From Factories to Fresh Food: Planning for Urban Agriculture in Somerville

Somerville, Massachusetts was historically an area with farms, backyard gardens, livestock, and food processing facilities. The emergence of industry, however, changed the dynamic of the city and now Somerville is densely populated, has much less industry than at its historic high, and little space for agriculture. However, in recent years Somerville’s local food movement has enjoyed a surge in popularity. Our report suggests ways that the city of Somerville and its non-profit allies – including our client Groundwork Somerville – can increase the amount of food grown in the city and methods for establishing a local distribution scheme to benefit both gardeners and Somerville residents. Our primary recommendations are to increase the available public space for gardening, begin a city-wide yard waste and food scrap 3collection program for composting, establish a gardeners’ network to support backyard and market gardeners, promote innovative growing techniques for small spaces, and establish a shared-use community kitchen. While we don’t expect that Somerville will ever meet its own fresh food needs with Somerville-grown produce alone, we nonetheless suggest long-term objectives such as establishing a model for a backyard garden-to-consumer marketing program that could economically support backyard gardeners in addition to promoting the eating of more locally-produced vegetables and fruit, and we also suggest the development of edible or green corridors that would reconnect Somerville’s scattered open spaces and re-establish its agricultural heritage.

Downloadable Documents: 
Carl Bickerdike. Christina DiLisio. Julia Haskin. Molly McCullagh and Mari Pierce-Quinonez
Somerville, MA: Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
Page Numbers: 
Publication Date: 
May 1, 2010
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies