Jun 26, 2012
CITY HALL GARDEN YIELDS FRESH PRODUCE; NEW BLOG AND FACEBOOK PAGE HELP CITY GROWERS SHARE IDEAS ABOUT URBAN AGRICULTURE
Demonstration Garden at City Hall’s Front Door Shows Off Potential for Urban Food Production; Online, a “Somerville Urban Ag” Blog Keeps Readers Tuned in to the Latest in Grow-it-Yourself Efforts at City Hall and Beyond; SLUG (Somerville Loves Urban Gardening) Debuts on Facebook
SOMERVILLE – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced today that the new container garden installed on the steps of Somerville City Hall has been yielding a steady – and tasty – harvest of fresh produce. The project was created this past spring to promote the City’s urban agriculture initiative and to serve as visible reminder to city hall visitors and workers alike of the ways that urban gardening can improve the diet and the overall health of Somerville residents. All of the demonstration garden’s plants – which include cabbage, lettuce, beans, swiss chard, tomatoes, eggplants, peas, herbs and edible flowers – were donated by McCue’s Garden Center of Woburn, MA, and have been tended by volunteers from various City departments. Harvesting began in late May as the first cold weather crops were ready for picking. The garden is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) with assistance from the City’s Department of Public Works.
To chronicle the progress of the City Hall garden, to provide additional information about the citywide initiative, and to encourage the sharing of local knowledge and experience, the City has also established a new blog, somervilleurbanag.tumblr.com, and a special Facebook page entitle Somerville Loves Urban Gardening – or SLUG, for short.
“A container garden on the steps of city hall is a perfect way to show Somerville residents how much food can be grown in a small space – and to highlight the health, environmental and community-building benefits of shared outdoor activity,” said Curtatone. “This garden is definitely Shape Up Somerville-approved. The chard and lettuce have come in beautifully, and taste amazing.”
“Tending the blog has been almost as much fun as tending the garden, since there is so much local knowledge and energy in Somerville” said Luisa Oliveira, who serves in OSPCD as Senior Planner for Landscape Design, and oversees the entire project. “We’ve had posts about keeping bees and raising chickens in the city as well as progress reports on the garden. We hope to feature more local experts and continue to share knowledge.”
“It’s been wonderful to see how much excitement there is out there – especially on the SLUG Facebook page – about the potential to use urban agriculture to improve the quality of city life while enhancing the appearance of our community, our health, and the very air we breathe,” Oliveira said.
“When we started Shape Up Somerville to promote healthier lifestyles and combat childhood obesity, we knew that we had to look beyond school lunch menus and think comprehensively about how to encourage healthier lifestyles,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We’ve looked at ways to make the city more walkable and bike-able.; we’ve enhanced our parks system; we’ve supported healthier menu options at our restaurants; we’re working hard to get long-promised transit into Somerville to provide more transport options and improve local air quality. Each of these goals is worthy by itself, but they all work together to reinforce the idea that Somerville and its people share a passion for improving our community’s quality of life and health however we can. Urban agriculture is the latest addition to that comprehensive agenda – and the city hall garden is a highly visible and very practical reminder that good public policy can also be good fun.”