Want to teach second-graders about maple syrup production, the science behind sap, and how to harvest sap from a tree? Sign up to be a Maple Syrup Educator this January-February!
More details on our Volunteer page, or you can email Lee Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to give back and get involved in local schools this winter? Sign up to be an after-school club leader with Groundwork Somerville! Check out our updated Volunteer Opportunities page today.
“Communitas is the community that is born out of an adventure, an ordeal, a challenge or a mission”- Alan Hirsch
Being a part of something greater than myself always leaves a positive residual effect on my psyche. This positivity is something I was left with after the volunteer workday out at the South Street Farm on Saturday, December 1st. As per usual, on days when a successful outcome depends on the number of people who show up, nature dumped wet snow on the road as I drove out to Mattapan to pick up shovels. When I got back to Cambridge, texts and calls were coming in from various Green Team members asking whether or not the workday was still happening.
I looked outside, saw the snow melt away, asked myself whether or not I would work in these conditions, and decided that freezing temperatures would prove a miserable workday where no one would show up. While steeped in reluctance I received a call from Laxmi, one of the Green Team members, who said, ‘We’re still working right?’ I came up with every reason to call it off but she responded quickly and positively, ‘The snow isn’t sticking’, ‘It’s not that cold out’, ‘I went running already today’, and finally, ‘I would work in this weather and I’m bringing my friends too’. As soon as I heard those magic words I knew the snow wouldn’t stop determined teens from having fun.
When I got to the site, Daniel, one Green Team member, was waiting in a sweatshirt, his bare hands tucked deep into his pockets.. “My hands are going to fall off!” I poured coffee in a cup and placed it in his palms. Dave, a volunteer who woke up early to make everyone cookies, gave Daniel his gloves. As Green Teamers and volunteers arrived at the farm radiating positivity the biting cold didn’t seem as relevant. We had groundwork to do and three hours to do it!
The purpose of the volunteer day was to move the checkerboard patterned raised beds from the west to the east side of the garden. We needed many hands to reposition a large wooden soil corral under a shady tree in addition to transfering hundreds of pounds of soil within the corral. The farm redesign would make better use of the edges while taking advantage of the sunniest spots on the lot, ultimately increasing food production come spring time.
When six Green Teamers and twelve volunteers, including one six-year old, understood the purpose of the redesign and the new placement of the beds, nothing obstructed the power of their efforts. The most challenging task for the team was moving the soil corral, a three sided 10×10 wooden structure. Together, eighteen people surrounded the structure like ants, lifted it at shoulder height, walked it over six raised beds, and placed it with precision in the corner of the lot. High fives and compliments were released from everyone to everyone. We proceeded to reposition eleven of the thirteen raised beds, two of which are now sitting on top of previously unused land between two trees against a chain-link fence (which we will use as a trellis for vegetables). We spread another layer of coconut hull mulch along the side yards (which will add nitrogen to the soil throughout the year), spread chicken fertilizer, and gave the lot a winter cleaning. All the while, Oso the dog bounded around the lot sniffing vegetables and giving kisses to volunteers. We topped off the day with homemade cookies, coffee, spiced bread and a deep sense of accomplishment.
When the crowd died down and the only tasks left were dirty shovels to clean, Daniel, who stayed an extra half hour to wash the tools with cold water, came up to me and said ‘We got a lot done today and you know what? We had fun doing it!” I looked around and stragglers were exchanging numbers, telling stories, and admiring the work we just did. The volunteer day left me with a sense of communitas, and an idea of what groundwork truly means.
Thank you to David McMaster, Caitlin Krol, Yuying Guo, Scott Lamer, Llaquelin Miguel, Rochelyn Abraham, John Bissainthe, Ashley Kulp, Owen Murphy, Courtney Cronin, Abby Harper,Peter Montague, Jennifer Rivera and Oso the dog!
Photos by Courtney Cronin
On April 27th, we will have a Groundwork-wide cleanup and gardening day from 9 am to 1 pm across Somerville and Malden, partnering with Comcast for Earth Day/Comcast Cares Day!
We are looking for as many volunteers and groups as possible to get out, get dirty, and clean up our parks, streets and gardens! Please pre-register here:
Our four sites and associated activities are:
South Street Farm, 100 South Street, Somerville, MA – Clean up, brush clearing, mural prep, planting
Healey School Garden, 5 Meacham Street, Somerville – Garden and school grounds cleanup, replenishing soil and mulch, some planting and brush removal, possibly re-staining benches
Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, 32 Shore Drive, Somerville – Weeding native plant gardens and green roof demonstration bed, fruit tree planting, clean up, invasive species removal
Northern Strand Community Trail, Malden, MA – Clean up and clearing over 3 miles of trail, including some site prep for future gardens.
Groundwork Somerville presents our Annual Fundraising Gala and Volunteer Appreciation on Friday, April 5th from 7-10pm at the Center for the Arts at the Armory.
Join us this special once-a-year night when we clean off the dirt, get dressed up, and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of the past year, while raising money for the big year ahead and toasting to our amazing volunteers and interns who have put so much effort in over the past 12 months. They’ve planted seeds, boiled syrup and built beds, and are ready to do it again this year! We’ll be celebrating all night with live music by Hornography, prizes, and beer samples.
Tickets now on sale at groundworksomerville.brownpapertickets.com
The Somerville Maple Syrup Project Presents:
The Maple Syrup BOIL DOWN Festival!
SATURDAY MARCH 9th
10am-2pm (rain or shine)
Join Groundwork Somerville on March 9th at the Somerville Community Growing Center for the annual Somerville Maple Syrup Project Boil Down! Community members of all ages are invited to 22 Vinal Avenue between 10am and 2pm to watch and learn as sap from local maple trees is boiled down into pure maple syrup over a warm fire. Enjoy syrup-tasting, kids’ activities, tapping demonstrations, live music by local band The Pennies, and more! Waffles, syrup, hot cocoa (generously donated by Whole Foods Market and Taza Chocolate) and T-shirts will be on sale. We’ll also have a table for seed order pickup from the Growing Center’s Seed Sale fundraiser.
Follow Somerville Maple Syrup news on Twitter using #mmmsyrup hashtag! Our handle on twitter is @gwsomerville.
Join Groundwork Somerville for Brunch at the Independent on Monday, January 21st (Martin Luther King Day) to try locally made maple syrup (collected and boiled in Somerville) and support the 2013 Maple Syrup Project! We’ll have syrup for sale, and the Independent will donation a portion of their profits from that day to the Maple Syrup Project. Hope to see you there!
The Maple Syrup Project is a 4 week education project for every second grade classroom in Somerville. The program culminates with a field trip to the Growing Center where students tap a tree, collect sap, and boil it into syrup on the spot!
We’re looking for interns to join us in planning and running the Somerville Maple Syrup Project, now entering its tenth year! Each winter we tap local sugar maple trees, collect the sap for 4-6 weeks, and run educational programming in the Somerville Public Schools’ second-grade classrooms, teaching about the science and history of maple syrup. Finally in early March, we host a two-day boildown event at the Somerville Growing Center, with music, snacks, tapping demos, and onsite syrup production.
We are looking for several interns in three areas: Fundraising & Marketing; Event Planning (aiding with coordination of the tapping and boildown); and Education. Click here for more information, including how to apply!