By Seth Daniel
The Everett Community Farm is just weeks away from becoming a reality at the head of the Northern Strand Trail on West Street. This week, tons of debris has been removed from the area and the City is preparing to till and compost the space with the Everett Community Growers (ECG).
“We had the soil tested and surprisingly it was ok,” said Emily Nink, development coordinator of ECG. “It was high in phosphorous so they said we wouldn’t have to ever fertilize it.”
Added Kathleen O’Brien of ECG, “We were surprised because its been National Grid and it was a railroad. We were pleased with that.”
That said, new soil will be brought in along with compost and the first season of the Community Farm is nearly upon the City.
The Farm comes via a Nature’s Path Granola Bar grant that ECG won last year – being one of two winners where some 168 communities competed for the grant. The grant program is called ‘Gardens 4 Good,’ and will focus on growing vegetables to be provided to local food pantries.
Bread of Life in Malden will receive most of the Farm’s produce this year, and it will be distributed to food pantries in Everett and Malden.
“We’ll have volunteers working the garden all summer and then we’ll have kids biking the produce from the Farm to the Bread of Life headquarters in Malden right up the bike trail,” said O’Brien. “The food will end up going to pantries in Everett.”
Nink said they surveyed those at the local food pantries to see what they would like to have, and the results turned up carrots, tomatoes, Asian greens, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers and squash.
While the focus this year is to provide food to local pantries, Nink and O’Brien said they hope to expand that role in the coming years.
“The whole point this year is to donate to the Food Pantry, but we’re hoping in the future to make it into a mobile market and utilize the Everett Farmer’s Market. We want it to be a social enterprise and have a self-sustaining Farm with a dedicated revenue source.”
That is part of a bigger vision that includes the two existing Community Gardens on Florence Street and Tremont Street, both of which opened last Saturday.
“There is a lot of demand now for garden plots and we have a waiting list still,” said Nink. “We’ve been able to get a lot of people off our waiting list, but there are still people who are waiting. We’re encouraging people to volunteer at the Farm this year if they didn’t get a garden plot. They will be able to take some of the produce home with them.”
And for the future, both O’Brien and Nink said they’re happy to maintain what they have for now.
“We can’t do as much as we want because we don’t have the funding right now,” said Nink.
Added O’Brien, “We need a full-time person to coordinate the gardens and that would help us grow. We would like to provide jobs for people to help produce food in Everett. We could be a source of good jobs for the community.”