The most recent project undertaken by the SCGC is the Children in Nature Initiative (CINI) was started in the summer of 2010. This program is designed to increase the opportunities for children to have a direct learning experience in nature, while at the same time beginning to access the rich cultural diversity of Somerville, MA.
The program was funded through the Boston Grants Initiative. The budget for the trial inception was set at $7,642.00. This included the costs for material and key support from an Outdoor Educator/Program Coordinator and an Outreach Coordinator.
As interest in sustainable urban living grows, residents have expressed a strong interest in learning more about urban agriculture. These workshops, scattered throughout the season, cover topics such as composting, container gardening, mushrooms & mycelium, hops & vines, and bee keeping.
Wild Tales Urban Wildlife Program
The Wild Tales Urban Wildlife Program is a three part program for children in which they first learn about urban wildlife, then write a narrative or play based on what they have learned and engaging their creativity and then construct the costumes and set and put on a performance in the Growing Center. The themes focus on understanding wildlife within a local, urban setting and understanding how they may interact and affect each other.
Weekly Children’s Play Groups
Two playgroups are held weekly throughout the summer. The Yardkins Garden Club is held every Monday from March until September. It serves children ages 5 ½ to 7 ½, as well as their caregivers. It combines an opportunity for free play and nature-oriented structured activities. The SCGC maintains a children’s garden which allows the children a hands-on experience in planting, maintaining and harvesting the fruits of the efforts.
The Growing Center playgroup is offered every Friday from March until September and provides an extended period of time for children aged 0 – 5 to have unstructured play in a non-manicured green space.
Every winter, Groundwork Somerville taps local maple trees and collects the sap with partners at the Community Growing Center, the Somerville Public Schools, and Tufts University. Simultaneously, Groundwork Somerville staff and community volunteers teach a four-week arts and science curriculum to second graders at several public schools. The season culminates in a spectacular two-day boil-down event held at the Somerville Community Growing Center. Metal shop students from Somerville High made the evaporator pan and maintain all the equipment each year. The syrup is given as thank-you gifts to community partners and sold at the Union Square Farmers’ Market and at Sherman Market.