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Somerville News – Earth Day Urban Farm Expansion

South Street Farm is Somerville’s first farm. It’s part of what will be a larger urban agriculture initiative in the city. The farm is located at 100 South St. on the corner of Willow St.

On April 21 during a citywide Earth Day Weekend celebration, community volunteers and Groundwork Somerville installed 8 more raised bed gardens at the farm.

“We’re hoping to demonstrate that urban agriculture can be a sustainable business model and also provide fresh healthy local food to people who need that,” said Chris Mancini, executive director at Groundwork Somerville.

Groundwork’s environmental youth program is in charge of planting and maintaining the raised bed gardens.

Mancini and Green Team members will be working with shelters and schools to get the “food into the hands and mouths of students and people in need.”

The farm was a vacant city lot that has been made available for urban farming. When the farm opened last autumn, they put 5 raised beds down, and some of the crops have already come to fruition like garlic and kale.

“What we’re hoping is that the area will continue to change as the green line comes in,” said Mancini. He hopes that urban farming will be part of the fabric of the area.

Assisting with the urban farm was Green City Growers, who are a vegetable gardening business that installs and maintains raised beds. “We actually supervised the Groundwork Somerville Green Team and the building and the installation of the raised beds,” said Jessie Banhazl, the owner of Green City Growers.

“There’s no better way to spend Earth Weekend than installing a vegetable garden,” she said.

Shanika Flowers, 18, is one of the Green Team members that are working on positive environmental changes. “Basically right now we are just trying to make sure that we finish the garden.”

Green team members like Shanika Flowers attend to the crops, which will be sold at the Union Square Farmers Market and Mystic Mobile Market.

Adrianne Schaefer is the intern at the mayor’s office and is currently working on the Urban Agriculture Initiative. “The city is hoping to really encourage the production of local foods,” said Schaefer.

“They are trying to send the message that food security and food access is really important,” she said.

The city has recently released a set of ordinances that support the production and selling of local foods. They’re hoping it can be a chance for economic development in the city.