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Somerville, MA – The Massachusetts Urban Farming Network (MassUFN) is a newly-founded nonprofit organization whose objective is to build a network of urban farmers who maintain raised beds vegetable gardens in their own backyards to supply Somerville’s Mobile Farmers Market, restaurants, and corner stores with organically-grown produce. The upfront cost of materials and site installations, provided by Green City Growers, is paid for by MassUFN as an 18-month loan. The loan is paid off through monthly installments or by selling harvested produce back into the MassUFN network. Additionally, MassUFN matches Somerville residents who want to grow but lack space, to those with the capacity for growing but without the desire to maintain it. Produce is then split by the urban farmer and site owner with the option to sell produce back into the network.
Peter Ungar founded MassUFN to “tap into a tremendous labor force that’s dormant, and supply the Somerville community with organic produce that is accessible, affordable and abundant.” Ungar is a graduate of the Urban Agriculture Ambassador Program, an intensive urban farming course taught by Green City Growers and funded by the Somerville Mayor’s Office. Ungar explains while planning Tasting Counter Restaurant, opening at Aeronaut Brewing Co in 2014, he saw a “need in the community for widespread access to organic produce that’s affordable.” Ungar hopes that experienced urban farmers and locally-minded residents will supply not only themselves, but Somerville’s Mobile Market, local corner stores, and restaurants like his.
Minimum site requirements include space for two 4-ft by 8-ft raised beds with 6 hours of sunlight and a water source. By outsourcing growing space and urban farmers, MassUFN plans to meet the community’s growing demand for local organic produce, as well as create a scalable and viable alternative to the current centralized food production system. MassUFN provides a viable avenue for knowledgeable growers to earn money, while creating a sustainable landscape of accessible, abundant and affordable produce to Somerville residents and restaurants. Ungar envisions a zero carbon footprint system using bicycles to transport the produce. “It’s time to topple the apple cart of conventional food production in a way that is sustainable to environmental and human health, regardless of location or socio-economic status.” Applications to join the MassUFN are now being accepted.
About Massachusetts Urban Farming Network: This non-profit organization unites various independent citizens in order to reduce costs, foster sustainability, and increase availability of agricultural products within our local, urban environment.
About Green City Growers: Green City Growers transforms unused space into thriving urban farms, providing clients with immediate access to nutritious food, while revitalizing city landscapes and inspiring self-sufficiency. GCG provides raised vegetable bed installation, maintenance and education services to corporate offices, schools, restaurants, grocers and residential clients.