Somerville Local First

The Secret Gardens of Somerville

Jul 30 12:16 pm

by Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

We haven’t been back from Paris that long, but we already miss its vast, manicured parks. We spent hours every week gallavanting through greenspace, cherishing moments of peace in the midst of urban bustle.

Somerville may not boast the same monumentally-proportioned and expensively-maintained parks as Paris, but it offers plenty of oases for the weary urbanite. The only problem is that, unlike in Paris, many of Somerville’s most exciting greenspaces are private. This weekend we were lucky enough to participate in a yearly event that opens up some of Somerville’s hidden greenspace to the public.

Lina Morales of Spring Hill teaches Louis about ground cherries.

Gerardo Ciriello of Winter Hill unveils 4-foot-long Sicilian zucchini.

This year, the Somerville Garden Club recruited several dozen urban farmers to show off the fruits and vegetables of their labor during the “Incredible Edible Gardens of Somerville” tour. It was self-guided - our $10 ticket came with a tour booklet that includes descriptions of each garden and a map for convenience. In around five hours of touring, we managed to hit 12 of 31 possible destinations, which gives you a sense for how much time we spent talking with gardeners and oohing and aahing over produce.

Jeffrey Harrington's cabbage and chard

Linda's colorful peppers

Robin and David Ray's grape arbor

We learned about an exciting endeavor called Groundwork Somerville/, the local branch of a network of non-profits that builds community by growing gardens (among other things). We visited two Somerville schools, where we spoke with high school and college students maintaining gardens over the summer. The produce from the gardens is available for purchase every other Saturday at the Union Square Farmers Market (we bought a tasty summer squash from them just last week).

Winter Hill Community School Garden

Argenziano School Garden

Though exhausted by the end of our 5-hour romp in 90-degree heat, we were also touched and inspired by the generosity of the gardeners who opened their yards and shared their knowledge. We ended the day with renewed motivation to join this incredible community of Somerville gardeners (through the Somerville Garden Club) and support the work of local organizations like Groundwork Somerville. And who knows? Maybe with a little help from our new, green-thumbed friends - plus a few shopping sprees at Ricky’s Flower Market - we’ll have our very own urban oasis to share during next year’s tour.

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