The City of Somerville and Green City Growers are still accepting applications for the 2014 Urban Agriculture Ambassador program. The program, which is a community-based food education intitiative, started as a pilot last year. This year, the program will train 20 residents in urban growing techniques. In exchange for receiveing the free training, volunteers are asked to provide 30 hours of volunteer service in garden projects throughout the city.
The 2014 Urban Agriculture Ambassador program is one of many initiatives by the Mayor’s Office that aims to partner with community groups on food systems and creative growing techniques. The program’s partner, Green City Growers, is a Somerville-based urban agricultural company. One mission of the partnership and curriculum is to share knowledge within the community about growing food within an urban setting. Other missions are to provide opportunities for local economic activity, to increase access to healthy food and nutrition education, and to encourage neighborhood-based leadership and social interaction. The volunteer requirements are just one component of meeting all of these mission statements.
Last year, the volunteer hours completed by those who were trained through the program were completed at eight different host sites. The volunteers were paired with specific projects based on their skills, preferences and location. Those organizations that participated last year included The Growing Center, The Walnut Street Center, Groundwork Somerville, The Healey School, East Somerville Community School, Shape Up Somerville, The Council on Aging and The Welcome Project. While these same organizations are likely to participate in the program again in 2014, the Program Coordinator for the 2014 Urban Agriculture Ambassador program is looking for more participating community groups. Organizations interested in participating in the program should contact Adrianne Schaefer-Borrego at [email protected]
Program participants will complete training on four consecutive Saturdays starting on March 29. The April training dates will be April 5, 12 and 10. Topics covered on the training days will include building raised beds, troubleshooting pests, planting and harvesting, and an introduction to chicken- and bee-keeping. Local experts will also provide presentations and will complete several hands-on field visits.
The program is open to all Somerville residents. Anyone interested in participating in the program must complete the application by March 10. Applications are available at all three Somerville Library branches. An application can also be obtained by emailing [email protected]