Somerville Local First


The Local is for Lovers Market is almost here!

Nov 28 1:48 pm

The buzz is really growing about the first SLF/Arts at the Armory Local is for Lovers Holiday Market!

A lot of you have been asking questions about the details of the day, and here they are!

The market will take place at Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Avenue, from 11am-5pm on December 2. Admission is free!

Get Mobile Website Tips (& more!)

SLF has lined up small business expert Randy Parker to answer any of your mobile & web questions.

Randy will be providing clarity, advice, tips, and resources all day thanks to SLF’s partnership with PagePart, a local biz offering mobile & social web solutions.

SLF and Arts at the Armory teamed up this year to emphasize the importance of shifting your shopping to local vendors this holiday season. Keeping your holiday spending in the community has the potential to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the local economy. We are so pleased to have been joined by an AMAZING list of vendors (below), selling gifts sure to please even the hardest to impress on your list this year.

That said, this market is more than just a shopping experience! While we will be featuring local vendors and artisans we have activities for the whole family. Three local youth bands – Burning HoneyThe Soulful Souls, and Stainless –  will play throughout the day, and we will have not one but TWO sets from local childrens’ musician JEFF JAM!

Don’t have those holiday card snapshots done yet? Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered! We will have a winter-themed photo booth set up by photographer Jeremy Heflin and you can buy your prints on the spot!

We also have some areas just for the kids: Knucklebones will be on-site so your little ones can play, and Herbstalk will be hosting a craft area! (Ed note: I heard some paper dandelions will be made. Can’t wait!)

Our amazing vendor line-up (+ possibly more!):

  • Herbstalk
  • Flowerfolk
  • Union Press
  • Caroline Barney Designs
  • Canis Major
  • Albertine Press
  • Cuisine en Locale
  • City Chicks
  • Daddy Jones
  • The Somerville Stock Exchange
  • Picture Renewal
  • Next Step Living
  • Message Therapy by Elizabeth Lynn
  • McBeth Designs
  • Louise Musto-Choate
  • Carland Cartography
  • DuVine Adventures
  • Feathers And Fur
  • Blue Helix Designs
  • Pink Pigeons Creations
  • type-o by ceo
  • I am Joolienn
  • Qs Nuts
  • Will Alderfer Metalwork
  • Star Shine Creations
  • Spindler Confections
  • Love on the Blocks
  • Jai Devi
  • Ghostfingers
  • Anna L. Amur Jewelery
  • Culinary Cruisers
  • Trinity Imports, LLC
  • Artichoke Arts and Crafts
  • Ansis Purins
  • Mikayla Characters
  • Sete Productions
  • Pimmz Art Studio
  • Alisa Aronson Graphic Design
  • Tara Faeri
  • plane paper
  • Knucklebones
  • Arts at the Armory
  • Foret
  • MJ Paperflight

See you this Sunday!

Next: November Luncheon

Nov 12 12:21 pm

We will get together for our last Luncheon of 2012!

After hearing rave reviews about one of our newest neighbors, Counter Culture will be our host this month.  So many Union Square Businesses regularly attend but this time we want everyone to join us and help make Local Business Owners stronger than ever!

If you know someone who works at a locally owned business in Union Square, please invite them.

Lunch and all other offerings are Free to all attendees and we convene for about 15mins.  After 15mins you can head back to work or if you like, we will have fellow Union Square Business owner, Clara Angelina Diaz of Clara-fying, do a workshop for the group.  All you have to do is come.  Below are the details:

Counter Culture

Location – 374 Somerville Avenue [map]

Date – Monday, November 26

Time – 12noon

Workshop from Clara-fying at 12:20

Any questions please contact


Shift Your Shopping in 2012!

Nov 03 11:27 am

We’re excited to announce the launch of the 2012 Shift Your Shopping Campaign.

We’ll have much more to share about this exciting holiday initiative, but for now you can enjoy this post from Joe Grafton, originally posted at the launch of the North American Shift Your Shopping website in 2011.

If you’re just finding out about the local movement, then this campaign is already succeeding.  Over the past 10+ years, business owners, community organizers, researchers and countless others have come together, setting out to build a new economy.  Shift your Shopping is just the latest manifestation of this work, and another step in collaboration that so defines the people involved in this movement.

Throughout this site, and through this North American campaign, you’ll find a great deal of information, research, data and stories that paint a compelling and convincing picture.  It’s not hard for us to see that the economic system we’re currently pursuing isn’t working for people, but what’s so exciting, and we hope is a key learning for you as a result of this campaign, is that there is an alternative.

Local economies, populated by a diverse and resilient local business community, offer more to our communities and to our own lives.  I’ve always believed that, since our purchasing decisions are in our control,  it’s maybe the most effective way for us to ‘vote’ in our society.  Depending on the estimate, consumer spending represents 60-70% of the economy every year and, while holiday shopping is just a part of that, our purchasing in the holiday season is a major economic driver.

So, this year, I encourage YOU to make a shift.  Instead of fighting crowds at the mall, take a stroll down down Main Street.  Instead of buying from a mega-online retailer, find an independent retail outfit that can offer you the same online ease.  And instead of purchasing all the latest retail products produced far away, consider buying fewer gifts, more thoughtfully, made by local artists or craftspeople…who might also be your neighbor.

In the coming weeks, we'll be rolling out lots of stories, gift ideas and options for you to Shift your Shopping in the 'ville

In the coming weeks, we'll be rolling out lots of stories, gift ideas and options for you to Shift your Shopping in the 'ville

The local economies movement is growing by the day, this is just another step in the process.  Main Street works…it always has.  We’re just remembering something we collectively forgot.  And if you want to help spread the message, we’d love your help.  Here’s a couple things you can do:

  • Share the SYS website via Facebook or Twitter
  • Tag your tweets with #shiftyourshopping
  • Talk to people in your life (Social Networking 0.0?) about buying locally, why you’re doing so this holiday season and why its important
Your community will thank you.

Calling all vendors to the Local is for Lovers Market!

Oct 28 4:52 pm

Calling all local crafters and artisans! Got something to sell for the holiday season? Then we have an event for you!

Introducing the Local is for Lovers holiday market by Somerville Local First & Arts at the Armory!

When & Where:

Sunday, December 2, 2012 from 11am- 5pm – Arts at the Armory


We want to help Somerville shift its shopping this holiday season with a family friendly marketplace at Arts at the Armory. Vendors and participants alike share a common mission — to support the local economy of Somerville with holiday shopping dollars!

There will also be family friendly kids’ activities by Knucklebones and Herbstalk and music from Jeff JamStainless!
Local is for Lovers

How Much:

Local First members (Somerville or Cambridge)


(sign up now for Somerville Local First, starting at just $10 a month)

Please bring your own table and supplies.  We have tables available for $15.


Space is limited so sign up today!
All spaces have been filled.

Union Square Chapter Luncheon: October Details

Oct 19 7:12 am

October’s luncheon will be hosted by Bloc 11.  Come get a treat for Halloween.  With the same format usual, we will meet for 15 mins.  Just enough time to grab a plate, shake a hand, tell others what’s going on with you and your business, and head back to work.  For those who can stay afterwards, we have set up an informational workshop for you with Derek O’Connor from Eastern Bank. 

Food, networking, and info, all in the same time it takes to have a cigarette break (Not encouraging smoking).  As always, we look forward to seeing ALL of our great Union Square Local business owners!

Luncheon Details
Bloc 11
Location: 11 Bow Street,  Somerville, MA 02143
Time/Date: 11:am Weds., Oct. 31

Harvest Fest: It supports SLF. It’s about you

Oct 02 2:30 pm

By Joe Grafton
 You can get your tickets for either session of Harvest Fest 2012 here »

Nearly four years ago, Dan Parsons, former SLF Board President, of downTown Wine & Spirits, and I decided to put together an event.  Both of us valued and knew many of the people in the local beer world, and saw the impact they had on the local and regional economy.  We also knew that, given the funding environment for local business networks like SLF (see: non-existent), we needed to create something that would help raise money to support our work all year long.

In 2009, Harvest Fest was born, and through some growing pains and some amazing moments, it’s grown to be one of the best annual events in Somerville (in my humble opinion, you could say Greater Boston) and to be the major annual fundraiser for SLF.

But that’s not the whole story, not by a long shot.

In my three years of organizing the event as Executive Director, and now supporting the event as a Board Member, it’s been clear to me that what Harvest Fest is really about:  it’s about YOU.

Relationships are built at Harvest Fest

Relationships are built at Harvest Fest

There are plenty (and seemingly more by the day) brew festivals and tasting events.  They offer a great way to get to know local businesses and, certainly for SLF, provide a great way to raise funds.  But, it’s about more than great noshing and raising money, though both are worthy enough to stand on their own.

Harvest Fest, to me, has been an educational and culture shifting event, even if it does so in a silent or passive way.  How many attendees have chosen a local restaurant in Somerville because they experienced the staff and the food at Harvest Fest?  How many people, when perusing the beer isle stopped and considered: Which of these is local in New England?  Based on my experience, a lot.

I have always believed that you can discuss, write, exclaim and promote all you want as an organization trying to change the world, but one of the best ways to change someone’s behavior (the best way?) is to SHOW them what things could be like.

Harvest Fest brings us together

Harvest Fest brings us together

To actually experience what it’s like to be in an environment like Harvest Fest, with all the local entrepreneurs who are building our local and regional economy through hard work and amazing products and services: that is what, in my mind, helps change people’s behavior the most.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be profiling the great participants at Harvest Fest.  And one thing you’ll notice is how much these folks do to make the community and the region a better place.

So, while you consider your bevy of options that weekend, remember what Harvest Fest is about.  It’s more than just a great deal.  It’s more than just a way to dine and drink with some of the best in Somerville and New England.  It’s even more than about supporting SLF and our mission to build local green and fair economies.

It’s about you.  It’s about us.

And we have a great time together.

SO much fun

SO much fun

And together we can, if for only a few hours, envision and experience a world where local rules.

And one day it will.  Partly, because of us and days like this.

Get your tickets here to join the experience this year.


Filed under: Harvest Fest

Harvest Fest: Come for the Food and Beer, Stay for the Banter

Sep 26 9:12 am

By Community Blogger Bob McCarthy

“A donut muffin?!?” That’s what one friend plans on saying to 3 Little Figs, unsure whether he should be concerned that they burrowed into his brain and tapped into his every desire or over-the-moon ecstatic that they created this delicious indulgence, the very thing he craved.

It’s not just the chance to sample local food and beer that makes Harvest Fest special, but the opportunity to meet some of the people who have had a hand in shaping Somerville menus and culture. Whether it’s talking food with your favorite restaurant or discussing beer with the area’s best breweries, Harvest Fest is a day to interact with the chefs, brewers and entrepreneurs that make Somerville, well, Somerville—unique and fun and a little funky. So don’t be shy, go ahead and ask Daddy Jones, the new 80’s inspired cocktail lounge in Magoun Square, if you’ll be able to get a Slow Comfortable Screw, or if they’ve given any thought to having Purple Passion on tap. Be bold, talk offbeat ingredients with Slumbrew. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll gain some insight into what inspired them to use everything from blood orange and jasmine to wildflower honey in their beers.

Buy your tickets now! 

For me, Harvest Fest will be a chance to smooth things over with Pretty Things. Long a fan of their beers, it was only recently that I met Dann and Martha at a tasting. Then subsequently insulted them. While sampling Field Mouse’s Farewell, their Farmhouse Ale, I noted a hint of banana. Dann nearly stroked. Apparently, he is meticulous about controlling the esters that produce this flavor. Hoping a little levity would fix things, I encouraged him to worry less about bananas and focus more on brewing another batch of Meadowlark IPA. Dann did not smile or grin or even blink, as that was all he’d been hearing for months. Undoubtedly, he will be eager to resume our conversation.

Whether it’s connecting, catching up or mending fences, Harvest Fest is truly an interactive experience. What better way to pass a Saturday than enjoying local food and beer while getting to know the very people responsible for it. Wander about, sample a bit of everything, strike up a conversation with restauranteurs and brewers who love what they do and are passionate about doing it. Certainly Blue Hills Brewery will be thrilled to discuss their Antimatter series, and might even reveal what the next offering will be. Maybe ask Old Magoun’s Saloon what they put in their mac and cheese that makes you want to subsist on a diet of it alone. By all means, inform Pescatore that their menu, with its gnocchi and pizza and parm and seafood, never fails to trigger a state of drooling indecision. They won’t mind.

On October 27, come to Harvest Fest ready to eat and drink some of the best local fare. Be prepared for great music, namely the super smart orchestral-indie-folk-rock of The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library. But in between raising a glass and shuffling your feet, take a moment to say hello to all the great breweries and eateries that make this event possible. Chit and chat and chew the fat. And while you have their attention, remember to thank them for helping to make your neighborhood unique, a place unlike every other place; a place that has its own vibe and attitude; a place whose entrepreneurs support local business by working hand-in-hand with other local businesses to put forth a great product that Somerville can call its own.

Buy your tickets to Harvest Fest 2012 now! 

Clear The Calendar! – Harvest Fest 2012

Sep 06 2:56 pm

by SLF Community Blogger Bob McCarthy

The calendar has been cleared, the date booked. No invitations will be accepted, no offers entertained. Already regrets have been sent and excuses made. Come October 27, I will attend no parties and visit no relatives. It matters not if your child is being born or baptized or wed. I will not be there. All apologies. But a full year has passed, finally, and it is again time for Harvest Fest.

Last year it was a bit of happenstance, my being there. I had never heard of Somerville Local First or Harvest Fest, had no idea what or where the Armory was. But I had an open Saturday and a girl I’d been dating a short time. What I needed was to plan something interesting and unique and fun, something that would impress. I had zilch. Until I spotted an ad for Harvest Fest, an ad that heralded three of her favorite themes—Somerville, support for local business, and autumn—as well as my two favorite pastimes: craft beer and food. Perfect.

Frankly, I walked into the Armory with low expectations. Other than the ad, I had done no research, and so had no idea what brewers would be present or how many, what sort of food would be served and from which restaurants. The part of me that believed twenty dollars admission was too good a price imagined thimbles of warm beer served alongside stale nachos and cold pigs in blankets. Immediately, however, any and all thoughts of being disappointed were abandoned, as first I spotted tables manned by Clown Shoes and Rapscallion and Pretty Things then ones for Highland Kitchen, Foundry on Elm, and Five Horses Tavern.

Rather quickly it became apparent that this would be one of those rare afternoons that you wish happened with frequent regularity. Highland Kitchen served pulled pork sliders that disappeared in a heartbeat, washed down with Pretty Things’ Jack D’Or. Performing a similar vanishing act were pork belly tacos from Five Horses Tavern and a Steel Rail EPA from Berkshire Brewing Company. It being autumn and Harvest Fest, a cup of Butternut Squash soup found its way into one hand, while a Mayflower Porter occupied the other. That was the first twenty minutes. Twenty minutes and fifteen feet and I had sampled amazing dishes from three separate restaurants and beer from three craft breweries.

And that’s what proved most impressive about Harvest Fest. Yes, there was beer and food and music and familiar faces. And certainly that’s a good thing on any Saturday. But whether it was being introduced to Clown Shoes’ Clementine White Ale, discovering Blue Hills’ Dunkelweizen, or sampling dishes that ran the gamut from savory to spicy to sweet, Harvest Fest allowed the opportunity to taste a breadth of local food and native beer that would normally take several months and hundreds of dollars to try. For twenty bucks.

And on October 27 Somerville Local First will host it again. But this year I have been dating that girl a full twelve months and need not worry about impressions or decorum. And so I will not casually stroll from table to table, affecting a refined air, pretending I haven’t been let loose on a personal playground. Nope. Greedily I will mix cannoli with pad Thai with barbecue with every imaginable style of beer. Then I will double back and linger about with brewers, twisting their ears about dry hopping and ABV, offering my services as taster extraordinaire. The calendar has been marked, all other plans postponed. October 27 is booked.

Look What’s Happening in Somerville

Sep 05 12:12 pm

by SLF Community Blogger Kathleen Hornby

Here’s an overview of what my Somerville-centric life has been like over the past few weeks. I don’t have enough room to go into detail on everything, and there is always more going on in Somerville than I can keep up with. That being said, if any of you have suggestions as to what I should be checking out, please let me know!

Zoe and her new best friend!

First things first: it was my French Bulldog Zoe’s birthday this month. The pet lovers among you will understand why this leads today’s post, and the rest of you can just bear with me. Zoe’s not picky about toys, treats or food, but I am, so I went birthday present shopping at RiverDog in Union Square. The good folks there make it easy for me to find just what I need to spoil my pup while keeping her healthy. I gave her a stuffed frog that has lasted longer than any plush toy previously subjected to her bulldog jaws; she usually tears them apart in a matter of minutes. Count us both as happy customers.

Okay, enough pet stuff; the rest of the post is strictly for people.

I visited M3 in Davis Square for the first time last week with some friends, and can heartily recommend the cucumber and pickled watermelon salad with goat cheese, the blue crab deviled eggs, the fried chicken, the fried okra, the biscuits, and the macaroni and cheese. Don’t judge – we were all sharing. I should also note that the draft list included Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, one of my personal favorites.

They do serve brunch, which has received very positive reviews, but as a diehard Highland Kitchen fan, I’m reserving judgment until I can go back and evaluate it for myself.

M3 is not an SLF member, but I’m sure that will change shortly – right, (chef-owner) Jason Owens?


FoMu sample at Taza

My most recent adventure in exploring locally produced culinary delights was at Taza Chocolate, which hosted Allston-based “alternative ice cream” purveyor FoMu on Saturday, August 18th. I couldn’t resist the siren call of free vegan ice cream, despite the fact that my vegan years are behind me. Dairy-free options are still important, and it’s even better if they’re delicious enough to silence the skeptics.


Taza and FoMu did not disappoint. My cone, filled with a tiny scoop each of Bananas Foster and Limited Edition Mexican Taza Brownie, was generously topped with a mixture of cacao nibs, roasted cashews, and chocolate-covered hazelnut pieces.


Pints of FoMu were on sale at the time, as well as 8-oz cans of Taza’s ice cream topping mixture, but they were going fast. Lesson of the day: always make the trip to Taza for tastings and other events. Not only is there free food (and, occasionally, free booze), but you can also stock up on factory store specials.


Like I said, that’s the overview. I left out the Drink Craft Beer Summerfest in July at the Center for Arts at the Armory, the two movies I’ve seen recently at The Somerville Theatre, the brunch I had this weekend at Highland Kitchen, and countless other fabulous SLF moments. I’m planning to keep the updates coming, though, so stay tuned.

Off to the Market!

Aug 01 1:30 pm

by Kristen Leonard

Drumlin Farm Flowers – photo by Kristen Leonard


With the first half of summer behind us and Labor Day looming on the horizon, it’s hard to resist the urge to stay outside and soak up as much of that summer sun as possible. Luckily, Somerville is home to a variety of outdoor markets that allow you to support local vendors and mingle with your neighbors while enjoying the fleeting heat of summer.

Grocery shopping can be a chore, but Farmers Markets can make it a truly enjoyable experience. With the vibrant array of colors and enticing smell of fresh-picked herbs, a visit to the market is a feast for the senses. The Saturday morning market in Union Square has quickly become my favorite way to kick-off the weekend. Where else can I pick up my produce for the week, grab some locally-made chocolate, and enjoy a gourmet ice cream sandwich (peanut butter maple-bourbon!), all while listening to live music.

Yum! Photo cred: Kristen Leonard

More than just places to buy your fruits and veggies, farmers markets have evolved into a one-stop shop to procure all that you need for a great summer meal!  Select some hormone-free meat or locally-caught seafood for your backyard grill. Or indulge your inner vegetarian and pick up tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and homemade bread for a light and delicious Panzanella salad.

Coastal Vineyards’ selection – photo by Kristen Leonard

Maybe you are looking for something to fill your picnic basket for an evening with friends? The new specialty market Swirl and Slice has everything that you need. The market, which kicked off in June, takes place every Thursday evening from 5:00-8:00 in Union Square. Vendors sell everything from wine and cheese to nuts and pastries. It’s a great place to stock up for a summer weekend away or to just get your Thursday night started right! My recent purchases included lime pepper jelly from Stir It Up Cuisine, Mexican cheese spread from Nobscot Artisan Cheese, and wasabi nut mix from Fastachi . After you’ve had your fill, check out the Tasting Table, a weekly educational program run by restaurateurs and other food experts on season-appropriate topics such as wine tasting and grilling.

Davis Flea – photo by Kristen Leonard

Perhaps food is not your thing? The new Davis Flea brings out the inner-collector in all of us with a variety of antique, vintage, and unique collectables in an open air market. Visitors can peruse everything from vintage t-shirts to bikes, records, and antique collectables for the home. The flea market, located in the parking lot at the corner of Holland Avenue and Buena Vista Street in Davis, runs on Sundays from 10:00-4:00. Check it out before or after your next Sunday brunch outing!


Veggies Galore! Photo: Kristen Leonard

Somerville Farmers Markets:


Davis Square (Day and Hebert Streets), Wednesdays from 12:00-6:00 through 11/21

Mystic (Mystic Housing Development), Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:00-4:00 through 11/24

Union Square (Union Square Plaza), Saturdays from 9:00-1:00 though 11/17

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