Roxbury, MA (February 12, 2008)- EarthWorks is a nonprofit organization working to create a healthier and more sustainable environment in Greater Boston. EarthWorks Projects seeks to deepen ecological awareness and commitment by helping urban residents experience the nature that exists in Greater Boston. EarthWorks strives to create a healthier and more sustainable urban environment through hands-on projects, education, and advocacy and strengthens communities through service to the environment.
Their Urban Orchards Program is a greening and food production program that operates with local groups to plant, maintain, and harvest fruit- and nut-bearing trees, shrubs, and vines on public land.
Soon after their founding in 1989, they began reclaiming neglected urban space by organizing neighborhood groups around public fruit tree plantings. In 1990, at the request of several community groups and schools, they launched the Urban Orchards Program and planted twenty sites with 200 fruit and nut-bearing trees, primarily in Dorchester and Jamaica Plain. Orchards were added and enlarged each year so that today there are 47 EarthWorks orchards in Boston and surrounding communities. They focus primarily on low-income neighborhoods within the urban core and provide training for those planting and caring for the orchards. In 1998 they published the Urban Fruit Guide, which lists publicly accessible fruit, nuts and berries in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.
Their Outdoor Classrooms Program provides environmental education to Boston public school children by using schoolyard orchards as learning space. Their children’s environmental education programs began as informal lessons on tree care, gardening, composting and basic ecology at elementary and middle schools with EarthWorks orchards. In 1996, acting on the requests of principals and teachers at several schools with orchards, EarthWorks developed more formalized lessons and launched the Outdoor Classroom Program. The program accomplishes two simultaneous goals: deepening students’ understanding of many learning objectives of the Boston Public School science curriculum and helping them to be responsible caretakers of the earth. They published a curriculum guide in 1998; and today EarthWorks instructors teach approximately 1,000 children in eight Boston public schools, with additional schools wanting to be part of the program.
In 1999 EarthWorks partnered with the Boston Parks Department to test methods for restoring the urban forest at McLaughlin Urban Wild on Mission Hill. The success of this pilot project led us to start the Urban Wilds Restoration Program in 2001, a multi-year program to ecologically restore many of Boston’s 39 city-owned urban wilds.
In 2006 they added the Setback Tree Project to our programs. They are currently working with community partners, JP Trees, and the Urban Ecology Institute to plant more than 250 setback trees in Jamaica Plain in 2007. The partnership with UEI is enables us to apply valuable mapping data on canopy cover collected through the recently completed city-wide tree inventory.
In addition to these major programs, they conduct events and workshops in and around Boston that introduce adults to the surprising diversity of flora, fauna and interesting geological features. Usually each fall their Wild Ride bike tour visits some of our orchards and Boston’s urban wilds where participants can learn about fruit trees and sample the harvest.
For more information, visit EarthWorks Projects.