Spring Cleaning

The annual Somerville Spring Clean Up and SomerGreen Festival takes place on Saturday, April 26.
Help spruce up the city after a tough winter. Union Square teams gather in front of 90 Union Square.  After some work, teams from across the city gather for a lunch catered by  Redbones BBQ, and live music.  Groups at the fair will share information on urban agriculture and green initiatives.
It all takes place that Saturday April 26 with a rain date of April 27. The cleanup effort is from 10 a.m. to noon, and the SomerGreen Festival and BBQ is from noon to 2 p.m. at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, 32 Shore Drive.

Metro Pedal Power Owner Wenzday Jane Featured in Documentary

Metro Pedal Power has long been a fixture here in Union Square. The bike-powered delivery service has a home on Olive Square and the red cargo bikes are frequently seen on treks filled with vegetables, books, and other packages.

The owner of MetroPedal Power is the subject of a new documentary. “Power to the Pedals: Wenzday Jane and the Culture of Change” and the Boston premium takes place Friday, April 25, 2014.

The 30-minute film follows Wenzday as she works to transform her community’s relationship to fossil fuel.  Raised in public housing, she watched her family struggle with dependence, disempowerment, and inertia.  Determined to pull herself out from these inherited conditions, she gradually built up her skill set.  Learning construction techniques and welding, she realized that she literally had the power to reshape her world. Now she’s lowering the carbon footprint – and finding her own place – one cargo bike at a time.

The film is produced and directed by Somerville resident Bob Nesson who teaches filmmaking at Emerson College.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with some of the region’s foremost thought leaders. These include Jackie Douglas, Executive Director of Livable Streets; Benjamin Linder, Associate Professor of Design and Mechanical Engineering at Olin College; Wenzday Jane, President of Metro Pedal Power; and “Power to the Pedals”director Bob Nesson. The panel will be moderated by John Siemiatkoski, Chair of the Board, the League of American Bicyclists.

“Power to the Pedals”
Friday, April 25, 2014
BSA Space (Boston Society of Architects), 290 Congress Street, Boston
Doors open at 6:30 pm, and the film begins at 7.
Tickets are $ 10, $5 for BSA members.
Reservations are required via the BSA website.

Check out the trailer here.

Power to the Pedals: Wenzday Jane and the Culture of Change Trailer from Heather Merrill on Vimeo.

Union Square Farmers Market Celebrates Tenth Year, Season Opens May 17

From the farms and fields, orchards and kitchens of Massachusetts, the Union Square Farmers Market returns for a tenth season in 2014. The Union Square plaza comes alive a little earlier this year with May 17 as opening day. Every Saturday from 9 am-1 pm through November 22 the market offers a big selection of fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers, meats and seafood, dairy products, baked goods and breads, hard cider and a fun-filled environment for the whole family.

The Union Square Farmers Market is produced by Union Square Main Streets, an economic development organization working to make this Somerville neighborhood a great place everyday.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are welcomed and encouraged at the market, as well as WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Coupons. For those using their SNAP benefits, the market offers a 1-to-1 match up to $10 per week. This means dollars go further for our low-income neighbors, turning $10 from their EBT card into $20 in market tokens.

To support the SNAP match program, join us once a month for “Sugar SNAP” as our guest booth features local maple syrup and maple treats including maple sugar and cotton candy. 100% of the profits from the sales of this booth directly support the SNAP matching program.


Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs and Flowers:

Drumlin Farm (Lincoln, MA) Full range of vegetables, strawberries, drop cherries and cut flowers

Flats Mentor Farm (Fitchburg, MA) Hmong farmers specializing in Asian greens

Hutchins Farm (Concord, MA) Certified Organic farm with herbs, apples and melon, full range of vegetables.

Kimball Fruit Farm (Pepperell, MA) IPM farm with full range of tree fruit, berries and vegetables

Misty Brook Farm (Albion, ME) Certified organic producer of vegetables, whole and ground grains, eggs and meat.

Nicewicz Family Farm (Bolton, MA) IPM orchard with full range of tree fruit, berries, grapes, and corn

Parker Farm (Lunenberg, MA) Full range of vegetables and greens

Soluna Garden Farm (Winchester, MA) Sustainably grown herbs and flowers, featuring unusual and hard to find varieties


Cheese, Meat, Seafood:

Brookford Farm (Canterbury, NH) Cheeses, eggs, and grains from their non-GMO farm

Fiore di Nonno (Somerville, MA) Fresh mozzarella and string cheeses

Jordan Brothers Seafood (Brockton, MA) Fish and shellfish

Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm (Hardwick, MA) Fresh cut flowers and pasture/free range and hormone free meats including lamb, turkey, pork, chicken and beef

(Misty Brook Farm (Albion, ME) Certified organic producer of vegetables, whole and ground grains, eggs and meat.)


Specialty Foods and Baked Goods:

Carr’s Ciderhouse (Hadley, MA) – Hard ciders, apple cider vinegar, and cider syrup

Dan’s Brick Oven Bread (Richmond, NH) Naturally leavened 100% locally grown whole wheat sourdough baked in a wood-fired brick oven.

Hosta Hill (Housatonic, MA) Artisan tempeh and vegetable ferments including sauerkraut and kimchi, created with root vegetables from their own farm and neighboring farms.

Iggy’s Bread of the World (Cambridge, MA) Artisnal breads, including: Country, whole wheat, french, light and dark rye, olive bread, ficelle and bread sticks, brioche, facaccia, 7-grain, cranberry pecan, pizza shells

Mariposa Bakery (Cambridge, MA) From scratch bakery specializing in pies using seasonal and local ingredients.

Seta’s Mediterranean Foods (Belmont, MA) Mediterranean spreads, salads, baked goods

Taza Chocolate (Somerville, MA) Stone ground chocolate from organically grown cacao beans direct from small farmer cooperatives made in our neighborhood factory

Union Square Donuts (Somerville, MA) – Donuts, kombucha and specialty popiscles

Violette Gluten Free (Cambridge, MA) – Gluten free bakery offering cakes, cookies and more, made with their own milled flours.

Tipping Cow Ice Cream (Medford, MA) – Off beat gourmet ice cream, featuring fresh produce flavors including Sweet Corn and Strawberry Basil


Siraco Sharpening Service (Somerville, MA)- Sharpening services of kitchen knives, garden tools. Check our calendar for exact dates.


Union Square Market Information


Dates: Saturdays from May 17 – November 22 (Rain or Shine)

Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Payment Accepted: Cash, Farmers Market WIC & Senior coupons, Union Square Market tokens (all major Credit/Debit accepted)

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Union Square Development – Master Developer

The City of Somerville is seeking a master developer to enact the Union Square Redevelopment Plan. This developer would facilitate 2.3 million square feet of new development in seven  development blocks. The parcels are currently assessed at $26 million.

A 20-member Community Advisory Committee is tasked with selecting the master developer for approval by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority.

Short Listed Candidates for Master Developer:

 Key documents:



Transportation Documents:

Other resources:


Special Classes at SCAT

Acting for the Camera: Wednesday May 7, 14, 21, & 28

Improve your acting ability while gaining a better understanding of the differences between acting for the stage and acting for the camera. Participants will be guided through lessons and hands-on exercises designed for acquiring better film and television acting techniques. Instructor Alison Folland was nominated in 1997 for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead in All Over Me and had supporting roles in films such as To Die For, Good Will Hunting andBoys Don’t Cry.

News Anchor Workshop: Saturday, May 10

Be an anchor on SCATV’s new Somerville Neighborhood News team. Instructor Clennon King’s media career spans more than two decades. King spent the bulk of his career as a TV news reporter, and later anchor, at KXAS TV Dallas, WSB TV Atlanta, WSVN TV Miami, WALA TV Mobile and WTLV/WJXX TV Jacksonville, Florida.

For more SCATV Spring media production classes, visit the SCATV website.

Tools for Preserving Locally Owned Businesses

Special to Union Square Main Streets by Emily Tulman

With the expansion of the MBTA’s Green Line into Union Square we can expect increased pedestrian activity and new development in the neighborhood.

These changes offer opportunities and challenges for locally-0wned retailers. New developments tend to attract corporate-owned or chain businesses because new construction properties generally command higher rents and because corporate-owned developers typically prefer businesses that are well-established and, therefore, a safer bet.  Throughout the square, even among existing retail spaces, rents are expected to increase with both the increased foot traffic and neighborhood improvements.  High occupancy costs and the willingness to engage with less well-capitalized business owners are significant barriers for local entrepreneurs.

When locally owned businesses thrive, the benefits extend far beyond that individual business owner. On average, more than half of every one hundred dollars spent in a locally owned establishment is reinvested in the local economy — in local business services, supplies, taxes, wages, and community involvement. A national or non-local business generally outsources more businesses services and supplies, resulting in only a quarter to a third of those same 100 dollars reinvested locally. There are other benefits; studies have shown that small stores and restaurants have a better rate of employee retention and promote greater income growth across the community than formula businesses, which often have a net negative impact on average income and employment. A local store or small business is more likely to sponsor local events and be connected with the needs of the community.

With such significant community benefits, how can we bolster locally owned, independent businesses in Union Square, both those currently in the neighborhood and for future generations?

While it’s been determined that laws outwardly favoring local businesses over national or out-of-state ones are not allowed, it is still possible to enact policies that give local and independent entrepreneurs a fair chance to succeed alongside their larger, non-local competitors. One policy that other communities have successfully employed is a formula business ordinance, a legal measure that controls if, how, and how many formula stores or restaurants can open in a certain area.

A formula business or restaurant is defined as either part of a large chain, offering the same merchandise or menu, or by standardized services, methods, décor, and other identical features. A formula business ordinance is a policy, usually a local zoning policy, that controls if, how, and how many formula stores or restaurants can open in a certain area. They can be completely banned, limited in number, or submitted for approval on a case-by-case basis. The law can also apply only to a specific area rather than an entire district, or distinguish between retail and restaurant, and have different rules for each.

Five towns in Massachusetts already have this type of bylaw in place, either completely banning or restricting formula businesses: Provincetown, Chatham, Nantucket, Dennis, and Barnstable. Formula businesses are completely banned in Nantucket, while Dennis and Barnstable banned them only in certain locations, and Provincetown requires each one to apply for a special permit, to be given on a case by case basis. In other parts of the country, some cities have banned only formula retail, or fast food restaurants, or limited formula businesses to a percentage of total businesses, or to a certain total number.

This type of ordinance does not technically distinguish between local and non-local, but rather between independent business owners and larger companies. The result is that local businesses are still able to open and thrive alongside new developments, including some number of formula businesses. Therefore, it serves a legally sound public purpose: to protect Union Square’s unique character, to promote economic vitality by creating good opportunities for independent entrepreneurs and keeping the businesses community diverse, and to make sure that the commercial district continues to serve the basic needs of the surrounding neighborhood, not only the new non-local foot traffic.

In Somerville, a proposed zoning ordinance would go through the Planning Board, part of the Planning and Zoning division of the OSPCD (Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development). The Planning Board holds public hearings and makes recommendations to the Board of Aldermen, who are elected by the community every two years (odd-numbered years) to represent specific wards or Somerville at-large. The Board of Aldermen would ultimately vote to pass or fail the measure.

Interested in learning more? The Institute for Local Self Reliance has some great resources.