What we are up to

Sign up to be a Fridge Parent for the Coast Community Fridge!

Sign up to be a fridge parent for the Coast Community Fridge @ 5 Callendar St., Cambridge, MA 02139.

Being a fridge parent means committing to bringing a staple or needed item to the fridge weekly. It can be as small or large as you are able and willing to make it!

We are piloting this so that we can ensure that fridge visitors can rely on a slightly more consistent fridge stock each week. We don’t want to regulate the fridge in any way but just want to make sure that folks who are looking to grab from the fridge can rely on the fridge to have what they might need or want.

Some suggestions:

  • Eggs (can be grocery-bought, your own chickens, your friend’s chickens, as long as the carton is labeled with expiration date)
  • Dairy and non-dairy milks
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Homemade meals (must be labeled with ingredients and expiration date)
  • Fruits (apples aren’t the only fruit!)
  • Berries, tropical fruits, Asian fruits
  • A specific spice
  • Herbs/onion-familymembers (scallions, leeks, chives, etc.)
  • Salt
  • Cooking oils
  • Baking leavenings
  • Period products

Donate to our GoFundMe!

In the next two months we will begin building raised beds at our new garden plots around the city. Raised beds are necessary as Cambridge soil is notoriously contaminated with lead; raised beds prevent our crops from being contaminated as well.

In the long-term, we are really concentrating on building the narrative of food sovereignty through urban agriculture. We are doing this through skill share sessions (teach-ins on woodworking, compost and composting, gardening 101, food justice, etc.), social hours, and postcard campaigns to neighbors.

We also need funds to continue running our community fridge at the Cambridge Community Center.

Click here to visit our GoFundMe.

Coast Community Fridge Celebrates Two Month Birthday!

The Coast Community fridge has now officially been up for two months! In that time, it has seen new doors, murals, snowstorms, and lots of food coming and going. We have so many people to thank for making this evolving resource possible. First, a huge thank you to the folks at the Cambridge Community Center who have been essential partners in this process. They are also to thank for coordinating with Cambridge Arts Center to bring amazing teen artists, Kiersten and Mo’mo,  who painted the mural on the fridge with local graffiti artist Eyevan. Read more here from CCC about the mural process: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLC89sjM5XI/

The fridge and pantry seem to be getting lots of use but are still often full thanks to CCC’s pantry leftovers and community offerings. We love being in connection with the many other Boston area fridges who are ready to stop by and redistribute when there is an abundance of items at 5 Callender St, doing what we can to make food available to our communities and limit as much food waste as possible. We have also been receiving drop offs of premade meals from local restaurants, as well as food and household item donations from local churches, organizations, and even the Red Sox and Patriots Foundations. 

Our neighbor volunteer team has also been growing! We now have people coming to clean and organize the fridge and pantry twice a day. It is important to us that this continues to be a sanitary and safe experience for everyone who comes by. We keep eachother updated through a signal group chat and are always open to more people joining in. Daily updates on what’s inside the fridge can usually be found on our Instagram stories here: https://www.instagram.com/cambridgecitygrowers/?hl=en

We are open to any and all feedback and have left a white board inside the pantry for anyone to add suggestions of what they’d like to see in the fridge. Personal hygiene products have been very popular at the fridge, such as pads, tampons, soap etc. and we hope to be getting more of those to put out soon. We are looking forward to adding our garden harvests into the fridge when the time comes, but for now we will focus on keeping the shed accessible through the many snowstorms. 

Coast Community Fridge is always looking for more sanitary products, household items, and condiments (in addition to produce, staples, and pre-made meals):

  • Period products: pads, tampons, cloth pads, diva cups
  • Hand sanitizer, masks, disinfectants
  • Household cleaning items
  • Toiletries
  • First aid
  • Herbs, spices, sauces, dips

Call for Land 2021

Cambridge City Growers – We are Pandemic Gardeners

Last spring, as the COVID-19 crisis caused food shortages and threatened the health of our communities, some Cambridge residents came together to form the Cambridge City Growers, and begin to grow food for each other and our neighbors. Since we began in early April of 2020, we have made remarkable progress.

We’ve established 9 community garden sites throughout the city: see them here. We are building strong partnerships with other community, agriculture, and justice organizations in Cambridge. We have joined with Goree House, Green Cambridge, Mothers Out Front, Filling in the Gaps Inc, Restaurant Workers Mutual Aid of Eastern Massachusetts, Cambridge Community Center, Crab Apple Gardeners, Margaret Fuller House, and Cambridge Mutual Aid Network, and others, working together to build new gardens and to advance food sovereignty, health, climate, and racial and economic justice. We have connected with over a hundred neighbors who are eager to participate in some way. We have the labor and the public support–but we need the land!

Last summer, willing neighbors opened parts of their lawns, driveways, and other areas, so we could grow food with and for each other. In a few short months, we built 5 new garden sites in various yards, and utilized raised beds and planters–some had lain unused for years–at various community sites.  We also supported many other home gardeners, and educated many tenants and other landless neighbors, giving them access to land to grow. At the end of the summer and into the fall, we were able to share our harvests with neighbors and each other, and to give even more through other food distribution channels, including the Margaret Fuller House and Restaurant Workers Mutual Aid of Eastern Massachusetts.

But this is just the beginning. We can do so much more.

We plan to spend the winter gathering seeds and nurturing seedlings, so that this spring, we have hundreds, or even thousands, of young plants we can use to start new gardens, plant our existing gardens,  and give away to support more gardeners. We are reaching out to businesses and farms to contribute funds, seeds, and other supplies. But one resource is essential and we are asking all our neighbors in Cambridge to consider sharing it this coming year:

We need land. 

We call on homeowners, landlords, religious communities, schools, and business owners all over Cambridge to open your yards and driveways to your neighbors. We can help build new raised beds, gather soil and seeds, and bring in volunteers who live nearby. But we need the space to grow on. If you have no land to share, can you encourage your landlord to let you start a garden with us? Do please consider joining as a volunteer.  Or contribute money, seeds, tools, wood or other resources. No experience needed! We learn together.

We can build dozens of new, communal gardens in the yards of Cambridge next year, and together do our part to help our community weather this pandemic and any other crises that may follow. Let’s build a local economy of sharing in 2021, so that none of our neighbors go hungry, so that we can together re-envision land use and economic justice,  and so that we may be an example for other cities to follow.

Please contact us at: CambridgeCityGrowers@gmail.com

Check out the shorter statement as a 1 page flier below. Pick your favorite and print some out for your neighborhoods or your local bulletin board:

Reflecting on 2020

2020 was a WILD ride! Pushed into action through concerns about a potential global food supply meltdown, a group of us neighbors decide to see if we could get people to share land and resources to grow food together. And we did it!

We’re a very loose group of folks with lives to live and things to do, so CCG is fairly anarchical. Without any hierarchy, formal funding, or organizational structure, we’ve done quite a bit more than we anticipated. And we’re gearing up for more.

Here’s what we’ve done in 2020:

  • We’ve built and operated 10 urban garden sites throughout Cambridge, on neighbors’ yards and at community spaces
  • We’ve held a seedling distribution event, distributing 100 tomato seedlings to neighbors, cilantro, chard, radishes, chives, bean sprouts, and more
  • We’ve held two harvest distribution events, giving away all the produce we grew
  • We’ve distributed more of our harvest at other events hosted by community partners, such as Cambridge Bike Give Back and Community For Us By Us
  • We’ve sent a proposal request to the City of Cambridge for the agricultural use of select under-used, public lands; more work to get this proposal approved coming in 2021
  • We’ve built the Coast Community Fridge in partnership with Cambridge Community Center, a 24/7 mutual aid resource to give what you can and take what you need
  • We’ve made friends! With each other, through our weekly virtual calls, and with community partners

Here are just some of the friends we’ve made along the way:

Here’s what we’re planning in 2021:

  • Grow more food for more people, and more culturally relevant foods
  • Have more neighbors adopt urban gardens on their yards to reduce run-off water and increase land biodiversity
  • Have more community spaces such as churches adopt urban gardens on extra land to increase community engagement and reduce run-off water
  • Grow the number of gardeners in our group and teach more people to grow food
  • Allocate public land from the City of Cambridge for urban agricultural use
  • Hold educational events on food injustice and food sovereignty
  • Continue operating and adding resources to our community fridge
  • Engage city council candidates in the discussion on urban agriculture

We’re excited to continue the work. If you want to join us in any capacity:

  • Email us at cambridgecitygrowers@gmail.com
  • Find us on Instagram at @cambridgecitygrowers as a consistent resource
  • Find our Facebook group for chat, relevant articles, and random updates

Happy New Year everybody! Here’s to a fruitful, bountiful, joyful 2021.

Coast Community Fridge is UP

The Coast Community Fridge is up and running at the Cambridge Community Center at 5 Callendar Street.

Why a community fridge?

Community fridges are a form of mutual aid, community love, and local resilience that is not necessarily present at larger organizations that rely directly on supermarkets and corporate donations. These fridges directly address household food waste while also providing more healthful, diverse foods for folks who are food insecure. The Coast Community Fridge accepts homemade meals as long as they are labelled, as homemade meals offer a glimpse into the food made by the people in our community, and a taste of someone else’s home.

In the summer, Cambridge City Growers will put our garden harvests into the fridge so that we can give out our produce directly to folks.

Who can use the fridge?

Anyone and everyone who needs food or supplies.

Safety guidelines for those using the fridge:

  • Please try and stay 6 feet apart from others
  • Take what you need, leave what you don’t
  • Read the allergens list if you have any allergies
  • Wear a mask!

If you are dropping off food, please follow a few guidelines:

  • No alcohol please!
  • All serious allergens such as peanuts and tree nuts must be tightly sealed 
  • Homemade meals must be marked with any potential allergens (ie. if you’ve had nuts in your kitchen, you should add that for seriously allergic folks) and ingredients; please also add the date made, and the estimated expiration date.
  • DO NOT DONATE if you are COVID-positive or have experienced any symptoms in the past two weeks
  • Raw meat should only go in the freezer

Are you interested in volunteering?

We would love to have folks stop by consistently to help clean and check on the fridge/pantry. This includes ensuring that dry goods in the pantry are dry and in good condition, cleaning fridge surfaces, making sure food is organized so that it can’t get damaged when stacked in the fridge. Please reach out to cambridgecitygrowers@gmail.com if you would like to help!

Building our community fridge

What started with a long-dormant idea in the summer turned into a very fast moving train! We received a fridge donation offer on Monday and today, Wednesday, we have a host and location.

This means we need to get volunteers ASAP to build our fridge.

Community fridges need a shed to protect from weather and other elements, as well as an artist or artists to make the fridge a vibrant community resource, not just a kitchen fridge. So here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Volunteers who have construction and woodworking tools: electric drills, bits, nails, etc.
  • Volunteers who can donate wood, palettes, other shed materials; paints, waterproof coating
  • Volunteers to BUILD!
  • Local, Cambridge BIPOC artist
  • Volunteers who can help maintain (i.e. clean, stock or clear the fridge)

Get the word out! Let’s get this fridge running.

Giving Tuesday

On this Giving Tuesday, we are not asking for very much. But we’re doing a LOT!

Here is what our group is working on, and it’s probably not even the full list:

  • Working with community partners to build more gardens
  • Collecting seeds to grow and distribute next year
  • Bringing policy proposals and lobbying the city to allocate public lands for urban agriculture
  • Building a community fridge in Cambridge
  • Collecting educational resources on gardening, agriculture, environment, and justice

We are hoping you will considering contributing $1 or $5 to our GoFundMe today so that we can get all we need to get done before the next growing season.

We are not just a gardening group. We exist to address food, economic, and racial injustices present here in Cambridge. While we started in April, we’ve come very far in building up our community and alliances, and have been able to grow on more plots than we imagined!

Right now, we are on the verge of setting up a community fridge, and in order to uphold our mission of economic justice, we want to pay back our friends who help transport, build, and paint our fridge. There will be maintenance costs as well. This community fridge will be a resource that is unbound by the corporate-industrial complex to which traditional food banks are tied, and promotes mutual aid and allyship rather than charity.

Happy Tuesday and power to all.

On Growing Ground Cherries

Crystal’s husk cherries

Ground cherries (aka husk cherries) are a kind of fruit that’s sweet and golden when totally ripe, or slightly sour-sweet when not yet ripe. They grow similar to a tomato plant in terms of nutrient needs, but can handle poor soil much better. They grow roots along the stalk if left on the ground, but can be staked up (and produce more fruit if they’re elevated, in my experience). My largest ground cherry plant grew to 6 feet tall, this year, before a large wind/rain storm bowed it over. (It continued producing fruit despite injuries, and was very resilient.)

Ground cherries can produce 300 fruits per plant, if you’re lucky, so you don’t need many plants! They can also self-seed after the first year, with fruits that fall to the ground and are covered by leaves before you reach them.

Based on that theory, I’m giving you fruits that are not good for eating (Some of them are even moldy! Gross! Don’t eat them!), but they are fine for seeding. You can either take these fruits and dry the seeds yourself on a paper towel, or you can simply threw a few of them on the ground where you want them next year, put some leaves over them so they don’t roll away, and see how soon they come up. They don’t like the cold, so they won’t start growing until spring, at this point. 🙂 
There’s plenty of info about ground cherries online, starting with wikipedia and going into grow guides. There’s also info on ways to eat them, of course, including the jam I’m making. I hope this little intro helped!

From Crystal, one of our gardeners

Give and/or take from your local community fridge!

These are the known community fridges in Massachusetts, all run by volunteers. Please reach out to us at cambridgecitygrowers@gmail.com if you know of others not on this list.