Somerville Reads is a project that promotes literacy and community by encouraging people all over the City to read and discuss books on the same theme. For our third annual program, the subject is food—local, sustainable, delicious!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Discuss Urban Farming and Farm City with Jessie Banhazl

We're getting excited for the first book discussion of this year's Somerville Reads! It will be held at the Central Library this coming Thursday (April 5th) at 7:00 p.m. and will be led by Jessie Banhazl (pictured), co-founder, managing director, and owner of Green City Growers, a Somerville company that installs and maintains organic vegetable gardens for homeowners, businesses, restaurants, and schools. By the way, if you haven't read Farm City yet, come anyway! In addition to discussing the book, we'll be discussing urban farming in general and it's sure to be an interesting and lively evening. Below is a list of a few more resources on this topic, all of which are available through the Minuteman Library Network - happy reading!


Another Turn of the Crank: Essays by Wendell Berry

Bringing It to the Table: on Farming and Food by Wendell Berry

The Dirty Life: a Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

Folks, This Ain't Normal: a Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World by Joel Salatin

Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution by Jennifer Cockrall-King

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich

My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned his Big City Backyard into a Farm by Manny Howard

On Good Land: the Autobiography of an Urban Farm by Michael Ableman

Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays by Wendell Berry

Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century by Dr. Dickson Despommier

Your Farm in the City: an Urban Dweller's Guide to Growing Food and Raising Livestock by Lisa Taylor and the gardeners of Seattle Tilth


A Hole in a Fence

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

Friday, March 30, 2012

Food-Themed Art by Somerville Students

The K-6 students and the art teachers of the Somerville Public Schools have produced a beautiful array of food-themed art that is now on exhibit in the auditorium of the Central Library. It will be here through the end of April, so please stop in and have a look at their wonderful work. There will be a reception on Tuesday, April 10th at 3:00 p.m., and the public is invited to meet the artists, their parents/guardians, and their art teachers. We hope you'll be able to come, but in the meantime, here's a preview of this special, and delicious-looking exhbit! Click on each picture to see a bigger image.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Got Farm?

Reading Farm City may have sparked an interest in becoming an urban farmer yourself, but unlike Novella Carpenter, you probably don't have a vacant lot down the street that seemingly never gets developed. However, even those with the least space have some options. Lifehacker and Apartment Therapy have some tips on growing vegetables in window boxes. Recently I ordered a new book for SPL's collection: Fruit Trees in Small Spaces, a guide to growing fruit trees in containers (or a backyard, if you have one). Currently on the shelf we have titles such as The Edible Container Garden: Growing Fresh Food in Small Spaces, Container Gardening for Dummies, and Plant Parenthood for Urban Gardeners.

If would rather have a traditional garden plot and you don't have a backyard, get in touch with Jim Boyd of Somerville Community Gardens. He'll be happy to talk to you about how to get on a waiting list for any of the SCG plots which are located throughout the city. Unfortunately, waiting lists for the community gardens can be long, but the good news is that the City keeps adding more gardens in an effort to meet the demand. You can reach Jim at or at 617 -201-1680.

N.B.: On April 22 at 1 p.m. Boyd and Head Children's Librarian Cathy Piantigini will lead a discussion of the award-winning children's book SeedFolks, a novel about an urban garden that makes a community out of a group of strangers.

If your gardening ambitions go beyond mere plants, check with City Hall. One of the few explicit mentions of farm animals in City Ordinances is part a of Section 3-4, which states, "No person shall allow any domestic fowl, swine, goat, sheep, ox, cow, horse, or other grazing animal, owned by him or her or in his or her charge or control, to go at-large or to graze in or upon any of the streets, parks, commons, public grounds or lands of the city." That at least implies it's legal to raise livestock in Somerville.

Just keep them out of Foss Park. Or any park for that matter (and yes, that includes the dog park on Summer Street).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scheduling Update

A few changes have been made to the Somerville Reads events calendar. Here's the latest:

March 31st-April 30, with reception on April 10th @ 3 pm—Exhibit of food-themed art by elementary school children from Somerville Public Schools. Central Library

April 4th @ 7 pm—Potluck with a mystery theme. Central Library

April 5th @ 7 pm—Discussion of Farm City led by Jessie Banhazl of Green City Growers. Central Library

April 11th @ 7 pm—Community Storytelling Open Mike Night. Central Library

April 14th @ 2 pm—Stone Soup. Central Library

April 17th @ 7 pm—Discussion of Seed Folks for kids ages 9 to 12 led by Cathy Piantigini, Supervisor of Somerville Public Library's Children's Services. Central Library

April 21st @ 1 pm—Somerville Reads Celebration, including music by the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, a community potluck—bring a dish to share (please list ingredients) , vote for your favorite dish, maybe win a prize!—and the official debut of our new community cookbook. Central Library

April 22nd @ 1 pm—Discussion of Seed Folks led by Jim Boyd, Head Coordinator for Somerville Community Gardens, and Cathy Piantigini. Walnut Street Community Garden.

April 25th @ 7 pm—Discussion of Farm City led by Somerville Public Library librarian Kevin O'Kelly. Sherman CafĂ©, 257 Washington St.