Thursday, December 29, 2011

Arugula Recipes

Bountiful Brookline has been growing arugula in our new hoops houses this Fall ( click here to read more about the hoop house construction ). I just harvested the last of this delicious green, which isn’t hardy enough to survive through the dead of winter. Arugula is a extremely nutritious, high in vitamins A, C, and K; B-complex vitamins; copper and iron minerals; phytochemicals; and anti-oxidents.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Importance of Heirloom Seeds in Local Food Systems

It seems slightly early to be thinking of next year’s garden (it doesn’t even feel like winter yet!), but 2012 seed catalogs have already begun to arrive in my mailbox. Flipping through the pages, I am enchanted by the colorful photos of so many different varieties of vegetables and I always come across a beautiful heirloom seed that I have never heard of before. While I think every gardener should take a much-deserved break in the winter months, I also don't think it's ever too early to start planning for next season. (And for those of us who can never seem to get enough of working in the dirt, planning provides us with reasons for daydreaming of lush gardens!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seasonal Recipes

Try out a couple new dishes from Marie, our Garden Coordinator!

Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons, gets me thinking a lot about food. I tried to use as much local and home-grown food as possible in my family's holiday meal this year, which consequently consisted of lots of delicious root vegetables and fresh greens. Arugula salad and roasted delicata squash were two of my favorite dishes (and also two of the simplest!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Season Extension: Eating fresh food throughout the winter

Hoop house construction at the Greenside Out Garden.
Late fall is a bittersweet time in the garden. I often feel a mix of emotions - pride in the hard work and bountiful harvest of the season, relief that the garden no longer needs to be tended to so diligently, a sadness as the supply of fresh vegetables dwindles, and a determination to have an even better garden next year.

Yet even in cold Northeastern climates, the onset of winter does not have to mean the end of all fresh produce. There are several techniques for growing food during this chilly time of year. At the Greenside Out Garden, we built hoop houses (also known as low tunnels) in which we are growing arugula (that tastes delicious right now!), and we have two cold frames with kale.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ecological Gardening: Improving the Health of Your Garden’s Soil

Sunday's workday at the Goodwin Garden.
At Bountiful Brookline’s workday this past weekend, we put the Goodwin Garden to bed for the season.  With the help of volunteers, we pulled out all of the annual vegetable plants and flowers and added this green matter to our yard waste compost pile to decompose.
Beyond cleaning up the garden, we focused on building the soil.  Healthy soil is essential to growing healthy plants and, in turn, to supporting healthy creatures - like us - who eat those plants!  Healthy soil is dependent upon the abundance of soil life: microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and larger organisms such as earthworms, millipedes, and mites. These organisms break down organic matter (food scraps, manure, leaves, dead vegetation, among many others) into nutrient-rich humus, an important component of healthy soil structure.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Match Made in Brookline

Harvested tomatoes to share with Tommy.
Peggy wanted to share her garden with someone.  After many years of cultivating a small portion of her yard in her spare time, she wished to expand and devote more serious attention to it.

Anna grew up with her grandmother’s and mother’s extensive back-yard gardens and was living in a condo with no outdoor space.

We met at the Garden Sharing workshop at Bountiful Brookline’s Spring into Gardening event in March. Peggy, a panelist, described her rewarding experience partnering the previous year with a neighbor who subsequently moved to another city.  Anna, in the audience, was eager to find an opportunity to grow food somewhere close by.  As it turned out, we lived a short walk from each other, and we forged a partnership to share an organic garden.   Another workshop participant, Tommy, volunteered to help us dig, accepting in return a share of our tomato harvest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You're Invited to a Bountiful Garden Party

Bountiful Brookline Garden Party
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
Rain or shine!

5:00 pm  - 7:30 pm
Goodwin Garden
11 Goodwin Place in Brookline Village
across from the main library

Hosted generously by the Lockwood family.
Catered by Plough and Stars, Cambridge.
Organic wine from "la escencias de la tierra" vineyards Mendoza, Argentina
provided by Rudolpho Peyrano

Celebrate the season with refreshments and door prizes, amidst the sights and sounds of summer!
The Goodwin Garden lasagna beds - layered with soil-enhancing, weed-inhibiting organic material - in Bountiful Brookline's shared garden space in the Lockwood family back yard are ripe with summer and winter squash, green, gold and purple beans and more.

Please join us:
$20/$25: members/non-members
Become a member and attend: $40 individual/ $75 for two
All proceeds benefit Bountiful Brookline programs in the community.

Click the link below to RSVP!
Register Now!
For more information, contact
[email protected]

Can you loan us a few resin chairs to use at the Garden Party?  We will pick them up Tuesday or Wednesday and return them on Thursday.  Please contact [email protected] Subject line: Attention Jenny - chairs.

Thank you for your continued support!  We look forward to seeing you at Goodwin Garden!

photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell

Talking with the Teens of Teens Grow Food

Weeding at HSVCG (photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell)

The Bountiful Brookline youth program Teens Grow Food is in high gear as the produce in our gardens ripens.  We recently talked with four TGF participants, all students at Brookline High School: Oscar, Josh, and twin brothers Ricardo and Stefano.  The twins grew corn, beans and other vegetables in Haiti; however, while Oscar's mother grew up on a farm and can relate to his summer experience, he and Josh are new to growing food.

TGF has worked this summer in Bountiful Brookline's two demonstration gardens, Greenside Out Garden at the Brookline Community Foundation and Goodwin Garden in the back yard of the Lockwood Family on Goodwin Place, and in community gardens at Brookline Housing Authority sites including High Street Veterans Community Garden and Sussman House elderly and disabled housing.

Stefano enjoyed sampling new kinds of food like blueberries and purple beans. Oscar's favorite part of the program was observing nature and seeing how things are, away from the distractions of TV.  For Josh, the hard work was a good workout, one with a purpose and many rewards: helping people to have better food grown without chemicals, spending time with his TGF crew mates, and overcoming his fear of squishing bugs by "thinking about what the bugs would do to the plants."

Hunting for squash borers at Goodwin Garden
Yes, bugs.  Oscar gave a concise description of how to hunt and remove squash borers (using the method taught by BB garden coordinator, Jenny LaVigne): Since the borers get inside the plant, they had to cut open the stems, pick out the larvae and kill them.  The teens also encountered caterpillars in the greens that seemed very much like the leaf miners that got into the spinach during the late spring.

Squash borer revealed (photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell)
But it wasn't all bugs. Ricardo pointed out that they also worked on construction of raised beds. Under the direction of BB intern JD Hutchison-Maxwell, the teens learned how to water the gardens correctly - close to the ground; and harvested, weighed, recorded and delivered fresh produce from the gardens for delivery to the food pantry at St. Paul's Church. To raise money for Bountiful Brookline programs, this year some of the produce  is being delivered to Lineage in return for a donation.  Look for Bountiful Brookline on the Lineage menu!

Despite the bugs and some hot humid days in the sun, all four said they would definitely do it again.

Josh's pet earthworm (photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell
Another raised bed under construction at Sussman House

Bountiful Brookline at Lineage

JD is pleased with a job well done

Brookline Farmers Market

When Arlene Flowers became manager of the Brookline Farmers Market in 1994, she wanted families to be able to find everything they need for dinner there, including flowers on the table.  Today that vision is fulfilled every Thursday from 1:30-dusk as vendors of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese and flowers fill the parking lot on Centre Street in Coolidge Corner.  Between 2000 and 3000 people shop there each week.

Arlene Flowers overlooks the Farmers Market
Early in the season before most produce has ripened, arts and crafts booths take over some spaces, but by midsummer, the market is overflowing with heirloom and field tomatoes, peaches, corn, berries, eggplants and other fruits of the harvest. Many of the same vendors come back year after year, including one woman in her 80s who sells at seven markets each week. The Brookline Farmers Market is the only one in Massachusetts operated by a non-profit corporation.

Paul Harris, who with his wife Mary helps to manage the market, appreciates the "continuity of history."  As he pointed out, people have been gathering on market days for thousands of years. It's a way to stay connected, a time to see friends and neighbors. Another connection is integral to the Farmers Market as well - the connection between rural and urban communities that helps to support a local economy.

Bountiful Brookline is at the Farmers Market too, with information about what we do and how to become involved.  Stop by and say hello. If you can spend a couple of hours a week volunteering at the BB table, please contact [email protected] or put your name on the schedule at

Beyond Brookline: Stem to Root

A recent article in the New York Times, " ," described a modern take on the old adage waste not, want not: stem-to-root cooking.  Many cooks, both in professional settings and at home, are reviving or developing techniques for using edible parts of plants that are all too often discarded like cauliflower and broccoli leaves, pickled watermelon rind and toasted watermelon seeds, pickled nasturtium seed pods as a substitute for capers, onion tops and citrus peel.  The article has a short list of tips for how to use unfamiliar items and links to several farm and cooking sites including a website maintained by "Ronna Welsh, a cooking teacher in Park Slope, Brooklyn, who chronicles her adventures with chard stems and watermelon rinds on her Web site Purple Kale Kitchenworks, in a column called ' .'"

Monday, August 1, 2011

Celebrate the summer harvest with Bountiful Brookline!

You're Invited to:
A Bountiful Garden Party

Bountiful Brookline's newest garden is ripe with tomatoes, green beans and more!

Celebrate the season with cocktails, food, raffle prizes, and the sights and sounds of summer!

Hosted generously by the Lockwood family, please join us:

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
Rain or shine!
5:00 pm  - 7:30 pm
11 Goodwin Place

$20/$25: members/non-members
Become a member and attend: $40 individual/ $75 for two

All proceeds will benefit Bountiful Brookline programs and the Brookline community.

Cick the link below to RSVP:

If you have any questions about the event or how to register, please contact us at [email protected] .

Thank you for your continued support!  We look forward to seeing you at Goodwin Garden!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blueberry Festival on Aspinwall Hill

Bountiful Brookline board member and friend of Aspinwall Hill, Peggy Ueda, reports:

Co-organizer Peggy Ueda removes bird netting
from the blueberry bushes
The Friends of the Paths and Park on Aspinwall Hill celebrated the new blueberry bushes that now top our hill in Schick Park.  On a day that saw temperatures reach into the 90’s, neighbors gathered to enjoy ice cream and blueberries as well as good companionship, sports and games.  People brought their own dishes and utensils or used cones to make this a no-impact event.

The large multi-generational crowd admired the five handsome, high-bush blueberry bushes planted by the Town on request by the Friends, who were in the first place inspired by Bountiful Brookline to seek edible plantings in the park.  In fact the Friends group, which maintains and improves Aspinwall Hill’s unique network of seven paths and Schick Park, was formed last year on Bountiful Brookline’s challenge to identify edible potentials in Brookline neighborhoods.  We send a big thanks to Bountiful Brookline for getting us started!

Co-organizer Jenn Meader serves ice cream and blueberries while neighbor Reed Ueda looks on and Jenn's dog Rosie is at the ready for any droppings.

Nicky McCatty enjoys a dish of ice cream and blueberries while Mark Lowenstein shakes a mixture to make his own ice cream.

Neighbors Karen Halvorsen, her mother and
Connie Regolino relax in the shade

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garden report & Teens Grow Food

Brendan and the Beanstalk at Greenside Out Garden
Bountiful Brookline's demonstration gardens are doing well, the Greenside Out Garden paths are freshly mulched, and we've had several great harvests in the past couple of weeks. Here below are a couple of shots taken in late June of the beans, squash, and pumpkins looking good over at the Goodwin Garden .
Goodin Garden & Shed
Goodwin Garden Growing
July has kicked our garden activities into high gear. Bountiful Brookline is especially excited to announce the 2nd season of Teens Grow Food (TGF), which started on Tuesday, July 5th. The goal of this 8 week summer program is to employ and empower area teenagers to grow food, engage their community, and further Bountiful Brookline's vision of a local food system accessible to all. We are very excited to have a crew of 6 youth who will work at BB's gardens and at several Public Housing sites to establish and support gardens and other growing efforts throughout town. The teens will handle regular maintenance and harvest duties from Tuesday-Thursday at both of BB's gardens.

Tomatoes on the Vine at Greenside Out
However, we still very much need volunteer help from Friday-Monday for routine garden maintenance. We have a regular volunteer crew, but summertime brings vacations and weekend outings, so anyone interested in helping out please contact JD at [email protected] , Garden Volunteer in the subject line..

Going forward, there will be the occasional workdays for big plantings and projects as well as some garden-focused events and fundraisers.

Garden Wish List:
Our gardens need the following. If you can help, please contact JD at [email protected] please put Garden Materials in the subject line:
-Clean produce packing bags and boxes-save some of those clear plastic bags and clear plastic containers from your food purchases, we can use them (and rubber bands too).
-Tools, specifically we need scissors, hammers, screwdrivers, and pliers. .
-Some paints and paint brushes for making garden signs, labeling beds, and other projects. Most size brushes will do, but waterproof paint is a must.
J.D. Hutchison-Maxwell
Garden Coordinator, Bountiful Brookline

High Street Veterans Community Garden

HSVCG is also looking bountiful. Thanks to Kathleen Nichols for the photos.

Beyond Brookline: Connecting around the table in New Orleans

Impressively hot, humid weather can make the summer in New Orleans a painfully slow-moving season. The peaches, tomatoes, okra, blueberries, and mustard greens aren’t complaining, though.

I’m here for summer research, mapping food assets in and around the city, and mostly getting an earful. A stranger spent fifteen minutes at a roadside produce stand telling me how to cook okra right. Fishermen at the Westwego market explained that some of their best customers are people who relocated after Katrina and return to their new homes with ice chests of Gulf seafood. With a long subtropical growing season and food traditions from Cajun to Creole to Vietnamese, New Orleans knows food. Still, healthy and affordable groceries are miles from many neighborhoods. As in most US cities, corner stores here stock a lot of beer and a lot of packaged snack food.

I spent an afternoon in June at a lively “food roundtable” conversation among a group of about 30 rural and urban growers, educators, chefs, students, policy workers and community members in the area. The questions explored, broadly, were: How do we connect within the food system? How can we strengthen these connections and effect change?

At Hollygrove Market & Farm in northwest New Orleans, the local-produce CSA boxes overflow. Hollygrove’s setup allows patrons to choose either a generous prix-fixe box of produce or per-pound and per-piece fruits and vegetables. Unlike a typical CSA arrangement, however, which generally functions between individuals and a single farm, HM&F allows customers to support a network of farmers and producers in the region, while the farm space leads community education and outreach through demonstration gardens and plots for interested neighborhood gardeners.

Market manager Alyssa makes weekly produce runs to farms, packing impressive amounts of melons and mustard greens (this week) into the market’s only van, and farmers who sell to other markets in the city can drop off at their convenience. Close relationships with farmers allow Alyssa to move effectively between consumers, chefs, and growers, even making planting recommendations and communicating to growers, for instance, marketgoers’ desire to see more natural and organic produce – no easy feat in a state where agriculture research is heavily funded by the same companies that make synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. On the market side, too, Alyssa’s firsthand knowledge of these farms means she can vouch for growing practices. Last Friday I volunteered doing market setup, and as I bagged Cajun Grain rice (a blend of wild red and jasmine rices, grown in Kinder, LA), farmers delivered herbs and mushrooms, chefs stopped in for boxes of greens and figs, and community members watered their basil starts.

The central sticking point of much food work – that is, that ethically-produced local and/or organic food remains inaccessible for poor communities – is certainly present at Hollygrove, too. Much of the surrounding neighborhood shops for groceries at Walmart, a recent survey showed, despite the cross-town commute and HM&F’s discounts on CSA boxes for neighbors. By physically rooting down in the local community, though, Hollygrove Market & Farm is dedicated to becoming an institution, supporting local and ethical growing while facilitating a connection to good seasonal eating for all.

The food roundtable’s initial task was to define roles within the food system. Who plays a part, and how? Backyard gardeners? Teachers? Grocery chain managers? Chicken farmers? Being a very temporary resident, I mostly observed. Still, the discussion reminded me of my capacities as student, gardener, and cook. The people in that room represented various ways to enter the food system. For many of us, such interactions involve growing a few of our own vegetables, supporting regional growers, getting excited about eating seasonally. In New Orleans, and anywhere, these choices can be as much economic and political as they can be tasty and joyful.
Isabel Neal is a student at Pitzer College.
She will be in New Orleans until August researching the regional food system.

On Blueberry Hill

On Wednesday July 20 from 5-7 p.m the Friends of the Paths and Park on Aspinwall Hill will celebrate the edible additions to Schick Park.

Parks Department crew planting blueberries

In June the Brookline Parks Department planted 5 high bush blueberry bushes for the community to share on the hillock in Schick park.between the ball field and the playground. The blueberry bushes are now in fruit!  Join the Friends in cooling off with ice cream and blueberries in the park on Wednesday evening. If you like, bring a blueberry dish or recipe to share.  This event is free and no impact—so please bring your own dish and spoon.  And bring balls, mitts, frisbees etc. for some sports and games; there will be a badminton net, too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Help us spread the word about Bountiful Brookline at the Brookline Farmers Market

If you have not already heard, Bountiful Brookline has been tabling at the Brookline Farmer's Market every Thursday!  At our table at the market we will be finishing up a Brookline Foods Initiative survey and continuing to spread the word about our organization's gardening and community program opportunities. We hope you will be able to join us at the market to share your BB experiences with our community.

We need volunteers throughout the market season for three (flexible) shifts:
1:30 pm - 3 pm   *   3 pm - 4:30 pm   *   4:30 pm - 6 pm
Thursdays at the Centre Street parking lot in Coolidge Corner

We have a volunteer sign-up schedule at this link

Please provide your name, email, and the times you would like to volunteer.

Our most pressing date for volunteers is tomorrow, Thursday, July 7th.  If you are available at any time during the market please sign up on the schedule (link above).  Of course, if you can't stay for the entire time that is fine.  We all have different schedules!  Just email [email protected] with your availability.  Also, feel free to sign up for more shifts if you would like to stay longer!

Even if you are able to volunteer for only a couple of shifts in the next few months, your participation and presence would be a great help for furthering BB's work!  Also, be sure to sign up on the schedule in advance if your availability permits it.

Thank you for all your support.  Hope to see you at the market!
Margolit Sands, Bountiful Brookline Administrative & Programs Intern

PS:  Don't forget to fill out the Bountiful Brookline Survey by July 15 at

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Four Revolutionary Gardeners for the Fourth of July

With the British fleet gathering at New York, George Washington took time from his command of the revolutionary army to write a letter home to his gardener, with instructions to plant a new garden containing only native plants. This bit of history was unearthed in a recently published book, The Founding Gardeners , by Andrea Wulf.  On NPR's Science Friday for July 1, Wulf discussed her book, which portrays Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison as farmers and gardeners in their personal lives who also held a larger vision of farming and gardening as a critical part of the American identity and as a necessary endeavor for the economic well-being and self-sufficiency of the young nation.

Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds at Jefferson's home Monticello, who also appeared on the Science Friday show, said that Jefferson was a staunch supporter of the local farmers' market and on his own estate grew over 300 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit, keeping careful records of both successes and failures.  Of course, as the radio guests acknowledged, the heaviest work was performed by slaves, but they claimed that these four Founding Fathers were involved with their farms and gardens in a hands-on way. Jefferson sowed seed; Madison described the patched up holes in his gardening trousers, indicating said Wulf, that he spent a fair amount of time down on his knees in the dirt. An early environmentalist, Madison warned Americans to be careful not to destroy the forests or deplete the soil.

Having often passed by the the Adams family homes while growing up in Quincy, MA, I was disappointed that more was not said about John Adams (who did not own slaves). Perhaps there is more in the book - we know from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams that he was very involved in the details of family life and he relied on her to run the farm and household during his many absences for business and political purposes.

While in Europe for diplom atic purposes, Adams and Jefferson undertook a tour of British farms, which were well known and well regarded. Fearing that access would soon be curtailed due to the impending war of independence, their trip was intense and purposeful.  To their surprise, they found many plants that had been imported to England from America. A uniquely American contribution to garden design was the combination of useful and ornamental plants grown together in a common coordinated setting.
Listen to the Science Friday segment online: " Growing A Revolution: America’s Founding Gardeners"
The book is The Founding Gardeners , by Andrea Wulf (Knopf, 2011)
Check out the Monticello website for more information about Jefferson's gardens and the
Center for Historic Plants at Monticello which "collects, preserves, and distributes historic plant varieties" and sells seeds online for varieties that Jefferson favored.

D on't forget to fill out the Bountiful Brookline Survey
between now and July 15 at the link below.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Survey Says .........Whatever You Say It Says

Please fill out a brief survey to improve Bountiful Brookline's efforts
to increase opportunities for edible gardening in our community.

Bountiful Brookline, a volunteer-based local food initiative, was founded in 2009 in response to unmet needs for locally grown food. Our vision is for Brookline to create and sustain a local food system that is accessible to all.

Land costs and availability in Brookline, an urban edge community, make it unfeasible to create a single site community farm. With almost 60,000 residents and one 80 plot community garden, access to garden space is further limited as more than 70 percent of Brookline residents live in densely developed multifamily housing.

The purpose of this very brief survey is to gain feedback from the community about locally grown foods and gardens, and to find ways to make these more available to the public and to serve our community better.
follow this link to go to the survey:

Saturday June 18 - Garden Workday & Brookline Food Waste Collection Day

Bountiful Brookline Demo Gardens
next workday Saturday June 18, 2011
10:30 am Goodwin Garden 11 Goodwin Place
1 pm GreenSide Out Garden 40 Webster Place
join our volunteer crew
for information contact   [email protected]   Attn: JD or Jenny

Garden Update from JD
We had a big turn-out at the workday on June 5. It was great to see lots of faces new and old, and with all of the hands we got a lot of great work done.

After weeding we planted 6 beds at the Goodwin Garden with a wide assortment of large-seeded vegetables, including zucchini, pumpkin, 3 types of bush beans, and 6 varieties of squash!  Plus some nasturtiums scattered in with the beans to repel bugs like beetles and aphids . We also continued developing the garden, whose shape and design continue to evolve. It feels great to finally plant in these sheet mulched 'lasagna' beds, which are the product of many weeks of many peoples' hard work.
[Update: the seeds we planted on the 5th are coming up as you can see in the photo on the right!]

Waiting for more lasagna bed layers
Seedlings emerge from finished lasagna beds
We're happy to take donations of compost & mulch.
See what a difference it makes to our lasagna beds!

During the afternoon we tended the GreenSide Out Garden, weeding, watering, and transplanting some young broccoli from the cold frame. They are a bit leggy, but they should do fine with more room to grow in a freshly amended bed. We also mulched and fed the many tomato, pepper, eggplant, and other seedlings there, which are all doing well. The garden looks great, and we have begun harvesting and delivering peas, leafy greens and herbs to the the St. Paul's Church food pantry.

Annabel helping with harvest at GreenSide Out
We harvest and deliver when the food pantry is open: Tuesday and Thursday 10am and Sat 2pm. We always record our crops either by weight or by the unit (like bunches of herbs), and document them in a book in the shed. The daily schedule for tending the garden and harvesting is starting to fill out, but we are looking for more volunteers who who can come during the week to help with regular maintenance and harvesting. Two people a day is best - more fun to work together and also to provide back-up for each other.
J.D. Hutchison-Maxwell, Bountiful Brookline Garden Intern

High Street Veterans Community Garden
HSVCG yard sale

Michael Gould, HSVCG Coordinator, Reports
All is fine at High St.- our seedlings are digging in and starting to look happy! Our community site looks amazing. The yard sale was a total success. We're rich. The entire community pitched in. So many people from the surrounding Neighborhood joined the excitement. Folks are still talking about it.

Brookline Food Waste Drop Off Day
Saturday June 18, 2011
Town Hall Parking Lot
9 am - noon

The Brookline Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) is sponsoring a “food waste drop-off” on Saturday morning June 18, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon at the Town Hall parking lot. SWAC wants to assess community interest in removing kitchen waste from the trash stream.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, rice, beans and pasta, eggs, egg shells, and coffee grounds, for this event SWAC will take meat, poultry, seafood, fat, bones, and dairy products. They'll also collect food-soiled paper such as coffee filters, (SWAC member John Dempsey, via email notice from the Aspinwall Hill Neighborhood Association.)

SWAC member Cynthia Snow provided more informatoin:
The collected food waste will be taken by Save That Stuff to a commercial composting site that they use for compostables collected from various places (universities, schools, Whole Foods, etc.)

SWAC is trying to raise awareness and gauge interest at present.  This may lead to more collection days and hopefully eventually to curbside pick-up. [BB Editor's note: When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in Quincy, MA, we kept food waste in a closed bucket by the garage for weekly pick-up by a pig farmer.]

Food waste makes up approximately 20-25% of residential waste, and since it is often “wet” and therefore heavy, it accounts for a substantial cost for disposal (assessed by the ton), as well as rotting and producing methane (a powerful greenhouse gas).  Therefore, composting—which turns food waste into very valuable fertilizer to replenish the soil—saves money in waste disposal costs and helps cut the emission of greenhouse gases.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Don't Forget the High Street Veterans Community Garden Yard Sale...

HSVCG Multi-Family Yard Sale
Saturday May 21 from 10 am - 2 pm
Corner of Cypress & Chestnut Streets
all proceeds to benefit HSVCG garden
everyone welcome

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bountiful Brookline's Demonstration Gardens

May 1 Workday Report from JD. We are excited to report about our weekend garden activities and to let you know about our next big workday, planned for May 15th. We will meet at 11am at the Goodwin Garden (11 Goodwin Place) and continue to layer the lasagna beds - also known as sheet mulching, which involves putting down layers of soil-enhancing material  before planting . Around 1pm we will head over to the Greenside Out Garden (40 Webster Place) to weed and water our early crops there and plant some seedlings we will be getting from the ReVision Urban Farm (in Dorchester, check it out .

Jenny & Joan at GreenSide Out

On Sunday May 1 Joan, Laurie, Jenny, and JD enjoyed a beautiful May Day in the gardens. We seeded some herbs and weeded and watered the many crops that are poking their heads up at the Greenside Out Garden on the grounds of the Brookline Community Foundation, including peas, onions, salad greens, spinach, broccoli, and more! It will always amaze me to witness this annual cycle of growth, with Nature's brilliance guided by humble human hands, start again. We finished our day at the Goodwin Garden with some more sheet mulching and some vigorous digging of unwanted guests (day lillies and knotweed). ). Thanks for the great energy and high spirits guys, you really make this work worthwhile.

Everyday garden maintenance: We are putting together a schedule for the more regular garden tasks, mainly watering and weeding, and we want some dedicated volunteers who can sign up for about 1 hour, one day a week. The germinating seeds and seedlings need to be kept consistently moist in their first few weeks--a couple of dry hot days can kill them without watering! The schedule will probably change over the season, so stay tuned if you are interested but can't sign up now.

We will give an introduction to proper weeding and watering techniques so everyone is on the same page. Ideally we will have a pair per day (in case someone can't make it).

Please email JD to volunteer for workdays and/or regular weekday maintenance. [email protected]

High Street Veterans Community Garden

To Bountiful Brookline Michael Gould is the coordinator of the High Street Veterans Community Garden. To the resident gardeners he is their elected foreman. For Michael, the garden is about the community, about neighbors getting together in a positive project, about the conversations a tomato plant provokes or a meeting in the laundry room on a chilly day when the community room was unavailable. It's about being resourceful and discovering the wonders of compost. For this Bronx native who will never lose the New York accent, the gardening learning curve has been steep and exhilarating, but when it comes to organizing and group dynamics he's like a fish in water.

HSVCG Multi-Family Yard Sale
Saturday May 21 from 10 am - 2 pm
Corner of Cypress & Chestnut Streets
all proceeds to benefit HSVCG garden.
Everyone welcome.
(pronounced with a Bronx accent)

HSVCG is also about the kids - kids gardening alongside their parents, the little girl who cried when her tomato plant was torn out during fall clean-up, the small child munching on a cucumber, skin and all, while her dad ate a fresh-picked tomato. If things go according to plan, the kids will have their own garden this summer in a raised bed already prepared with compost.

This is the third year for the community gardens at High Street Veterans Housing. The original plot is now a common space where the motto, prominently displayed, is "If you want to eat it plant it & weed it." A mesh shoe rack filled with plastic cups, each one seeded with greens, forms a vertical garden hanging on a fence.  One section of this original garden will be planted this year according to a Native American technique called "Three Sisters": first corn, then beans which will climb the cornstalks and fix fertilizing nitrogen with their roots, then squash which will spread over the ground and keep it cool in the heat of summer. To complete the traditional array, some fish will be buried to nourish the soil.

In 2010 HSVCG was looking for a way to expand. Bountiful Brookline Director Cathy Neal urged the residents to put in raised beds on a vacant cement terrace that once held clotheslines. With fundsm materials and technical assistance from Bountiful Brookline and other sources the beds were installed and allocated to families who each pay a small amount in annual dues.

This year ten families have signed up for plots. With a grant from a regional non-profit, trellises for climbing plants were placed against the walls that frame the terrace gardeen on two sides. There's talk of using the community room kitchen to can produce for the winter.

It's early in the season yet, but the compost bins are percolating with kitchen scraps and unsold produce from Kurkman's market and raked up leaves from the Brookline Housing Authority.  The pea shoots are up and the cold frame is full of seedlings waiting to go in the ground. More seedlings will come from ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester. Saturday May 14 is planting day.

Beyond Brookline

Roots of Organic Agriculture

For millennia organic agriculture is all there was, but since the mid-nineteenth century chemically-based agriculture, with its aura of scientific progress, has grown to become  the "conventional" way - as can be seen in the produce aisles of any grocery store - rendering organic agriculture unconventional, exotic, quixotic.  While organic farming may be tinged in the public's mind with a hippie lifestyle image, the pushback against chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides began in Europe in the late 1800s not long after chemically based practices were invented. In the 1940s Sir Albert Howard and J. I. Rodale and others took up and popularized the movement for organic agriculture.  Rodale Press remains one of the most important sources of knowledge about organic practices. In the 1960s and 1970s going back to the land was a part of the questioning, rebellious ferment of the times.  Today, interest in how food isproduced, distributed and consumed is coming from a convergence of movements for environmental sustainability, healthy lifestyles and healthy communities.

Writing in Grist, the online environmental news source, Eliot Coleman - author, horticultural researcher and farmer in Harborside, Maine with 30 years of organic farming experience - described the early history of the organic agriculture movement and the biological principles at its roots.  While many pre-industrial agricultural practices have cultural and traditional origins, as Coleman explains, scientific understanding of ecology and of natural processes like nitrogen fixation, mycorrhizal association (symbiosis between fungi and plants) and soil microbes underlies the principles of organic farming today.

Within a few decades of the beginnings of chemical farming, some farmers began to realize that this approach produced an endless need for new chemicals, new techniques, "new crutches to solve the problems it creates."  Natural processes, on the other hand, combined with intelligent management, generate a replenishing cycle that improves soil fertility, reduces pest problems and optimizes the nutritional value of food. Among the techniques used to accomplish these core objectives are crop rotation including a period of grass/clover pasture, green manures (legumes whose deep roots fix nitrogen), compost, raising animals and crops on the same farm, and rock powders to replenish minerals, and encouraging biodiversity.

So why is organic farming not the conventional way today?  Coleman offers a few insights:
-- The lack of a word for understanding plant health. Plant pathology is much studied, but understanding plant health would involve very different expectations and framing of the questions;
-- The tendency for humans to want to be in charge of nature.  Coleman, on the other hand, believes we have a lomg way to go in understanding the complexity of the natural world.  He views himself working "in partnership with nature. I'm a very junior partner. Given the limited amount of hard knowledge available, I often refer to my management style as 'competent ignorance'"
-- The money to be made in an industrial system.  The ability of organic farmers to source many inputs from their own farms is "downright subversive" of industrial agriculture.  Coleman quotes a 1912 statement from Cyril Hopkins, director at the time of of the Illinois State Experiment Station: "'The real question is, shall the farmer pay ten times as much as he ought to pay for food to enrich his soil? Shall he buy nitrogen at 45 to 50 cents a pound when the air above every acre contains 70 million pounds of free nitrogen?'"

For Coleman the health and productivity of his own farm in Maine are proof of concept: organic farming works. "Could it be that we the people have been conned into ignoring a whole other way of farming by a limited worldview that has never allowed us to consider non-commodifiable options?"  That is the question.

Detroit school with garden program threatened with closure

Grist, the online environmental news and analysis site, is a great resource on food-related issues. In another recent Grist article , Tom Philpott protrayed the protest mounted by a group of Detroit high school students around the threatened closing or charter school conversion of their school - a school at which edible gardening and good nutrition are keycomponents of the school day. Catherine Ferguson Academy is a high school program for young mothers and their children. According to Philpott, "By all accounts, it has been successful at achieving [its] goals. Its graduation rate is 90 percent -- well above the citywide average -- and more than half of graduates go on to two- or four-year colleges. And yes, gardening is a major part of the curriculum. The school's grounds include 'goats, chickens, vegetable gardens, a horse, beehives, and more, where the 'city girls' have taken to the farm like they've always lived there.'"

Faced with a proposal to close the school or convert it to a charter school, the young women staged a sit-in from which they were forcibly removed.  The Detroit school system turned the Ferguson cafeteria over to commercial management and has forbidden the use of the school kitchen to prepare food grown at the school's own garden. The Grist article has links to more information and to two organizations with petitions to sign in support of the students.

The Greenhorns Boston Premiere & Foraging Bike Ride May 14 Somrville

The Greenhorns, a film about young farmers will have its Boston area premiere on Saturday May 14 at parts + crafts, 155 Powderhouse Blvd in Somerville. During the afternoon there will be a bicycle ride to forage for elderflowers. Bike ride 1-6 pm.  Screening & Party 6-9 pm. For more information about the film and The Greenhorns organization to recruit, promote ansd support young farmers in America .

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bountiful Brookline's gardens are growing

Join us for the next garden workday
Sunday, May 1 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

We'll meet and work for a while at the GreenSide Out Garden (40 Webster Place at Brookline Community Foundation), and then we'll move on to the Goodwin Garden (on Goodwin Place), a BB garden share with Margo Lockwood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Environmental documentary showing at the Coolidge

Urban Roots, a documentary celebrating the story of a Detroit community's vision for locally-grown, sustainable food, is showing at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring into Gardening Was an Amazing Day!

"It was amazing today at the 2nd Annual Spring into Gardening.........So many volunteers giving their time selflessly, food generously donated; folks raving over it,  folks paying to attend great workshops, community folks engaging in meaningful conversation/sharing stories, vendors sharing their wares and information in a great community setting

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Register for Spring into Gardening

Registration is Open for Second Annual
Spring into Gardening
10 am - 4 pm
Pierce Middle School
50 School Street, Brookline, MA

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A worm by any other name would still be good for your garden.

Intensive Vermiculture Workshop
10:00 am - noon
Spring into Gardening 2011
Sunday March 27- Pierce School - 50 School Street Brookline

Sadie Richards, a member of the Urban Homesteader's League and the North Shore Permaculture Group, will present this 2-hour hands-on Intensive Vermiculture* Workshop where you can::
  • make a worm bin to take home;
  • settle some worms in their bedding;
  • learn how to keep the worms well fed with household waste; and
  • learn how to use the compost they produce to nourish your garden
Sadie is very eager to share her knowledge of vermiculture.  She told us that:
“Worms are wonderful composters which can easily be kept by anyone who wishes to reduce his or her contribution to the waste stream while simultaneously producing nutrient-rich plant fertilizer conveniently in one's home. Worm bins allow you to compost your paper and food waste year-round, and they provide an excellent learning opportunity for children and adults alike. In this hands-on workshop Sadie will cover the basics of worm-rearing, and provide you with the knowledge as well as the tools to become a master vermiculturist. Topics covered will include basic worm biology, bin setup, worm feeding, maintenance, troubleshooting and worm compost harvesting. You will leave the workshop with informational handouts and a worm bin that you have made out of a recycled plastic bin, complete with bedding and a worm colony that is ready to begin transforming your kitchen scraps into compost."

$25 workshop registration fee plus $13 for materials applies to this workshop in addition to general admission.  Materials fee is payable to the workshop leader at the workshop.

* Vermiculture - ”the cultivation of annelid worms (as earthworms or bloodworms) especially for use as bait or in composting “ Merriam Webster online

Thursday, February 10, 2011

get ready to grow - get ready to go to Spring into Gardening 2011

Spring into Gardening 2011
Sunday March 27, 2011 - Pierce School - 50 School Street

Pre-Register online February 21 - March 25

Check back here at for updates about how to register and for a look at the exciting, informative workshops, demonstrations, exhibits and kid’s activities planned for this all day celebration of edible gardening in Brookline.

Introducing the Keynote Speaker, Greg Watson

“You are no doubt aware that anyone who has been involved with urban agriculture in any way is hooked for life!”  So said Greg Watson, in an email accepting our invitation to be the keynote speaker for Spring into Gardening. Watson is Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Technology in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, on loan from MassTech where he was the first Director of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust.

But Greg Watson’s roots in local and sustainable food production go deep, extending back to involvement in the 1970s with Boston Urban Gardeners (BUG) and working with the New Alchemy Institute which developed ecologically self sustaining food systems. In an interview with an alumni group at his alma mater Tufts, Watson described BUG as an on the ground resolution to the conundrum he felt as an African American coming into adulthood during the 1960s era of civil rights activism but who also was very concerned with environmental issues. He found that, ”BUG organized inner city residents for the purpose of gaining access to land and tools so they could meet some portion of their own food needs with their own hands.  In the process I came to understand that environmental issues were very much an urban concern.”

As Massachusetts Commissioner of Food and Agriculture in the Dukakis administration, Watson encouraged the development of local food chains and rural-urban connections, bringing farmers’ markets into urban neighborhoods.  In the mid-1990s he directed the Dudley street Neighborhood Initiative, the Roxbury-based community economic development project that is renowned for innovation in land use policy and success in community building. Now, as Vice Chair of Bioneers, an organization dedicated to meeting human needs with processes derived from the ecological principles found in nature, Watson continues to engage with the cutting edge where social justice and environmentally sound practice merge.

Greg Watson combines visionary thinking with practical accomplishment. With a systems approach inspired by Buckminster Fuller, he has a profound appreciation of the connections and synergies between healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy Earth. We are thrilled that he will be speaking at Spring into Gardening and hope you will join us..

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture - connecting farms to your table in Brookline

The CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) movement in the U.S. began with two farms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1985. It has since spread throughout the country and assumed many different forms, but the basic premise of building connections between farmers and consumers remains central. Farmers essentially sell 'shares' of their farm in order to generate much-needed income before the start of the growing season and ensure a market for some (or all) of their crops. The consumers shoulder part of the risks inherent in farming (illness, crop failure, etc.) in exchange for a weekly box of fresh produce during the growing season.
Bountiful Brookline is working to create and strengthen an enduring local food system in Brookline and the surrounding area. In order to expand access to fresh food that is healthy for our citizens, our communities, and our environment, we encourage and facilitate participation in urban community agriculture. One of the many benefits of a functioning local food system is its resilience, for it draws on a wide variety of decentralized sources in order to feed people.
At this point urbanites cannot feed themselves, but there are many different ways for residents of Brookline to sink their teeth into fresh local/regional food. In addition to the popular farmer's markets and farm stands, the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model has become an important part of emerging local food systems in Massachusetts. CSA is a great way for you and your family to forge new connections with your food while directly supporting the small farm that produced it. Of course, you get to enjoy delicious fresh produce too!

Stillman's farm, located in Lunenburg, Ma, offers a summer fruit and veggie CSA, a more limited winter CSA, and a monthly meat CSA. Stillman's has several pick-up locations around Boston, including a convenient spot at the Brookline Public Health Department Parking lot (11 Pierce St.) on Sundays. You can find out more, including online CSA registration information, at their website .

And in our own backyard Allandale Farm offers a host of CSA options, including produce, eggs, and flower shares.

If you are interested in learning more about CSA, or if you know you want to reserve a share for yourself, then head over to theMOVE's 2011 Farm Share Fair where you can meet representatives from over a dozen CSA farms and find out which farm is best for you. This free event is on Thursday 2/3 from 5:30-8pm at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square.

The same night there is a panel discussion titled being held in JP. The purpose of this forum is to evaluate the current state of food security and food justice in the Northeast region and identify ways to strengthen the local food system. The event is from 7-9pm at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, located at 6 Eliot Street, Boston, Ma. Put on by the JP Forum, this free event features Edith Murnane, the city's recently appointed director of food policy, as moderator. Please see the above link for more information about what should be an interesting and informative evening.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The politics in your food

What we eat today in Brookline is directly related to food production across Massachusetts and the country as well as decisions being made in Washington DC. The real politics of food are increasingly  evident through the significant actions and debates about what we eat, how its grown, who produces it and ultimately will it help or harm us!!!
In Congress as well as in the Massachusetts Legislature there have been gains made and challenges to still address around these issues. The recently passed Bill 4568 to establish a Massachusetts Food Policy Council provides an opportunity for Massachusetts to address food production and access issues in a comprehensive way.

Over the past months although there have been several major successes in our country for food security there has also been strong resistance.

Just this past week USDA, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack approved Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa for widespread planting this spring. It will potentially have serious consequences for organic farmers and represents a real setback in the movement to improve our food now and for future generations. At this point President Obama must be called upon to stop this action.