A Decade of Digging

A Decade of Digging

By John Wooding
President of Mill City Grows

This year Mill City Grows (MCG) celebrates 10 years of working with the Lowell community to promote food justice, locally grown organic food, and food education. Founded by Francey Slater and Lydia Sisson, MCG has grown from an idea to an organization with 20+ staff, 8 community gardens, 2 urban farms, a mobile grocery, and a teaching kitchen. In 2013 we launched our School Garden Program bringing gardening and nutrition education to more than 8,000 students each year through in-school, after school, and out-of-school curricula. As dynamic outdoor classrooms, school gardens encourage students to work together to seed, nurture, and grow fresh food, and experience the growing cycle of food from seed to plate.

During the past decade we have helped hundreds of community members learn about food and growing vegetables, given them access to their own vegetable beds, and provided high-quality organic food to the community. We have organized seed swaps, educational programs, discussions, harvest festivals, and numerous events supporting food sovereignty and social justice.

This year we celebrate all the work of MCG and its community.

Mill City Grows was founded on the belief that fresh food is a human right. Thanks to you, our staff, partners, and volunteers, over 6 acres of Lowell land has been converted to growing spaces. Thousands of young people and adults are now able to take part in growing their own produce, learning about nutrition, and connecting with our community.

In the coming years we will continue to promote a safe, healthy, and just food system in Lowell. Towards that goal we are also working in partnership with Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust and the Audubon Society to turn the former Rollie Farm into an urban wildlife sanctuary and education center dedicated to local agricultural and community-based environmental education.

We have also just completed a major community food assessment report for Lowell. The Lowell CFA was a collaborative project implemented by Mill City Grows with funding, support, and participation of the REACH LoWELL initiative and the Greater Lowell Health Alliance (GLHA). More than 1,000 Lowell residents were interviewed for the assessment, which evaluated the city’s food system, determined the food security of Lowell residents, and proposed solutions to barriers and challenges to accessing food. A copy of the report can be found here:


There will be a Virtual Roundtable Discussion to discuss the report and its findings on: Thursday, April 21  @  4pm EDT. It will be moderated by Francey Slater and is free & open to the public.  To see more and register, go here: https://www.millcitygrows.org/mcg-guest-panel-series/

We will keep on digging.

For more information about our celebration and all things Mill City Grows, see our web page at: https://www.millcitygrows.org/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MillCityGrows/

John Wooding
President, Mill City Grows

One Response to A Decade of Digging

  1. David Daniel says:

    Thanks for the shout out to Mill City Grows. Their programs were always popular when I had occasion to take students to visit.