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Urban Environmental Program in New England

What is Open Space/Green Space?

Open space is any open piece of land that is undeveloped (has no buildings or other built structures) and is accessible to the public. Open space can include:

  • Green space (land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation). Green space includes parks, community gardens, and cemeteries.
  • Schoolyards
  • Playgrounds
  • Public seating areas
  • Public plazas
  • Vacant lots

Open space provides recreational areas for residents and helps to enhance the beauty and environmental quality of neighborhoods. But with this broad range of recreational sites comes an equally broad range of environmental issues. Just as in any other land uses, the way parks are managed can have good or bad environmental impacts, from pesticide runoff, siltation from overused hiking and logging trails, and destruction of habitat.

Lack of community and public access to safe open and green space is a critical area of concern for urban residents in New England.

Grants & Projects

2006: EarthWorks (Roxbury, MA)
Campaign for a Greener Tomorrow
$30,000

EarthWorks engages residents of Greater Boston’s urban neighborhoods in the community stewardship of local green space and raises ecological awareness through education, outreach, training and demonstration projects. EarthWorks will provide training, education, and hands-on learning experiences for residents and youth to protect, enhance, restore and preserve Boston’s open and green space. The “Campaign for a Greener Tomorrow” project will recruit, educate, and train resident volunteers to act as stewards of public green space and orchards at seven urban sites throughout the highly diverse, densely populated neighborhoods of Mission Hill, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Roslindale. EarthWorks staff will work with residents and teen interns to measurably improve the ecological health and biodiversity of these sites through hands-on training, environmental service learning projects, and follow-up activities to illustrate integrated pest management, reduction of toxics in soil, organic agriculture, and orchard preservation. In addition to coordinating this extensive volunteer resident network and training effort, EarthWorks will provide environmental and public service events for youth and urban residents to encourage safe use of Boston’s public green spaces and orchards.

Measurable Results: Increased community involvement with a minimum of 40 project days and 240 days of environmental service; two internships for teen graduates of Youth Environmental Action program; restoring and improving plant biodiversity at seven sites covering 33.25 acres of urban green space by planting 230 native trees and shrubs; removal of thousands of harmful invasive species at four urban woodlands restoring 31 acres; reversing erosion at an urban woodland site; measurable improvements in quality and yield of fruit in five urban orchards; and establish 6-24 resident stewards.

Partners: Boston Parks and Recreation Department, Boston Food Not Bombs, Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center, Friends of Nira Rock, Roslindale Wetlands Task Force


2006: City Sprouts (Cambridge, MA)
Environmental Education in Schoolyard Gardens
$14,865

City Sprouts provides Cambridge’s urban public school communities with sustainable gardens to support school curricula and engage over 2,000 school children to participate in the food cycle from seed to compost, offering after-school and summer programs as well as school-year curriculum-based programs. The “Environmental Education in Schoolyard Gardens” project will provide the community with three-season access to all five of City Sprouts’ urban schoolyard garden sites, as well as with education in the skills needed to grow one’s own food and the knowledge how to deploy integrated pest management techniques which reduces exposure to toxics. Youth interns, City Sprouts staff and community volunteers will supervise garden maintenance and summer educational workshops to reach a broad local audience. Twenty public workshops will be offered at no cost over the course of two years for community members to attend, and eight families will be specifically trained in comprehensive urban gardening techniques.

Measurable Results: 600 people reached by educational materials; 300 people actively engaged in environmental stewardship practices; 20 free public educational workshops given at each of five sites on topics including growing and preparing vegetables and fruits, composting, recycling, identifying soil toxins, and soil remediation; open community garden provided for 70 weeks over two years, through spring, summer and fall at each of five sites; eight families trained in comprehensive approaches to healthy urban environments in homes and gardens; 10 youth interns receive training and education about urban environmental concerns, gardening, and community outreach; educational activities on composting presented in school cafeterias; annual harvest festival connects community members to resources provided by project partners.

Partners: Cambridge Public Schools, Cambridge Recycling (division of Cambridge Department of Public Works), The Food Project


2006:Portland Trails (Portland, ME)
Building Community Collaboration, Sustainability, and Walkability in Portland’s Schoolground Parks
$30,000

Portland Trails has worked since 1991 constructing multi-use trails within greater Portland, ME and serves as an advocate for the protecting natural places by engaging community participation in trail stewardship and providing programming for sustained use of sites. The project seeks to transform asphalt-dominated schoolgrounds into greener, healthier, more productive areas by developing a coalition of community members, local agencies, and local businesses which will reclaim and restore school areas into schoolground-parks in Portland as centers for community gathering, environmental education, and stewardship. The project will work with residents, schools, youth and community partners to undertake substantial redesign and renovation of at least three schoolground-parks. A Schoolground Greening Conference will also be held to educate, engage and inform Portland residents about the greening of schoolground-parks and teach key principles of environmental stewardship in urban areas. The coalition will also seek to further expand its outreach through newsletters, press releases, monthly meetings, new members, email lists, and an expanded website to reach more residents in Maine.

Measurable Results: At least three restored schoolground-parks, serving a minimum total of 800 students and their families; at least three community workdays to involve residents in project construction; at least three public events to invite the Portland community into newly greened sites for safe and productive use; expanded mailing list to reach at least 1,000 community members and businesses; expanded website with educational articles and links on environmental and social benefits of greener schoolground-parks; an educational conference to reach over 100 community residents; increased walking and biking to sites by residents and students.

Partners: Portland Public Schools, Portland Parks & Recreation Department, Maine Association of Landscape Architects, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners in the Schools Program, Cultivating Community, GrowSmart Maine, Portland Water District, Portland Educational Partnership, Portland Public Health, Greater Portland Neighborhoods Coalition


2006: EarthWorks (Roxbury, MA)
Campaign for a Greener Tomorrow
$30,000

EarthWorks engages residents of Greater Boston’s urban neighborhoods in the community stewardship of local green space and raises ecological awareness through education, outreach, training and demonstration projects. EarthWorks will provide training, education, and hands-on learning experiences for residents and youth to protect, enhance, restore and preserve Boston’s open and green space. The “Campaign for a Greener Tomorrow” project will recruit, educate, and train resident volunteers to act as stewards of public green space and orchards at seven urban sites throughout the highly diverse, densely populated neighborhoods of Mission Hill, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and Roslindale. EarthWorks staff will work with residents and teen interns to measurably improve the ecological health and biodiversity of these sites through hands-on training, environmental service learning projects, and follow-up activities to illustrate integrated pest management, reduction of toxics in soil, organic agriculture, and orchard preservation. In addition to coordinating this extensive volunteer resident network and training effort, EarthWorks will provide environmental and public service events for youth and urban residents to encourage safe use of Boston’s public green spaces and orchards.

Measurable Results: Increased community involvement with a minimum of 40 project days and 240 days of environmental service; two internships for teen graduates of Youth Environmental Action program; restoring and improving plant biodiversity at seven sites covering 33.25 acres of urban green space by planting 230 native trees and shrubs; removal of thousands of harmful invasive species at four urban woodlands restoring 31 acres; reversing erosion at an urban woodland site; measurable improvements in quality and yield of fruit in five urban orchards; and establish 6-24 resident stewards.

Partners: Boston Parks and Recreation Department, Boston Food Not Bombs, Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center, Friends of Nira Rock, Roslindale Wetlands Task Force


2006: City Sprouts (Cambridge, MA)
Environmental Education in Schoolyard Gardens
$14,865

City Sprouts provides Cambridge’s urban public school communities with sustainable gardens to support school curricula and engage over 2,000 school children to participate in the food cycle from seed to compost, offering after-school and summer programs as well as school-year curriculum-based programs. The “Environmental Education in Schoolyard Gardens” project will provide the community with three-season access to all five of City Sprouts’ urban schoolyard garden sites, as well as with education in the skills needed to grow one’s own food and the knowledge how to deploy integrated pest management techniques which reduces exposure to toxics. Youth interns, City Sprouts staff and community volunteers will supervise garden maintenance and summer educational workshops to reach a broad local audience. Twenty public workshops will be offered at no cost over the course of two years for community members to attend, and eight families will be specifically trained in comprehensive urban gardening techniques.

Measurable Results: 600 people reached by educational materials; 300 people actively engaged in environmental stewardship practices; 20 free public educational workshops given at each of five sites on topics including growing and preparing vegetables and fruits, composting, recycling, identifying soil toxins, and soil remediation; open community garden provided for 70 weeks over two years, through spring, summer and fall at each of five sites; eight families trained in comprehensive approaches to healthy urban environments in homes and gardens; 10 youth interns receive training and education about urban environmental concerns, gardening, and community outreach; educational activities on composting presented in school cafeterias; annual harvest festival connects community members to resources provided by project partners.

Partners: Cambridge Public Schools, Cambridge Recycling (division of Cambridge Department of Public Works), The Food Project

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