Everett Community Growers Meet to Envision a Sculptural Garden along Northern Strand Community Trail

Written by Mallory Nezam and in collaboration with Everett Community Growers, Carolyn Lewenberg and Kit Un

Saturday, December 9th – Drawing families and participants of all ages, more than a dozen community members gathered at the Palin Library Meeting Room in Everett to discuss a proposed public art and urban agriculture project, with a working title of “Everett Earthworks.” The upcoming sculptural garden along the Northern Strand Community Trail would serve as artwork, recreational green space, and space for food production. The event, hosted by MAPC’s Arts & Culture Team and Everett Community Growers, with support from the City of Everett, explored the opportunities, hopes and vision shared among residents for this project.

Inspired by water, the site design will feature a vertical element with portraits of community members and their food story, placed in the center of an area with circular garden beds and paths. The elements of this sculpture is reminiscent of a water droplet hitting the surface of water to create a rhetorical message about what the rippling effects of sharing and growing food can have on the community.

In planning for the methods used to maintain and plant in this area, a method called “Hugelkutur” will be used. Hugelkutur is a raised garden bed that takes tree debris to create a self-fertilizing system with little to no maintenance. The raised beds will create the “ripples” of the sculpture and will be made from burying Christmas trees and branches. Ideas of using hugel mounds with crops that traditionally require more plot like pumpkins, squashes, corn, herbs, and berries for the ripples was also discussed.

The meeting

Held in both Spanish and English and lead by MAPC’s Artist in Residence, Carolyn Lewenberg, participants were asked to share thoughts and feedback about the design, current use and accessibility of the Northern Community Trail; and the challenges and benefits on topics like soil quality, watering plans, storage, meal prep, and the usage of space. Community members were also asked key questions like “What kinds of activities do you think would bring people together in this space?” This was a great lead way into discussing more important topics like equity, resilience, community ownership, and creating opportunities for families to be engaged.

Taking the feedback from the meeting into consideration, organizers plan to present a revised design in January. In addition, organizers want to host events that will raise money for the project in March and April and to organize another meeting in October 2018 to talk about the project’s past and present.

The Everett Community

Everett is a community with diverse populations and a growing interest in community gardening. The Everett Community Growers is a local membership organization that works to improve health outcomes and to increase civic and community engagement through urban agriculture and other food justice initiatives. The organization currently run two community gardens in Everett (the Florence Street Community Garden and the Tremont Street Community Garden) and the Northern Strand Community Farm. All produce grown are donated to the Bread of Life food pantry that serves Malden and Everett.

This project is made possible with a technical assistance grant from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and with in-kind support from the City of Everett and Everett Community Growers. The Everett Earthworks project is intended to advance the City of Everett’s 2017 Open Space and Recreation Plan update, as well as a Community Food Assessment currently underway through Everett Community Growers, the City of Everett, and MAPC. Key partners in the Earthworks project also include the UMass Boston (UMB) School for the Environment and the Trotter Institute.