This year's Green Team is focusing on several garden building projects throughout the community. We are strengthening the youth's ability to brainstorm solutions and manage projects on their own. We are doing this by training the youth to create to-scale landscape maps. They are also developing their public speaking skills in order to professionally communicate a landscape overhaul for the moving company Gentle Giant. They will present the map, a version of the green space that they created (which accommodates the needs and requirements of our client), and a materials budget before building the space themselves.
In addition to the Gentle Giant project, Green Team will also serve as youth leaders during our community wide volunteer day 'Comcast Cares Day'. On April 26th, 2014, we will ban together to build an extension to South Street Farm, Somerville's first urban farm. The expansion will provide an additional 3000 sq. ft. of growing space, all of which will be farmed, harvested, and sold by the youth to low-income mobile markets during the summer months. The youth will also build a green house on the farm to jumpstart our growing season next year, while also providing additional space for tool storage. Funds for this project will be used to buy seeds, amendments, tools, and support youth salaries!
In addition to the garden projects, the youth are developing the Green Team brand. They are doing this by creating logos and images to screen print onto tote bags and tshirts to sell at the farmer's markets during the summer. This collaborative art project empowers the youth to create their own work of art, to teach themselves the process of screen printing, to encourage the disuse of plastic bags at the farmer's markets, to strengthen the visability of 'The Green Team' in Somerville, and to sell their product at an affordable price to customers. All of these projects are aimed to develop the technical skills one would need to conduct their own business, develop and manage a project, and strengthen their abilities to work collaboratively and independently for a common vision.
Over the summer Green Team grew over 150 lbs of food at South St. alone, sold 200 lbs of food at the mobile markets, and donated over 100 lbs of food to local food pantries. We painted a data mural, organized a ribbon cutting to celebrate South Street Farm, and held 3 community volunteer days throughout the year. At the end of the summer we represented Somerville at Groundwork USA’s annual service project at Yellowstone National Park. Together and in teams, we installed 400 lb bear boxes, swept gravel out of natural geyser downspouts, and built trails.
Much of the fall is being spent laying the foundations – the “groundwork” if you will – so that next year’s growing season will be even more successful. This season’s schoolyear Green Team began a few weeks ago. A major focus this year is peer education on topics relating to sustainability. Green Team give weekly presentations to each other and participate in constructive criticism workshops around themes of sustainability and permaculture.
Green Team is organizing and planning a volunteer day for this weekend, where community members will get a chance to join Green Team in working on South Street Farm. Venturing outside of Somerville, Green Team volunteered at Waltham Fields Community Farm, getting to participate in a slightly different model of sustainable, community-oriented agriculture. Green Team is also planning out the farm layout for the winter season and next spring, as well as working with landscape designers to plan the garden layout for our planned expansion of the farm to a neighboring lot – what we are calling South St. II. All of this farming requires money, so Green Team youth are rebuilding our population of red wriggler worms to have enough stock to sell our popular vermi-composting starter kits. They are also washing the soil off their hands for the more conventional activating of typing out grants requesting funding for South Street Farm. All in all, it is a shaping up to be a busy fall!
With the kick-off this summer’s Green Team, the first week of July ushered in a flurry of activity. We welcomed back returning Green Team youth and supervisors, met youth new to the program, and, of course, tuned up the donated bicycles that youth ride to the gardens where they work. Some of these brave youth had never ridden a bicycle before, but soon they were pedaling along confidently, travelling all over the city on their own power.
South Street Farm and the Schoolyard Gardens are in full swing, producing lots of carrots, collards, beans, and even herbs like Lemon Balm to sell at the three Mobile Farmer’s Markets. These markets, a partnership with Shape-Up Somerville and a Western Massachusetts farm, provide healthy, affordable food to all Somerville residents. Before each market, youth harvest vegetables and get to work washing, bunching, and packing the produce. At markets, some youth sell the produce, while others practice outreach skills by going around the neighborhood and engaging with residents to let them know about the market.
Green Team members are also looking forward to the South Street Farm ribbon cutting, at 9:15 am on July 30th. The event will celebrate Somerville’s first urban farm, as well as the completion of the on-site EcoShed, which features a rainwater harvesting roof system, a bicycle-powered water pump, and green wall, as well as storage and display space. Green Team youth, Somerville Mayor Curtatone, and Groundwork Somerville staff will speak at the event.
Green Team is coming out of hibernation! After a winter spent honing their presentation skills, and advocating actively for youth jobs funding by rallying at the statehouse and meeting one on one with their senators and representatives, The Green Team youth are carefully tending their seedlings in preparation for the spring plant. In fact, I can see them now, spritzing the little sprouts at the other end of our office.
They also worked hard all winter planning for the new South Street Farm expansion, both by creating planting plans, prepping a new construction project that will bring rain harvesting to the Farm, and by working in the cold weather to repair and move beds in anticipation of the growing season. This is when your donations really get put to work as we emerge from the shelter of these office walls, get back on our bikes and make the earth productive. Most of our food this year will be going to the Mobile Farmers Market in the summer, which travels around Somerville bringing health produce at affordable prices.
The Green Team will next be presenting at the annual Groundwork Gala on April 5th 7-10pm at the Armory at 191 Highland Ave, and hosting an Earth Day Cleanup on April 27th.
Autumn 2012 was looking like it would be a pretty typical harvest season. The returning members of our summer Green Team were busily buzzing about the city gathering the last tomatoes, bunches of basil and root veggies out of the ground, and preparing the soil for a winter rye cover crop. Following these housekeeping projects, the Green Team would typically come in for the winter and prepare one or two campaigns during the cold months to advocate for state-wide youth jobs funding, or work on designs for local parks or transit stations. However, as most of the East Coast knows, things are not so typical, thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
By no means can we say we experienced devastation up here in Somerville. Most of us, if we lost power, had it back within days. In fact, there is only one notable long-term effect our Green Team suffered, and that is the loss of our brand new greenhouse at the South Street Farm. Having constructed the greenhouse this summer, we painstakingly anchored it, tied it down, and did everything short of dismantling it completely. However, it wasn't enough, and come Tuesday, we couldn't even find it! When we did locate it, we found it over a 12 foot fence in a twisted heap of metal and plastic.
So what does this mean? This means the Green Team's new winter project is to design and build a new greenhouse so for the South Street Farm! They've already started sourcing recycled windows to build a bigger and better greenhouse. Any funding you give over the next few weeks will be essential to helping us work with a designer, source materials and make this greenhouse a reality!
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