For the past several years, we’ve been privileged to make Juneteenth a donation day, supporting the work of local Black-led organizations such as the wonderful VLA Dance and the Cambridge-Somerville Black Business Network (CSBBN) (and we encourage you to support their on-going work through direct donations!).
This Sunday, June 19th we’ll be donating 5% of sales from both Cambridge Naturals stores to the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, an organization that promotes urban farming in Boston, to engage individuals in growing food and building a healthy community!
Please read more about UFI’s work below, and if you can’t make it into either of our stores on Sunday June 19th (Juneteenth!) please consider making a donation directly to them! We’re linking their donation page here:
About the Urban Farming Institute of Boston:
What we Value?
At UFI we believe that food is a universal right. We envision a city whose vacant land is abundant, food cultures are diverse, and people are excited to grow and share food.
Headquartered in Mattapan, the Urban Farming Institute (UFI) is building on this strength and turning neighborhoods green. We envision a deep and distributed farming network, in which any location can be a place where food is grown for local consumption, local sales and local distribution.
UFI is building a Local Area Food Network in its role as a leader of the urban farming movement in Boston. For UFI, the goal is to bring people to delicious food and healthy eating, to transform neglected land in neighborhoods, and to contribute to economic and environmental resilience by localizing the food system.
What We Do?
UFI is acquiring land and building farms. With its partner, The Trust for Public Land, UFI created the first as-of-right commercial urban farm in Boston. With the help of the City of Boston, neighborhood residents, farming friends, and developers, UFI is finding more land to turn into farms.
To preserve and protect the farms, UFI established the first community land trust (CLT) for urban farms. The CLT will hold and manage the land to ensure the farms will be growing food well into the future.
UFI Operates Farms
UFI manages seven farms in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan from its flagship headquarters at the Fowler Clark Epstein (FCE) Farm in Mattapan and earns income from selling produce to several local restaurant partners, including Area Four, Mei Mei, City Fresh Foods, Dudley Cafe, Fresh Food Generation, Tanám, American Provisions, Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor, Café JuiceUp, and Juice and Jazz Cafe.
UFI Trains Farmers
Every year since 2013, UFI has welcomed up to thirty people to its nine-week Urban Farmer Training Program, a classroom introduction to small plot farming. Students learn plant health, crop planning, and the business of farming.
Interested trainees move on to intensive field courses for hands-on experiences for 20 weeks on the farms. From the task of weeding to the thrill of the harvest, from mornings at the farm to afternoons at the farmers markets, from classroom to farm visits, participants get immersed in the real world of urban farm life. Additionally, UFI’s Young Farmers Project is growing as it moves into its second year.
UFI Educates and Advocates
Community-based urban farms welcome people to stop by, ask questions, and learn new tips and tricks during the spring, summer, and fall. Every year, over 740 organized volunteers come to the farms through UFI’s volunteer program. UFI keeps people excited about farming and food through the winter with indoor workshops like Growing Food Without a Garden, Food as Medicine, and Bees, Bees, Bees until it is time to head back outdoors in the spring for Foraging for Wild Edibles.
UFI has been advocating and planning at City Hall and the State House to raise the profile and impact of urban farming. UFI and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources co-sponsor a statewide Urban Farming Conference. Attracting vendors, sponsors, and over 400 participants from across the state, the conference is the place for networking and knowledge sharing.
Do you know of a lot you would like us to turn into a farm?
We hope you will join the Urban Farming Institute as we work to develop urban farming as a commercial industry in Boston to bring more good food into neighborhoods, grow economic opportunity, transform vacant lots and support healthy living.