Tag Archives: Backyard Growers

6th grade Gloucester Day at O’Maley and community service

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I had a great time at O’Maley this week, presenting to 6th graders for “Gloucester Day”. For the past couple of years, I’ve spoken with classes about the HarborWalk because they study it at some point during the academic year. 6th graders are great and all (they were fantastic), but these O’Maley teachers make it seem effortless. Me? I bought cookies from Cafe Sicilia and Virgilios to hand out!  This year I ran into Tom Balf for Maritime Gloucester on the way in,  heard the teachers delight in seeing their former student, David Brooks for the Hive, back as a mentor, coach and leader. I caught some of Rick Doucette’s presentation because I heard the exclamations over YMCA summer camp and the 24 sleepless hours in a rocking chair fundraiser. Allison Cousins was heading into a class with Little Charlie Goes To Gloucester, a children’s picture book about poet Charles Olson by filmmaker Henri Ferrini and illustrated by Stefan Mallette. (It was also mentioned as it’s one of the links on the Olson marker for the HarborWalk and you can see it with other Cape Ann Reads published books.) This year, Gloucester day fell on National Teacher Appreciation Day. Every day could be National Teacher Appreciation Day.  Here’s the report from 6th grade social studies teacher, Jessica Haskell and her O’Maley colleagues:

On Tuesday, May 3rd, 6th grade students at O’Maley Innovation Middle School participated in “Gloucester Day” as part of an introduction to their end-of-the-year service projects.  Citizens who are active members of the Gloucester community volunteered their time and expertise to come in and teach students about organizations that work to make our community a better place.  Students were also introduced to ways in which they can personally get involved in these efforts through exploring and discovering their hometown, volunteering, participating in summer camps, and coming up with their own ideas.  Community mentors who attended were Catherine Ryan (HarborWalk), Rick Doucette (YMCA, Awesome Gloucester), Meghan Stratton (Backyard Growers), David Brooks (The HIVE), Tom Balf (Maritime Gloucester), Beth Klinefelter (The Open Door), and Allison Cousins (O’Maley Guidance).

Thanks for sending these photos and looking forward to hearing about the students’ projects!

Get better soon, Mr. Davis.




Laura Lepionka writes,

Hello Folks,

She simply didn’t believe me. There was no way that there could be carrots growing in her school garden because all she could see was a bunch of green leaves. But this little kindergartener from Veterans School had the surprise of her life when she reached down, scraped at the soil surface and found some orange! In the next moment she was yanking a carrot out of the ground along with her classmates and holding it up in the air with the biggest smile.

Please join us this year by donating to our end-of-year campaign in conjunction with Giving Tuesday, which is TODAY!

Why Backyard Growers this season? School, community, and backyard gardens yield delicious veggies, increase access to nature, provide learning opportunities, and improve children’s health — But more than that, gardens grow community and a powerful source of self-reliance.

This Giving Tuesday, help Backyard Growers strengthen our work serving Gloucester’s families and children. When you give today the first $2,250 we receive will be matched by three of our generous donors. This match represents a year’s worth of garden supplies for our district-wide Salad Days and Fall Harvest Days programs in Gloucester’s elementary schools. Double your impact and help us meet our match! Our partner, The Giving Common, will cover credit card fees so that 100% of your donation goes to Backyard Growers.

Please click the link to make your donation: https://www.givingcommon.org/profile/1141198/backyard-growers/

Thank you!

Lara Lepionka, Executive Director
Backyard Growers
269 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930




12238232_744193979017772_8600542545552765950_oCome do your holiday shopping for the gardeners in your life at Backyard Growers this Saturday for SHOP LOCAL SATURDAY! We have new t-shirts, ready-to-go garden gift tins filled with donated products from local businesses, and High Mowing seeds, sprouts, and gift boxes. 100% of your purchase will support our non-profit programs that benefit Gloucester kids and families!


Backyard Growers Harvesting at Veterans Memorial School

Lisa Smith submits, “Fall is here and it is time to harvest the crops. The Backyard Growers have gardens at all of the Gloucester schools where they mentor the students on how to grow vegetables from seed. Here they are harvesting at Veteran’s Memorial School with the students.”

HORRENDOUSLY HORRIBLE HORRIBLES! with Seth Moulton, Ann Margaret Ferrante, Bruce Tarr, Jimmy T, Cape Ann Food Pantry, Boxers, Adorable Pug, Yogis, Pink Elephants, and MORE!

Cape Ann farmer's Market Horribles Parade ©Kim Smith 2015First Place Horrible’s Award to Cape Ann Farmer’s Market, Backyard Growers Program, and Ukeladies

Gloucester Horribles Parade -3 ©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester Horribles Parade Zinnia, Audi, Peter Sousa ©Kim Smith 2015.JPGZinnia, Audi, and Peter

Gloucester Horribles Parade Seth Moulton -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Seth Moulton

Gloucester Horribles Parade Jimmy T ©Kim Smith 2015Jimmy T
Gloucester Horribles Parade -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester Horribles Parade Ann margaret Ferrante ©Kim Smith 2015Gloucester Horribles Parade Senator Bruce Tarr ©Kim Smith 2015Gloucester Horribles Parade -7 ©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester Horribles Parade Paul McGeary ©Kim Smith 2015Gloucester Horribles Parade ©Kim Smith 2015 -8Gloucester Horribles Parade Beauport Vodka ©Kim Smith 2015Gloucester Horribles Parade -13 ©Kim Smith 2015Gloucester Horribles Parade -11 ©Kim Smith 2015Gloucester Horribles Parade -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Nice Guys with Cute Pug! Gloucester Horribles Parade  -6©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester Horribles Parade Open Door ©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester Horribles Parade  -10©Kim Smith 2015


Your vote could help Backyard Growers win $20K from Seeds of Change to support school gardens in Gloucester!

Follow these steps:
1) Go to http://www.seedsofchangegrant.com/TheGallery.aspx
2) Type Backyard Growers into the Garden Name field and hit search.
3) When we pop up click on Backyard Growers.
4) Then click VOTE!
5) Vote once a day until 4/27
Last year YOUR VOTES made it possible for us to win $10K. LET”S DO IT AGAIN THIS YEAR!!! BUT FOR MORE!!! And thanks!


Happy Easter Peeps!

Did you know that chickens eat their own pooh, and other chicken’s pooh as well? You can see one of the chicks doing just that in the Vine below.

The first time the food passes through the gut it is not fully digested. Many species that eat primarily vegetation eat their own pooh to recover nutrients. Herbage can be a tough substance to breakdown. Vegetating-eating animals have evolved to either have several stomachs, a cow, for example, or to eat their own feces and digest it again.

I just can’t get enough of Backyard Grower’s adorable peeps. As of yesterday, there are two families remaining. Visit their website for more about the Cutest Fundraiser Ever!

Abigail and Samuel Cook Peep Viewing at Backyard Growers!

Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014  --8

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.


Sweetest and Cutest Baby Chicks at Backyard Growers Main Street! Stop in and have a peep!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Welcome adorable chix!

Backyard Growers was kind enough to allow GMG to photograph Main Street’s newest residents (albeit temporary). There are four different families of chickens, with a triplet in each. The babies must be sold in groups of three because, as Meghan explained, when a new baby chicken is introduced to a flock, if they don’t come with their own posse, they may be bullied by the flock. The four chicken families are Rhode Island Reds, Silver and Gold Laced Wyandottes, Buff Orpingtons, and Easter Eggers, which lay blue eggs!

Baby Chicks Backyard Growers ©Kim Smith 2015

Buff Orpington is on the left, Easter Egger on the right (I think) 

Lara and Meghan have named each family of chicks after a TV show, Downton Abbey and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for example, and each chicken is named after a character in the show. See Backyard Growers Facebook page to find out the names of the chicks and visit their beautiful new website for more information on the Cutest Fundraiser Ever!

Stop In and Have a Peep!

Backyard Growers Baby Chicks Meghan ©Kim smith 2015 copy

 Meghan and Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red Chick Easter Egger ©Kim Smith 2015

Meghan Backyard Growers Baby Chicks ©Kim Smith 2015 copy

Happy Spring!

*     *     *

Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014  --8

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Backyard Growers Spring Salad Workshop

Hey Good Morning Gloucester!

We have another big event coming up in addition to the fish tasting…and again we would be very grateful if you would help us promote it.

Spring may seem a long way off, but it’s really just around the corner. To ring in the spring and show off their brand new office, Backyard Growers is holding their annual Groundhog Day spring salad planting workshop on Saturday January 31 from 10:00 am – 11:30 am at 269 Main Street. 

The theme of the day: the versatile and colorful world of lettuces! Learn why lettuces are perfect early spring crops while you taste salad samples, plan your spring garden, and plant some seeds for early greens. Participants will leave with:

  • Ready-to-go windowsill lettuce plants
  • Plans for your spring garden
  • New, healthy salad dressing recipes
  • Everything you need to hit the ground running this spring!

No need to get a baby sitter – it’s a family event! Kids will be involved in the process and in their own fun activities like making salad dressings for salad samples. 

​The workshop is free to 1st and 2nd year Backyard Growers and only $15 for any families outside of the program.

However, space is limited! Click this link to sign up today and reserve your spot before January 25!

Interested in volunteering? Sign up here!

Breaking News: Backyard Growers Setting Up New Digs on Main Street!

Lara Lepionka Backyard growers Director ©Kim Smith 2015Executive Director Lara Lepionka

Backyard Growers is moving to their new home at the former site of Present Gloucester, 269 Main Street. They could use help moving furniture from storage in Rockport, unpacking, organizing, and setting up.©Kim Smith 2015JPG Volunteers are needed today, tomorrow, and Sunday, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, with volunteer lunch provided.

Meghan Stratton Backyard Growers ©Kim Smith 2015FoodCorps Service Member Meghan Stratton

Andrew Brousseau Black Earth Compost ©Kim Smith 2015Volunteer Andrew Brousseau from Black Earth Compost

Lara Lepionka Backyard Growers ©Kim Smith 2015

Backyard Growers is in the home stretch to win $10,000 for Gloucester’s school gardens!

Hi Joey! One more posting would be awesome! 

Backyard Growers is in the home stretch to win $10,000 for Gloucester’s school gardens! Please vote once a day until Tuesday, 10/15! And thanks! VOTE HERE = http://goo.gl/CKY3Nk

Here are a couple short youtube videos for your amusement and in thanks for your continued support! We have put rolly pollies on the payroll! And my kid is as sick of me as you are! (No rolly pollies or small children were harmed in the filming of these videos)

Rolly Polly wants you to vote

Sick of school gardens

It’s The Final Stretch! Backyard Growers Update!!! Your Vote Could net Gloucester School Gardens $10,000

They’re right there, please help make sure this happens for our school gardens!

PLEASE VOTE once a day until 10/15 so Backyard Growers can WIN $10,000 for SCHOOL GARDENS–We’re in the winning top 15 of the Tom’s of Maine competition! Help keep us there! VOTE HERE = http://goo.gl/CKY3Nk (click on Massachusetts)

A feast for the eyes and the tastebuds! Check out the roasted carrots, beets, and potatoes enjoyed by Gloucester students from veggies they grew themselves!

Image 3

A vegetable petting zoo? Yes! My favorite quote from School Harvest Days, “Is it real? Or is it plastic?”


Backyard Growers Is Growing!

Hello Friends, Colleagues & Get Fit Gloucester Partners,
The Backyard Growers Program has just launched its first-ever on-line fundraising campaign! We are raising money to host a FoodCorps Service Member next year and to support our expansion into Gloucester’s elementary schools (read below for details).
Check out our campaign at www.indiegogo.com

Please consider making a donation and/or forwarding our campaign to your networks.
The fundraiser video features my lovely daughters, and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face : )
Thank you!
Here’s the nitty-gritty on who we are and what we’re asking for (you can also read this on our campaign site):

What we do
Backyard Growers is a program of the Cape Ann Farmers’ Market. We are part of the farmers’ market strategy for increasing fresh veggie eating in Gloucester!

Since 2010 the Backyard Growers Program, in partnership with The Food Project, has provided low- to moderate-income Gloucester residents with backyard raised-bed vegetable gardens, garden training, and ongoing mentor support.
It’s simple! We help people grow their own fresh vegetables. Our survey results show that having a backyard garden and knowing how to use it:

  • Increases the amount of fresh produce a family eats,
  • Gets kids excited about eating fresh veggies,
  • Saves money on grocery bills, and
  • Builds community within neighborhoods.

We are expanding!
Next fall we will expand into Gloucester’s elementary schools, bringing our comprehensive garden program to over 1300 students! Our program will build the capacity of each school community to manage their school farms over the long term. Students will:

  • Learn through doing in the school garden!
  • Grow and harvest their own salad greens and eat them as part of school lunch in the cafeteria.
  • Plant crops in June to be harvested when they return to school in the fall as part of an annual harvest celebration.

To do this we need help…
We have an opportunity to host a FoodCorps Service Member for one year starting in September.

FoodCorps is a national nonprofit organization that works with schools to create a healthier school food environment. It is part of the AmeriCorps service network, and targets improving childhood health by placing service members in public schools around the country to teach hands-on nutrition education; build and care for school gardens; and work to bring high-quality local food to school cafeterias.

Our Service Member will build the capacity of each school to maintain productive school gardens with the goal of school gardens becoming part of the culture of each school!

Your contribution will make all this possible! Please help us raise $7,500 by donating to our campaign.

  • $5,000 = Our salary contribution for a one-year, full-time FoodCorps Service Member
  • $2,500 = Program expansion costs (garden & program supplies, additional staff costs)

We have some fun perks for you, including free seeds & seedlings and garden training, and some special ways for you to connect with the school garden program. If we don’t reach our entire fundraising goal we will ramp up the grant writing. If we exceed our goal, we will put the funds toward the future sustainability of the Backyard Growers Program.

Help us Spread the Word!
Forward this indiegogo campaign to your people.

Like and follow Backyard Growers on Facebook.

Lara Lepionka

Square Foot Gardening Training


Grow a more productive garden with less work! And enjoy eating your own home-grown veggies this year!

Quick Links

Contact Lara, BYG Coordinator

BYG webage

BYG on facebook

BYG blog

Square Foot Gardening Training

This year we are offering a limited number of spots to the general public to attend our Backyard Growers Program training. The training program fee is $25. You will be trained alongside this year’s program participants. (Sorry! We can’t provide you will additional Backyard Growers Program resources! The $25 fee is for the 2-hour training only.) To learn more about our program go to the Quick Links above.

The Backyard Growers Program partners with The Food Project to provide an interactive, hands-on training, which is fun, informative, and gives you what you need to successfully start and maintain a garden. You will learn the "square foot gardening method" and how to plan your family’s garden.

Where & When

  • We offer two training dates. Both trainings cover the same material so you only need to sign up for one. 
    • Saturday, March 23 generally for families at Veteran’s, East Gloucester & Plum Cove
    • Saturday, March 30 generally for families at Beeman & West Parish
  • Families that do not fall within these categories can choose which date they would like to attend.
  • The trainings are from 10 AM – 12 PM at The Open Door in the dining room. Please arrive at 9:45 to register. Please use the rear entrance.

Sign-up & Payment

If you’d like to participate please email me with the date you would like to attend and the number of people attending. Space is limited! After confirming your spot you can:

Click here to pay on-line

Or mail a check with BYG in the memo line to:

Cape Ann Farmers’ Market, PO Box 1458, Gloucester, MA 01931

Your $25 fee goes back into supporting the Backyard Growers Program.

Spring is coming, I promise!

Lara Lepionka

Backyard Growers Coordinator

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