The Somerville Urban Agriculture Ambassador Program (UAAP) is an urban agriculture training/volunteer program funded by the City of Somerville as part of the city’s Urban Agriculture Initiative, and taught by Green City Growers. Up to 20 Somerville residents who apply are accepted to the program each spring, and are trained over four Saturdays at the Green City Growers office in Union Square on topics including: building a raised bed, crop planning, planting, organic soil fertility, harvesting, pest control, community leadership, Somerville’s urban agriculture ordinances, and an introduction to bee and chicken keeping.
In exchange for the training, participants are asked to volunteer at least 30 hours of service to a Somerville urban agriculture non-profit organization. Volunteers will be matched with participating organizations according to preferences, skills and location.
The UAA trainings taught me so much about preparing beds, soil, compost, crop positioning and more. I highly recommend the program to anyone interested in growing your own food and improving your local urban ecosystem. -UAA Participant, 2018
2019 UAAP Details
February 8th: Program application launches
March 8th: Application deadline
March 15th: 2019 Ambassadors chosen and notified
Sat March 30th
Sat April 27th
Sat May 25th
Sat June 22nd
Program Times: 10:00am – 4:00pm
*You are REQUIRED to attend all 4 workshops as a part of this program. Please do not apply if you cannot commit to all four dates.
Program Materials: The Urban Bounty gardening book will be available for purchase, there are also 2 copies available for use at the Somerville public library
Getting Started: Light, soil viability, locating your ideal garden space, containers vs. raised-beds vs. in-ground, small and intensive techniques
Installing a Garden: Raised-bed construction, soil selection, watering and irrigation
Planting: Picking priorities for your space, choosing plant varieties, seeds vs. starts, finding good seed and plant suppliers, creating a crop map, plant spacing, cool vs. warm weather crops, perennials and annuals
Garden Maintenance: maintaining healthy and fertile soil, organic fertilization methods, micronutrients, soil testing, spacing and thinning, transplanting, watering schedules, trellising, mulching, pest and fungal management, pruning, harvesting for maximum yield, winterizing the garden
Season Extension: Cold Frames, hoop houses, plant selection for winter growing, winter maintenance
Beyond your Garden: Intro in to how to get involved with bee keeping and chickens (based off the City’s Urban Agriculture initiatives), cooking with your produce + preservation
Community Engagement and Leadership: Learn more about the robust urban agriculture scene in Somerville along with tools and resources to be an ambassador in the community, including but not limited to: teaching others, how to lead a group, community organizing, and utilizing city resources.
Host Organizations that Benefit from UAA Volunteer Hours:
The Somerville Community Growing Center: The Somerville Community Growing Center is much more than a green space, it is where community grows. Situated on a ¼ acre of gently sloped hillside near bustling Union Square, the high school, and the library, it hosts rich programming including environmental education and cultural performances and offers unique volunteer opportunities. The program invites three UAA participants to join their work in replanting the Center post the completion of the contracted portion of the renovation, including assisting with setting up the renovated annual growing area, demonstration native plantings including edibles, and other perennial and herb areas.
Groundwork Somerville: Groundwork Somerville runs the majority of its programming with volunteer support. From internships to community service requirements, to parents involved in their youth programming, they would not be able to do the work that they do without volunteer help! They are glad to work with high school students, college students, parents, residents, retired folks, and anyone else who’s passionate about education and gardening. GWS will have a majority of UAA participants as volunteers to assist in their school programs and on their South Street farm.
Somerville Mobile Farmers’ Market: The Somerville Mobile Farmers’ Market sells fresh, local produce in Somerville, MA. Urban Ag Ambassadors have volunteered weekly at Council on Aging / SCALE site by assisting customers with their shopping and providing insight into how to use unfamiliar vegetables. Including set-up and break-down time, our ambassadors volunteer 3 hours a week almost each week of the 15 week season, fulfilling entirely the 30 hour volunteer requirement.
Can’t commit to four Saturdays and the thirty hours of volunteer service? Not a Somerville resident? Receive all the information and training provided in this program through our intensive 2-day Urban Farming Course.