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Site Use

Can my group or I rent out the Growing Center for personal use (weddings, birthday parties, etc.)?

The Growing Center (GC) is a city-owned space cared for by the volunteers, staff, and the non-profit Friends of the Community Growing Center. The Friends manage the site under a license agreement with the City of Somerville, under which the space is not rented out or booked for personal use. We encourage interested people to get in touch with the to reserve one of Somerville's many City-managed facilities and parks for a private event.

 

My organization/non-profit/community group would like to request use of the space. How do I do that?

 

There is a Group Use Request Form in the works (spring 2024)! Once you fill it out, one of our part-time staff or Board members will get back to you within two weeks. If you are approved to utilize the space, someone from your organization will need to separately schedule a Volunteer Orientation with our Site Coordinator, Operations Manager or a Friends Board member.

 

Please note, the Friends group works to balance multiple needs and requests, with the goal to both optimize utilization of the space for the benefit of the City’s residents and to preserve the space for the enjoyment of the broader community. Please note, many groups use the Growing Center site each week, and our part-time staff are not onsite regularly to clean the space after use by each group. All users must commit to follow the guidelines of our Group User Agreement Form to help us ensure the space is ready for the next group to use.  

 

Additionally, it is greatly appreciated if organizations and groups with the means who use the space regularly donate $200 in funds or in-kind per year. This helps to cover costs of staff time, materials, site care, maintenance and ongoing communication. For more information about agreements that we have with our current partner organizations, take a look at this Group User Agreement Form that we ask all partners to fill out.

I am an area educator/teacher/homeschooling caregiver: How do I arrange a field trip to the Growing Center?

 

You can reach out to us, and one of our part-time staff members will get back to you within two weeks. There is a Field Trip Request Form in the works (spring 2024)! Please note, however, that we are not a fully staffed organization. Our staff will need to work with our volunteers to ensure that someone is there to receive your school group.

Can my group offer a Service Day at the Growing Center?

Our ability to respond to a request like this is dependent on the season and available staffing. There is a Group Use Request Form in the works (spring 2024). 

Frequently Asked Questions about the
Somerville Community Growing Center

The Friends of the Community Growing Center is the nonprofit entity that manages all aspects of programming, maintenance and volunteer work at the Somerville Community Growing Center. We are almost entirely volunteer-led, with two part-time staff members. As such, we receive a lot of inquiries and often struggle to keep up with answering them while trying to run all the free programming that we offer. This page is meant to answer any questions you may have about the Growing Center, public and private use of the space, and more.

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General Questions

Why do I sometimes see groups of people (often children) in the garden during the day, but the gate is closed and we can't go in? 

We are closed to the public during educational programming visits for the safety of the participating children.

Can I drop off my compost at the Growing Center?

Only trained volunteers can drop off compost.  Please  do  not  leave  bags  of  food  scraps outside or inside the gate. They attract rats!

Want to learn more about turning food waste into healthy soil? 

Join the Growing Center's Compost Team. You'll get training on how to support and manage a community compost system while making use of your own household food scraps. Contact volunteer@thegrowingcenter.org for more details.

Can I harvest herbs or vegetables while visiting?

Please respect the Growing Center's Gardening Team volunteer efforts and refrain from picking the produce that is growing in the raised beds, UNLESS there is a posted sign encouraging visitors to do so. Sometimes during the height of harvest season, we will post signage saying that folks are welcome to pick. We will also sometimes leave out excess produce for anyone to take, and often post a photo of what's available on Facebook. If you're interested in joining our Garden/Site Team, your best bet would be to take a Volunteer Orientation and join the team!

Why is the lawn sometimes cordoned off when I visit?

Please note that the lawn may be closed off partially or entirely during the spring or fall as part of its care and protection. It gets a lot of use between April and November. Please plan accordingly and respect and keep off any roped off areas.

Volunteering

Can I help with gardening or weeding tasks?

We love new volunteers! For more info on joining our Garden Team, you will first want to take a Volunteer Orientation. (See "How do I volunteer" below.) If you like to get your hands dirty while you are visiting, there are often gardening tasks that you can do to help out. These tasks will be listed on the whiteboard on the barn or in a shared garden team document. If you have any questions about whether something is a weed or not, please refrain from picking, and instead check with Paula (paula@thegrowingcenter.org) or a member of the Site Committee. For both ecological and educational purposes, we encourage some “weeds” like milkweed, mullein, and Queen Anne’s lace to grow. We also leave most seed stalks in the fall for bird food through the winter, and we refrain from raking leaves in order to provide food and shelter for wintering insects. Refer to the white board to the left of the barn doors for current garden tasks. Email volunteer@thegrowingcenter.org if you have further questions.

How do I volunteer at the Growing Center?

The first step would be to sign up for the next Volunteer Orientation

Volunteer Orientations in 2024 take place the Second Saturday (9:30-11:00) and Fourth Monday (6:00-7:30) of each month. You do not need to sign up ahead of time - you can just show up!

 

If you've volunteered at the Growing Center before, but it’s been a few years since you last took an orientation, we encourage you to take one again, as things have changed a lot since our renovation in 2019.

You can email volunteer@thegrowingcenter.org if you have further questions, or visit our Get Involved page for more information on Volunteer Orientations and other volunteer opportunities!

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