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Converting a Food Desert to a Food Oasis

Urban Ag Ambassador ProgramAmerica’s urban neighborhoods may be vibrant, teeming-with-life, cornucopias of activity, but all too often they are also food deserts. What is a food desert? A food desert is a geographic area, generally in poor urban areas, where affordable & healthy food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. New local grocers across the country are responding to this issue, like The Market on Koke Hill opening in Springfield, IL, alongside well-established grocers expanding their fresh and organic produce. But according to NPR’s The Salt, “it takes more than a produce aisle to refresh a food desert.”Green City Growers has been tackling the food deserts around greater Boston for five years, “transforming unused space into thriving urban farms, providing clients with immediate access to nutritious food, while revitalizing city landscapes and inspiring self-sufficiency.” And this year, GCG’s sixth season, is no exception!

The City of Somerville’s Urban Agriculture Ambassador program is returning this after running as a successful pilot program last year. 20 Somerville residents will be trained by Green City Growers in urban growing techniques (including bees and chickens!), in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer service in gardening programs around the city. This program provides valuable skills to individuals to then share with their community. The deadline for submitting an application is March 10th.

Additionally, Green City Growers has submitted a proposal to the City of Somerville to convert a recently cleared lot in the midst of warehouses and box stores into a working farm designed to create jobs and provide access to fresh, organic produce to Somerville residents. A perfect closed loop for graduates of the Urban Ag Ambassador program to then put their knowledge to work!

New projects all over Somerville, like the development of Assembly Square, provide perfect opportunities to convert the food deserts of Somerville into lush food oases – one lot at a time. Let’s make it a reality, not just a mirage, together.

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