is called “Hugelkultur” and is a great way to use tree debris to create a self-fertilizing system that requires little water once established. The community discussed planting these hugelmounds with crops that are harder to grow in small garden plots: cut flowers to attract pollinators, pumpkins, squashes, corn, herbs, and berries, for instance.

looking at designThe meeting, held in both Spanish and English, drew families and participants of all ages. MAPC’s Artist in Residence, Carolyn Lewenberg, introduced the preliminary concept and designs to the group and discussed the larger vision for the project. Participants were asked to provide feedback on the design, current use and accessibility of the site. Community growers discussed how the proposed garden could connect with other community gardens in Everett. The group shared thoughts about soil quality, watering plans, storage, meals they’d like to cook with their new produce, the challenges of currently neglected space, and the benefits that a new green space would provide.

Along the walls, Lewenberg displayed designs, as well as key questions about community benefits and impacts upon which participants shared their perspectives. One such question read: “What kinds of activities do you think would bring people together in this space?” Ideas that were generated included musical events, planting events, gatherings to pull weeds and harvest, path cleanups, lunches with food grown in the gardens, workshops, and kid’s events. Other questions generated important feedback with regards to equity, resilience, community ownership, and creating opportunities for families to be engaged.

Organizers plan to take the design feedback into consideration and present a revised design in January. Organizers are also planning community garden raising events in March and April, and will regroup after the growing season in October to ask similar questions to compare residents’ initial thoughts on the project, and assess progress made.

The Everett Earthworks project is intended to advance the City of Everett’s 2017 Open Space and Recreation Plan update, as well as a Community Food Assessment currently underway through Everett Community Growers, the City of Everett, and MAPC. Key partners in the Earthworks project also include the UMass Boston (UMB) School for the Environment and the Trotter Institute. This project is made possible with a technical assistance grant from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and with in-kind support from the City of Everett and Everett Community Growers.

Contact us for more information or to become involved in the new project! Reach us at everettcommunitygrowers@gmail.com.

Kombit Screening on Sunday July 17

Please join us Sunday, July 17 at Noon at the Connolly Center (90 Chelsea St) for a screening of Kombit: The Cooperative.

About the film: Once known as the richest agricultural country in the Caribbean, Haiti has been wracked by instability and natural disasters. Decades of decline have taken their toll on Haiti’s people, and today the country is 98% deforested with little of its once prosperous agricultural industry enduring. When Timberland commits to creating a sustainable intervention in Haiti that will lead to 5 million trees in 5 years, they work to find partners that understand the harsh realities of aid work but share the vision to build something sustainable. Over the course of 5 years, we follow Timberland’s support of a nascent partnership between a Haitian agronomist and a former NGO leader that commit to empowering communities of farmers to plant millions of trees while improving their crop yields. As the end of Timberland’s financial support approaches, SFA’s leaders race to develop new markets and opportunities for Haitian farmers that will endure and ensure a sustainable, greener future.

See the trailer here:

KOMBIT: THE COOPERATIVE (TRAILER) from Impact Farming on Vimeo.

Volunteers Needed at NSCF!

Join us to grow food at the Northern Strand Community Farm (located at the intersection of West. St. and Wellington St. in Everett!) Generally, volunteer days at the farms will take place:

  • Tuesday evenings from 5 PM-6:30 PM
  • Thursday afternoons from 2 PM-4 PM
  • Saturday mornings from 10 AM-12 PM

Check out the calendar tab for complete information!

Volunteer tasks include planting, watering, weeding, helping with the compost, helping with deliveries to the food pantry, and more! We’re SO excited about NSCF and we hope to see you there!

Food Day Celebration and Storytelling Success!

Thanks to everyone who celebrated Food Day on Saturday, October 24 with us at Common Ground Coffee Roasters! The event was a great success, and we were so excited to see many familiar faces showing up to support local food and urban agriculture in Everett.

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Residents who attended the event were able to pin a map to select their preferred site for our new farm:

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Many residents and growers also shared their stories with Tufts students for a video project being completed for a Food Justice course. And finally, we gave away amazing local apples and a gift basket which was raffled off! Thanks to everyone who attended and we hope to see you again next summer at our new farm!

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Food Day 2015: Everett Community Growers to Host Storytelling Event at Common Ground Coffee Roasters

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Join ECG at Common Ground Coffee Roasters (1727 Revere Beach Parkway in Everett) from 10AM-2PM on Saturday, October 24th to share your food stories with ECG, enter a raffle for an AMAZING gift basket, learn about the future of urban agriculture in Everett, and more! ECG wants to know how residents in Everett envision the future of community gardening and urban agriculture. Come share in the fun and invite your friends to stop by in celebration of Food Day!

RSVP here (optional):  http://www.foodday.org/eknink/everett_community_growers_food_storytelling

ECG Is a Finalist in the #GardensforGood Contest!

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Dear Supporters,

Thank you all so much for your support over the last two weeks – we finished 6th in the ‪#‎GardensforGood‬ contest, allowing us to become a finalist for an important grant! Keep your fingers crossed for ECG over the next month or so- if we are selected from the six finalists, we will be able to build a new garden next year to grow organic produce for food pantries in Everett!

As many of you know, Everett has an extremely high need for urban gardening, as demonstrated by our wait list and data from several research projects. We are truly amazed by the support shown by the community over the past year and throughout this contest, as we were up against some very well-established organizations!

We can’t wait to get folks off the wait list for garden plots and we are anticipating a great finish to the season this year and an even better season next year! None of this would have been possible without your votes and we deeply appreciate your support for a healthier Everett. Thanks especially to Everett Farmers’ Market, Mayor Carlo DeMaria,Everett Community Health Partnership, Everett Community Television and Energize Everett!

Wish us luck in phase 2 of the grant selection process!

Sincerely,

Everett Community Growers

Schedule for Educational Workshops

ECG will host educational workshops in English and Spanish at Tremont Street on Saturdays at noon, starting on June 13th. At Florence Street, the workshops will take place on Wednesdays at 6 PM, starting June 10th.

June 24/June 27

Herb Spiral Construction

July 1 (No Workshop July 4)

Rainwater Harvesting

July8/July 11

Companion Planting

July 15/July 18

Seed Saving 1: Collecting Seeds and Drying

July 22/July 25

Seed Saving 2: Wet Fermentation and Storage

July 29/August 1

Seed Saving 3: Germination Testing

August 12/August 15

Repropagating Onions and Celery

August 19/August 22

Canning and Preserving the Harvest

August 26/August 29

Crop Rotation in a Raised Bed

September 2/September 5

Caring for Chickens

Join us in either garden to learn more about how to take care of our community together!

Please contact ECG Education Coordinator Emily Nink with any questions regarding the workshops. Emily can be reached via email at everettcommunitygrowers@gmail.com.

Community Gardens at Tremont Street and Florence Street will Open on May 30, 2015

Everett Community Growers will host opening day events at both Florence Street and Tremont Street on Saturday, May 30, 2015. Gardeners will come together to participate in compost setup, garden painting, and bulletin board construction. There’s a lot of activity at both community gardens, and opening day activities will carry this momentum forward to start the season off with a bang! ECG members can join in the festivities and community building at 10:00 AM at Florence Street or at 12:00 PM at Tremont Street.

Gardeners will also discuss ongoing educational activities that will occur throughout the summer, which will include workshops on composting, seed saving, herb spiral construction, and more!

Los Jardineros Comunitarios de Everett van a acoger eventos para un día de apertura, en los jardines de la calle Florence y también en la calle Tremont, en el 30 de may de 2015. Los jardineros se reunirán para participar en la construcción de compost, pintura del jardín, y la construcción de tablones de anuncios. ¡Hay mucha actividad en los dos jardines comunitarias, y las actividades del día de apertura será llevar este impulso hacia adelante para comenzar la temporada con una explosión! Miembros del ECG pueden unirse a la fiesta y construcción de la comunidad a las 10:00 AM en la calle Florence, o a las 12:00 PM en la calle Tremont. 

Jardineros también discutirán actividades educativas en curso que se producirán a lo largo del verano, que incluirá talleres sobre compostaje, el ahorro de semillas, construcción de espiral de hierbas, y mucho más!