Upham's Corner Online

The Food Project Build-a-Garden Program

Posted: May 1, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

When we spoke with Vincent Randolph last November (11/19/10), he was a senior at St. Clements High School in Somerville and an intern at The Food Project where he worked 8 to 30 hours a week on projects such as the Farmers Market and "Build-A-Garden" - installing raised beds.

Talk about a knowledgeable youth!  No matter what question we asked, he knew the answer immediately.  You can tell he's proud of his knowledge and enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

So how could I get a raised bed installed in my yard?  Here's how to get started with The Food Project.
  1. Fill out an application [some restrictions based on where you live]
  2. Meet with a representative to determine the best location on your property
  3. Pay a small fee -- $10
  4. Get your raised bed installed between spring and late fall
On installation day, usually a Saturday, The Food Project workers have already been given the resident's address and a map showing where the raised bed is to be built.    

Prior to driving off, 3-5 workers fill the van with the necessary equipment and materials. 
  • Take 20 to 30 crates with organic soil from the urban farm.    Why such a big range in the number of crates?  It's because of variations in the soil.  There has to be enough soil to fill the raised bed completely.  If the soil is dense, more crates are needed.  If the soil is light and fluffy, fewer crates are needed.
  • Take two (2) 8' and two (2) 4' pieces of wood, a tarp, (4) large angle brackets, screws and a cordless drill.  
  • Attach seatbelts and go.
At the customer site the workers unload the materials and equipment then start building.
  1. Create an L-shaped section by butting an 8 foot section across the face of a 4 foot section
  2. Locate a large angle bracket on the interior corner of the L-shape
  3. Secure the unit together by screwing from the inside through the holes in the bracket
  4. Repeat for the second L-shape
  5. Place the tarp on the ground where the raised red is to be located. [The tarp prevents roots from reaching past the bottom of the raised bed where the soil is likely contaminated.]
  6. Lay the two L-shaped sections on the tarp and connect using angle brackets and screws
  7. Fill the raised bed with soil and level using a rake
  8. Provide the owner with a growing guide and seeds, as appropriate, for the time of year
  9. Leave the site knowing you've made a difference
The Food Project workers are so experienced at this activity that 3-5 workers can complete their work in 45 minutes to an hour.

So here we have it:  Another day in the life of The Food Project - how their youth are making a difference in the economics, social symbols, way of life, community bonding and the  physical and spiritual health of our residents.

Thank you, Food Project.

For more informaton, visit The Food Project website under Build-a-Garden:  http://thefoodproject.org/BaG

Build-a-Garden Raised Bed Build-a-Garden Raised Bed
Two raised beds installed in late 2010 in Upham's Corner,
one in a front yard and the other towards the back.

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