EarthWorks is a non-profit organization working to create a healthier and more sustainable environment in Greater Boston. Our 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. In the Urban Wilds Program we partner with the Boston Parks Department to ecologically restore city-owned natural areas. Our Outdoor Classrooms Program provides environmental education to Boston public school children by using schoolyard orchards as learning space. Our calendar offers opportunities to experience the natural world in Boston through nature walks, volunteer learn-and-serve work sessions, and
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.
- To directly connect individuals to nature and the environment, improving their quality of life and habitat for all life.
- To connect individuals with each other in service to the environment, thereby building community.
- To improve the environment, emphasizing sustainability.
EarthWorks was founded in 1989 and incorporated in 1990. Soon after our founding we 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, we 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. We focus primarily on low-income neighborhoods within the urban core and provide training for those planting and caring for the orchards. In 1998 we published the Urban Fruit Guide, which lists publicly accessible fruit, nuts and berries in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.
Our 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. We 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 addition to our major programs, we conduct nature walks in and around Boston that introduce adults to the surprising diversity of flora, fauna and interesting geological features. Usually each fall our “tour of the orchards” visits some of our orchards where participants learn about fruit trees and sample the harvest. Look for such events in our calendar of events from spring through fall.
Our history also includes such programs as Forest Action, which is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of our forested ecosystems. This program was especially active in the 1990’s when the Wachusett Old Growth Forest was threatened by ski development. From 1990 to 1998 our Transport Action Campaign combined activism and education to reduce dependency on private automobiles and promote the use of environmentally sustainable transportation alternatives.