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  • Betsy Larkin

Our Big 3-0 Kickoff!



The Friends of the Community Growing Center is thrilled to announce a brand-new storytelling project, nascent YouTube channel and archival project, plus a 30th Anniversary Kickoff Event on October 14, all part of a larger plan to mark our three decades as a community space. We're also introducing a new 30th logo (above) and related fundraising campaign aimed at raising funds for expanded staffing and other initiatives. All anniversary events and related projects coincide with the Growing Center’s ongoing Strategic Planning process, begun in the summer of 2022 with the intention of increasing the Center’s capabilities over time to grow impact, include diverse voices and broaden participation.



While we are still in the early stages of planning a series of spring 2024 public events to highlight this anniversary milestone, we are holding a 30th Kickoff event on Saturday, October 14, to mark the 30th anniversary of our first "work days" in 1993! All are welcome.


30th Anniversary Kickoff Event

Saturday, October 14, 3:30-5:00 pm

at the Growing Center

Visitors will be able to enjoy a tour (some child-led) and explore children's narratives and mapping of the Center; share a 30th Anniversary memory and/or hope for the space at a video station; explore archival photos and videos; and relax to the music of the Mystic Jazz Trio!


As part of the celebrations, we are embarking on a project to gather stories from across the past three decades. Through 30-second Stories, we invite the public to share memories of the Growing Center and/or ideas or dreams for the future to inform the Strategic Planning process. Do you remember the first time you heard about or visited the Growing Center? What does the Growing Center mean to you? How has it impacted your life? What do you want the Growing Center to be 30 years from now?


The public is invited to visit bit.ly/gc-30 to access the Friends’ Flip page ~ enter the username "somerville" to get in ~ and record a short video message. Visitors can click on any of five different topic questions to record their video, and watch others’ videos.


One main component of the Growing Center’s long-term archives project - which has been underway for a number of years - is the documentation of all media coverage of the Center. This semester, an undergraduate intern from the Urban Ecological Gardening course at Lesley University will be helping to digitize that media coverage to make it accessible to the public online. Additionally, Somerville resident and volunteer Greg Hill is working with the FCGC Board to build a just-launched, brand-new YouTube channel for the Growing Center, which features some of its earliest video footage, including the inaugural episode of SCATV’s (now the Somerville Media Center's) “On Our Streets” showing the Growing Center as a work-in-progress in spring 1994. Visit it at www.youtube.com/@SomervilleCommunityGrowingCent/.


All of these initiatives are being informed by the Strategic Planning process, which has been aimed at looking back at the past 30 years in order to advance and inform our future.


As the Growing Center’s 30th season in operation draws to a close this month, it marks a major milestone for this first-of-its-kind community green space. The public/private partnerships that formed to bring the Growing Center to life back in 1993 resulted in a unique collaboration that became a model for other municipalities across the country.


In fact, he Growing Center has been recognized regionally and nationally, including a 1995 National Garden Association Youth Garden Award, and a community garden award from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. It’s also been featured at a number of local, state, and national conferences - in turn inspiring the growth of other public garden spaces throughout the country.


Not only that, but over the years the Growing Center itself became a catalyst for urban agriculture and educational nature programming across Somerville. The Maple Syrup Boil Down is on example of a project that never would have happened if not for the Growing Center. In fact, the Growing Center's very existence was one of the reasons that Somerville was invited by the National Park Service to apply to be a Groundwork community 23 years ago. Gina Foglia, previously of Foglia Design Associates, Inc., and Lisa Brukilacchio, co-founder of the Growing Center, were the initiators of the process that eventually led to national funding and the creation of Groundwork Somerville.


It is with this history in mind that we engage in thoughtful self-reflection to inform the plan for our next 30 years. Will you join us? To get involved, email 30th@thegrowingcenter.org. Or make a donation to our 30-30-30 Campaign. Learn how at www.thegrowingcenter.org/donate.



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