Congratulations Heather: honored today at the 2010 YWCA Tribute to Women!

YWCA Tribute to WomenThanks to Marc Lemay for the photo

The staff of Groundwork Lawrence would like to congratulate our Executive Director, Heather McMann who was one of almost 30 women honored today for making "exemplary contributions to business and community" in the greater Lawrence area. We know how great she is, so it was fun to see her among such fantastic and inspiring women of the greater Lawrence area. Former Executive Director Maggie Super-Church was also honored.

The awards luncheon also serves as an important fundraiser for the greater Lawrence
YWCA with proceeds going to support the over 21 programs offered in their Women’s and Youth Service divisions and this year highlighted the young girls in the Science Technology Engineering and Math program.

Thank you to the YWCA for all you do for the greater Lawrence area and congrats to Heather!

Thanks to all who came to see FRESH last night!

Groundwork Lawrence had the opportunity to host a community screening of FRESH last night, an inspiring documentary highlighting some of the individuals who are striving for positive and sustainable change in our nation's current food system. Following the film, we got to hear from a couple of our own local heroes, who are working to better the environment and the health of our community. Farmer Dave Dumaresq and Bethany Bellingham, both of Farmer Dave’s of Dracut, spoke about their enthusiasm for farming, the importance of the community-supported agriculture model (GWL partners with Farmer Dave’s to offer this in Lawrence!), and their commitment to getting much of their produce into the hands of the needy and hungry. Dr. Jeff Geller and Dr. Evan Teplow from the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center also spoke about their work with residents of Greater Lawrence who are struggling with diet-related diseases. Both run pediatric or family obesity support groups and strive to give their patients hands-on experiences with fresh, local food and encourage healthy food choices. Thanks to these presenters, our fabulous film, and all those who attended, we had a thought-provoking discussion which we hope will continue in future events.

We are also pleased to announce that attendees donated $375 to our Share-a-Share Program, which raises funds to subsidize the cost of CSA shares for those with financial hardship, brining us to a total of $3,030 raised to-date. Thank you to all who donated! Your support helps us keep this fabulous program running! Thank you also to Butcher Boy Marketplace and Whole Foods for donating some delicious food for last night’s event, and to the Sidell and Yepez families for donating the use of their great space!

If you were unable to attend the event and wanted to, you can still donate to Share-a-Share by visiting our donate page. If you would like to see the film, please visit the FRESH website, to find out where the next community screening close to you will be, and please let us know if this is the type of event that you would like to attend in the future!

Movie night-GWL hosting screening of "Fresh!"

Come join us for movie night! Screening of Fresh!

For anyone who is interested, Groundwork Lawrence will be hosting a community screening of Fresh, a film that celebrates folks all around the country who are working to better our nation's food system. This screening will be a fundraiser for our Share-a-Share program, with $10 suggested donation. Food and discussion and a great film...what could be better?

Wednesday, May 12th at Chester's (60 Island Street, Lawrence) from 6-8 pm. Thank you to Butcher Boy and the Sidell and Yepez Families for sponsoring this event.

We need to keep voting EVERY DAY in May and we get an orchard!

Keep voting for an Orchard in Lawrence!

vacant lotTurn this into an orchard

With your help, we're in 4th place and now we need you (and your networks) to please keep voting every day to bring a fruit orchard to Lawrence!

Communities Take Root has given 5 orchards to the top 5 in the first round, so now we're up to 4th place! Congratulations to those winners! To to keep us in the top five by June1 vote daily and we will be selected to receive a fruit orchard!

Visit Communities Take Root today and vote (you'll have to use the map or index to find our entry-we're the only one in Massachusetts), and click it every day from now through the month of May! Please be patient with their security measures-we appreciate it!

Communities Take Root is giving away 5 orchards each month from May 1 to September 1, we didn't win the first round, but have a good chance of getting the orchard this round in May-we're in 4th!

Post to your Facebook and Twitter pages if you use them!

MIT@Lawrence Spring Practicum Presentation - Focus on Canals and Alleyways in Lawrence

The MIT@Lawrence Team for 2010 would like to cordially invite you to the final public meeting of the MIT student led study into the alleys and canals in Lawrence, MA. Mayor William Lantigua has agreed to join us and we hope you can join us as well.

The presentation will be held Tuesday May 4 at the Main branch of the Lawrence Public Library in the "Auditorium" located at 51 Lawrence St.
Sign in and conversations will start at 5:30 and the presentations will begin at 6pm.

Groundwork Lawrence's CSA & Share-a-Share Program Highlighted in Eagle Tribune Today!

Earlier this month the Eagle Tribune ran a story written by reporter J.J. Huggins entitled "Community Supported Agriculture allows people to buy directly from farms," which mentioned Groundwork Lawrence's CSA and Farmer Dave's among other area CSAs (click here for the full story).

In response to that article, we wrote a letter to the editor, explaining some of the efforts Groundwork Lawrence is making to fight hunger and diet-related disease and to make the CSA affordable to everyone. We were thrilled to see this letter published in today's paper! Read the full story below.

For anyone who is interested, Groundwork Lawrence will be hosting a community screening of Fresh, a film that celebrates folks all around the country who are working to better our nation's food system. This screening will be a fundraiser for our Share-a-Share program, with $10 suggested donation. Food and discussion and a great film...what could be better? Wednesday, May 12th at Chester's (60 Island Street, Lawrence) from 6-8 pm.

Letter: Community agriculture fights hunger, disease

To the editor:

Thank you for the recent article titled "Uprooting the middleman: Community supported agriculture lets people buy directly."As manager of Groundwork Lawrence's CSA (one of the CSA programs mentioned in the article), which is run in partnership with Farmer Dave's of Dracut, I often hear people praise the CSA model, while simultaneously and understandably bemoaning the significant up-front financial investment on the part of the customer. In hopes of combating this, Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) has come up with several ways to ensure that the high-quality, farm-fresh produce offered in the CSA program is accessible to as many members of our community as possible.

In 2008, GWL established a fund to subsidize the cost of CSA shares to individuals and families experiencing financial hardship. Through this Share-a-Share program, individuals, churches, corporations, and foundations can make a tax-deductible donation to help us extend the benefits of the CSA to those who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

Last year, thanks to the generosity of 2009 CSA members and the greater GWL community, we were able to raise $3,000 for the Share-a-Share program; this funding was used to buy food for several Lawrence families and countless individuals through the Neighbors In Need (NIN) food pantries, who dispersed over 5,700 pounds of donated fresh produce to those in need. GWL's partnership with NIN meant that the individuals and families who rely on food pantries to meet their daily food needs received fresh produce in their pantry bags in addition to the canned and boxed goods they typically receive.

In addition to the Share-a-Share program, GWL's CSA also accepts SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) for payment of CSA shares. GWL works with SNAP beneficiaries to set up an affordable payment plan often combined with a subsidy made possible by the Share-a-Share Program.

Lastly, even for those who do not receive SNAP, GWL offers payment plan options, striving to make the CSA a possibility for all members of our community, despite income level.

Fresh, healthy produce is one of the simplest and most effective defenses against the diet-related diseases so prevalent amongst low-income families in Lawrence. Studies show that rates of Type II diabetes in Lawrence are 76 percent higher than those observed more widely across the state, while coronary heart disease and obesity also plague this population.

Moreover, fresh, healthy produce is a nutritious way to combat the staggering rates of hunger in Lawrence. Compared with more affluent residents, low-income Lawrencians face a persistent need for food, or assistance to meet their daily food needs; while one in seven Lawrence families is a SNAP/Food Stamp recipient, several hundreds more qualify for but don't receive them; in sixteen low-income areas of Lawrence, one child in three lives in a family unable to meet its basic need for food, and the prevalence of hunger can be nearly six times greater than the statewide average; and 82 percent of Lawrence children enrolled in school are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of Groundwork Lawrence's CSA or interested in helping us provide healthy, fresh food to Lawrence's low-income families, can learn more and make a donation to the Share-a-Share program by visiting, or calling 978-974-0770.

Janel Wright

Groundwork Lawrence


Thanks to all 400 volunteers who made a Great Earth Day in Lawrence!

Earth Day 2010

What a day! 400 volunteers all over the City of Lawrence picked up trash, raked leaves, built garden beds, planted flowers, planted trees and celebrated the Earth and Lawrence. We'd like to thank Comcast for all of their volunteer and logistics support and for making Lawrence a part of Comcast Cares Day- a national day of service by the Comcast Cable Company.


*THANK YOU to all our supporters and sponsors: City of Lawrence, City of Lawrence DPW and Recycling, Comcast, Allied Waste, Covanta Energy, Lawrence General Hospital, Sal's Pizza, Jackson Lumber, and Whole Foods!!

A big thanks and "Job Well Done" goes to volunteers from Comcast, Lawrence Senior Center, Community Day Charter School, The City of Lawrence DPW, The City of Lawrence, Lawrence High School, Lawrence General Hospital, Kohls, and Northern Essex Community College.

If you would like to still volunteer, maybe the park near your house or business needs some attention, please call Kathryn at Groundwork Lawrence. We have supplies of trash bags and gloves for folks to use and if necessary some rakes or shovels to borrow. Maybe you have a crew of individuals who would like to do weekly cleanups like our friends at the Plus Company, but you're not sure where to start. Please give us a call!


Pictures from the day below and on Flickr.
P4240070 IMG_1787IMG_1801

NPS announces next round of Groundwork Pilot Funding and Technical Assistance

We are pleased to announce that the next round of Groundwork USA Pilot Funding and Technical Assistance has just been posted by the National Park Service on the federal grants website. You can find the full announcement and how to apply by using the announcement number NPS-10WASO-00001 in box labeled ‘Search by Funding Opportunity Number.’

If a community is interested in pursuing this opportunity, they should access the announcement on to become familiar with the website and sign-up for email notifications of any supplemental information being posted, if any. Attached are instructions for accessing the announcement on The due date for the initial letters of interest is June 16, 2010.

About the program: NPS provides the technical assistance to the successful applicant(s) in partnership with Groundwork USA. NPS also awards the financial assistance to successful applicant(s) and administers the assistance agreements. The EPA provides NPS with the funds for this program under an Interagency Agreement. All projects and activities of Groundwork are carried out through a creative mix of staff and volunteers to leverage resources and engage businesses and residents in the transformation of their own communities. Please note that a community must have received or be receiving funding from the EPA Brownfields Program to be eligible for the Groundwork USA Initiative.

Congresswoman Tsongas introduces bipartisan legislation to help urban communities develop public parks and green space

Press Release From Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts Fifth Congressional District

Contact John Noble phone: 202.225.3411

WASHINGTON, DC – April 22, 2010 – On Earth Day, Fifth District Congresswoman Niki Tsongas introduced legislation which would help urban communities turn blighted environments and brownfields sites into public parks or other usable green spaces. Tsongas’ bipartisan bill, entitled the Groundwork USA Trust Act of 2010, would strengthen the existing Groundwork USA (GWUSA) program, which provides federal funding to local communities and nonprofit organizations for green-space projects. The idea for the legislation was developed with Groundwork Lawrence, a nonprofit organization in Lawrence which has had several projects funded through the program, including the construction of community gardens, riverfront trails, and playgrounds. Groundwork USA is also a proven job creation tool. In economically challenged cities, the 17 GWUSA Trusts have created 131 full - or part-time jobs.

“Creating green-space and public parks in urban communities is an excellent way to revitalize neighborhoods and further economic development in our cities,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “Older cities, like those in the Merrimack Valley that I represent, are often forced to cope with blighted landscapes at former industrial sites. The City of Lawrence has worked extensively with Groundwork Lawrence to transform blighted areas of the city into usable community space. However, GWUSA has the potential to reach far more communities and have an even greater positive impact than its current structure allows and that is why I have introduced this legislation today.”

Currently, GWUSA receives funding for green-space projects, known as Trusts, through the EPA and National Park Service. However, funding for Groundwork projects can be sporadic and unreliable, leading to a long back-log of proposals from communities that meet the necessary requirements for support and will greatly benefit our communities but which ultimately go unfunded. Tsongas’ legislation would create a dedicated funding stream to ensure continued support of the Groundwork USA program and provide stability for the program, and the impressive organizations it supports, by centralizing its administration through the National Parks Service.

Under Tsongas’ bill, the Groundwork USA Trust Program would provide grants of up to $400,000 to local communities for development programs that address brownfields and blighted urban environments. The total authorization would be $15 million for each fiscal year through FY2015, which would allow Groundwork USA to produce 5-8 new Trusts each year. Last year alone, every dollar that the EPA invested in GWUSA projects was leveraged to $15 by local Trusts.

“This legislation is extremely valuable to Lawrence as it will support our efforts to leverage public, private, and foundation dollars to continue our urban revitalization efforts in Lawrence,” said Heather McMann, Executive Director of Groundwork Lawrence. “As Groundwork Lawrence prepares to celebrate its 10th year anniversary we are excited by the momentum to reclaim vacant lots for community and schoolyard gardens, design and build pedestrian and bike trails reclaiming the City’s alleyways and three rivers, and tackling climate change through tree plantings.”

Since 2001, Groundwork Lawrence has completed over $6 million in public open space improvement projects while receiving only $240,000 in seed funding: a $24 to $1 ratio. Most importantly, 100% of these projects have taken place in Lawrence’s lowest-income environmental neighborhoods.

Joining Congresswoman Tsongas in introducing the legislation today are Reps. Alberto Sires (D-NJ), Joseph Cao (R-LA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

Groundwork USA is a network of nearly twenty independent, non-profit community development organizations called Groundwork 'Trusts' that are linked together as the Groundwork USA national network. GWUSA Trusts encourage a sense of common purpose and engage residents in giving back to their community. In 2009, GWUSA Trusts engaged residents in over 57,000 hours of volunteer service in their neighborhoods, and involved nearly 400 businesses in their work to improve their communities.