Join us for Green Saturday!!!

November 26th, 2012

Groundwork Somerville invites you to

 Green Saturday

A Post-Thanksgiving Volunteer Day at the

      South Street Farm

Saturday, Dec. 1st, 11am-2pm

Rain Date Sunday, Dec. 2nd, 11am-2pm

100 South Street, Somerville, MA

Near Taza Chocolate Factory, Behind Nissenbaum’s

Auto Recycling Center

(For more directions, contact below)

We, at Groundwork, want to start the new year off on the right side of the bed. To do this, we need to give the South Street Farm a makeover! Along with our Green Team, volunteers will keep warm by moving two compost bins from the southern side to the northwestern side of the farm. We’ll also  realign and rearrange 13 raised beds in order to fully utilize the sunniest spots in the lot! By making these simple changes now, we’ll be able to focus on planning, planting and harvesting come spring time! 

Please join us for this volunteer event. Many hands make light work!


Snacks and warm drinks will be provided during the workday.


For additional information, please visit,

email, or call 617-628-9988

The Snow Ball

November 14th, 2012

Local bands The Pennies and I Thought They Were Models will put on a winter-themed concert and variety show with music, lights, jokes, cookies, beer, wine and more! Get festive and support two great local agriculture organizations, Groundwork Somerville and Farm Aid, with proceeds from the event going to these two organizations. Donations are $10 at the door, with cookies and drinks available with your admission!


Saturday, December 8, 2012
The Barn Room at First Parish Cambridge, 3 Church St, Cambridge, MA

Community Path Public Meeting

November 14th, 2012
Green Line Extension (GLX) Public Meeting on the latest Design plans for Community Path extension (CPX)
Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
Holiday Inn Hotel Somerville, 30 Washington Street, Somerville, MA
More information on the GLX here:

This is an especially important public meeting for the Community Path Extension.  We need CPX supporters there to clamor for the CPX crossing over the Fitchburg tracks getting 100% designed, funded, and built as part of the upcoming GLX construction of the Washington Street to Lechmere Stations from 2013 to 2016.  Without this “missing link”, the CPX will come to a dead-end in between the Washington Street and Lechmere GLX T-stations.

Local Is For Lovers

November 14th, 2012

As part of Somerville Local First’s “Shift Your Shopping” campaign. Go get your holiday shop on!

We want to help Somerville shift its shopping this holiday season with a family friendly marketplace at Arts at the Armory.

Vendors and participants alike share a common mission — to support the local economy of Somerville with holiday shopping dollars!

There will also be family friendly kids’ activities by Knucklebones and Herbstalk and music from Stainless!

“The Art of Station Area Planning”

November 14th, 2012

Somerville By Design

On November 29th from 4:30-9:30, Stop by and provide feedback on the illustrations, maps, and graphics being prepared as part of this project, at this informal gallery style exhibition. There is also an Open Studio from 11-2 at the Armory.

The MBTA Green Line is being extended to Somerville, and our residents and business owners have a unique opportunity to make the neighborhoods around the Green Line stations more accessible and more attractive.  A series of urban design plans for Gilman Square, Lowell Street/Magoun Square and Ball Square will be prepared between October 2012 and January 2013.  Your input is needed to help the City and its partners to set the table for the next generation of neighborhood improvements!

Station Area Planning

November 14th, 2012

Somerville By Design – Station Area Planning

On November 28th from 6:30-8:30, Come contribute to another round of feedback where ideas developed with residents at our first Visioning Session are presented for input.

The MBTA Green Line is being extended to Somerville, and our residents and business owners have a unique opportunity to make the neighborhoods around the Green Line stations more accessible and more attractive.  A series of urban design plans for Gilman Square, Lowell Street/Magoun Square and Ball Square will be prepared between October 2012 and January 2013.  Your input is needed to help the City and its partners to set the table for the next generation of neighborhood improvements!

Let There Be Light! Winter Gardening in Somerville

November 13th, 2012

by Kristin DelViscio

Farming through all four seasons requires little more than planning ahead. The faint of heart might be discouraged by Somerville’s average winter low temperature (22 degrees Fahrenheit, putting us in plant hardiness zone 6.) Not the Groundwork Somerville Green Team! They took winter by the horns and constructed low tunnel homemade hoop houses over three raised beds in an effort to extend season production through the coldest months of the year. Even though our first frost is quickly approaching, it hasn’t yet arrived: if you haven’t thought about season extension, it’s not too late! With still a week left, you may want to “cover crop” your garden, so pick a seed and sow.

The best cover crop for this region, this late in the season, is rye. Winter rye, in particular, is hearty with an extensive root system. It can grow in soils with a low pH and can withstand cool temperatures. Looking out on rye’s bright green leaves will definitely help keep the winter blues away as well. On the farm, the Green Team scattered rye throughout ten raised beds in addition to planting spinach, mâche, and kale. We’ll try to sneak in a few rows of carrots too.

Two challenges that we face at the South Street Farm include the amount of sunlight and a source of easily accessible water. Although the lot that we grow on is large (416 sq ft) sunlight reaches 4 of the 13 raised beds throughout the day, as a tall metal corrugated fence borders the garden. Neither obstacle is insurmountable, and we’re working around them.

We rely on sunlight, of course, to make the crops grow, but in the winter it’s also a crucial source of heat! By locating the sunniest spots- the spots that collect the most light and heat- we can harness this energy with row cover above the beds. The row cover that we’re using is called Agribon 19, which is made of spun bonded polypropylene fabric. This particular fabric allows 85% of light to penetrate the cloth. Almost ideal, the cloth also provides protection from wind and frost, allowing temperatures within the beds to sustain seedlings, transplants, and soon-to-be full grown crops.

After draping the cloth over the beds (making sure to cut a few extra feet on each end of the bed in order to ensure full coverage) pull the cloth taut and secure it. Use a pipe clip, clothespin- or any other tool you find appropriate for attaching cloth to the hoop frame of the hoop house- tautness is key to preventing cloth collapse from rain or snow. We’ll also add a layer of plastic sheeting before the first snow, and that might be a good idea for you. A single layer of plastic allows light to penetrate while providing a warm blanket for our plants. A film of moisture often coats the underside surface of the plastic row cover. This moisture reflects back heat waves radiating from the soil during the day, which helps to keep the air within the house warmer at night.

As for a source of water? We have great neighbors! We use a tap across the street which requires extending a series of hoses over a road. Considering that the our green farm was once a post-industrial brown field, having access to any water allows this farm to be possible. However, to mitigate any water dependence, the Green Team has already built a rain roof catchment system right on the lot with two full barrels to supplement our current water situation. In any case, winter rye doesn’t require much water after germination. Our winter crops won’t need as much water as their summer counterparts, and we won’t give them as much- thereby avoiding any chance of mildew.

The crops we’re growing this winter have proven to be vigorous and delicious. Two leafy greens in particular that can withstand and even thrive in cooler temperatures are spinach and mâche. Spinach is particularly unique because the sugars within the leaves act as natural antifreeze. Eliot Coleman, renowned winter farmer, has shown that sweet carrots, baby leaf mesclun mixes, spinach, mâche, and leeks (to name just a few) are reliable winter farming crops. If all goes well, come early spring time, when grocery stores are devoid of local leafy greens, the Green Team will be able to proudly reap their harvests.

To supplement our hoop houses, the Green Team has begun planning and construction of cold frames! Out of reclaimed aluminum framed storm windows (found for free on craigslist!) and untreated wood lying unused around the farm, the team will not just construct (and learn how to construct) these frames but also internalize the principles behind the angled design. The frames will be used as much for hardening off start plants in the spring as for winter gardening, and providing a space to grow our seedlings for summer crops.

Yet another project in the works is the building of a more stable greenhouse on the South Street Farm. Hurricane Sandy blew away our opaque plastic greenhouse, which could’ve been a blessing in disguise. The former greenhouse, although aesthetically pleasing, was made of material too thick for light to really effectively penetrate, hindering its full potential. With all of our reclaimed storm windows, after the cold frames, we’ll set to designing a small, effective greenhouse with glass windows instead of plastic. If you’re ever in the area post-winter solstice, come and check us out! And next summer as you’re harvesting sweet tomatoes and hearty chard, consider winter season extension farming!

For more resources on season extension:

Coleman, Eliot. The Winter Harvest Handbook. River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009.

Coleman, Eliot. Four-Season Harvest. River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 1992.

For hoop house equipment and seeds:
Or, you can use PVC piping for hoops like us, purchased from Home Depot at 1.50/10 ft.

Getting Back to Your Roots: Cooking with Root Vegetables

November 13th, 2012

by Lee Dwyer

As the weather gets colder, I often crave a thick soup or some hearty roasted veggies.  And since many root vegetables come into season in winter, it’s a good time to explore certain lesser-known vegetables, such as parsnips or golden beets, while eating healthy and feeling cozy.  It’s also a great way to eat sustainably and support local farmers!

Root vegetables played an important role in New Englanders’ diets before the development of modern refrigeration technology.  Roots, bulbs, and tubers such as carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions, and rutabagas kept well through the long northeastern winters.  They also provided much-needed vitamins and minerals to ward off diseases like scurvy and even served as winter feed for livestock.  Many an old New England house still has a root cellar, usually a dark, cool corner of a basement used for storing such produce.  Today, the renewed interest in eating local, in-season food has brought some of these vegetables back into the spotlight.

Farmers’ markets are a fantastic place to find root veggies, and a lot of local markets are open through mid-November! If you’re in or around Somerville, you can also check out the Somerville Winter Farmers Market at the Armory; it’ll run on Saturdays December 1st – April 13th, from 9:30 am-2:00 pm.  Your local grocery store may not carry local root veggies or more exotic varieties, like daikon radishes or purple carrots.  However, I’ve found locally-grown parsnips at the Market Basket right off Union Square, so you never know! You may also wish to buy organic root vegetables, because even though herbicides and pesticides are often sprayed directly on the leaves, those chemicals wind up in the soil and are absorbed by roots.  In addition, potatoes are often sprayed with fungicides and chemicals to keep them from sprouting.  But if buying organic just isn’t possible for you, thoroughly washing and peeling those veggies can help a lot.

Once you have a bunch of root vegetables, what can you do with them? A simple yet flavorful way to cook them is to cut them up and roast them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Most Thanksgivings I make a cornbread and root vegetable stuffing involving turnips, carrots, parsnips, and pearl onions, which is a tasty change from the traditional stuffing recipe.  Last spring the ever-popular Clover food trucks served up a delicious parsnip-and-cheddar sandwich, which is fairly easy to replicate.  You can also find more recipes and information about root veggies on this blog by Philadelphia chef Sam Gugino. Finally, here at Groundwork Somerville we have a tried-and-true Root Veggie Hash recipe.  It’s always a favorite when we cook it in the after-school clubs, as a way to learn about plant roots and to introduce the students to some new vegetables. I’ve even taught kids to like beets and radishes using this recipe!

Root Veggie Hash

4 carrots
2-4 parsnips (depending on size)
3 small yellow potatoes
3 small red potatoes
2-4 beets (depending on size)
4 radishes
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt, pepper, & garlic powder to taste

Note: you can add or substitute various root veggies, including turnips, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, or rutabagas.


Wash veggies thoroughly, and peel carrots, parsnips, and beets (and turnips or rutabagas if you use them).  Grate all the veggies together into a large bowl.  Kids as young as 6 can help with these steps; just show them how to safely hold a peeler and grater, and make sure they don’t peel or grate too close to their fingers.  Also, you may want to wear an apron while grating the beets, because their juice can stain your clothes.

Using a fork, stir so that all the root vegetables are mixed well.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  Turn stove on medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat the surface of a non-stick pan or skillet (or griddle if you have one).  Gently spoon the hash mixture on the pan and flatten to cover entire surface.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes browning on one side, then flip so both sides of the hash can get light brown and crispy.  Stir hash and serve!

Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry they are.