Backyard Growers’ May Seedling Sale now OPEN

It’s TOMATO TIME! 🍅 The Backyard Growers May Seedling Sale is now live! Click here to shop for a cause and purchase wamth-loving vegetable seedlings grown by our friends at Cedar Rock Gardens. We also carry Black Earth Compost, Neptune’s Harvest, our own custom GrowBags, and more.

Proceeds support Backyard Growers’ work connecting our community with the resources to grow their own food. All orders available for curbside pickup only on Friday, May 21, 10am – 1pm at 44 Commercial Street, Gloucester 🌿

Redefining Heritage: Garbage to Gardens

Hosted by Essex National Heritage Area, join three Essex County agriculture experts to learn about the history of sustainable growing and the future of healthy soils.

Essex County has a long history of agriculture, with some of the oldest working farms in the country still operating today. There is also a deep-rooted tradition of individual and community gardening that has seen a rise in interest during the social isolation of the current pandemic. Creating healthy soils and sustainable landscapes not only for large, established farms, but for backyard gardeners is essential, and something that the speakers in this session will focus on. Join Jennifer Core, Director of Agriculture for The Trustees, Andrew Brousseau, Partner and Compost Manager for Black Earth Compost, and Lara Lepionka, Founder and Executive Director of Backyard Growers, to learn the history of farming in Essex County, the science of soil, and how those interested in starting their own sustainable garden can begin.

Following the presentation, there will be a moderated Q&A. Live captions are available during this presentation.

Click here to register.

Backyard Growers online workshop: How to Plan Your Vegetable Garden

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
📍 Zoom

Join Backyard Growers for this online training to learn how to plan your own vegetable garden according to what you like to eat, the space you have for growing, and the amount of time you have to spend tending to it. In this training, attendees will be introduced to the square-foot gardening method to help them make the most of their garden this year. It includes an interactive Q&A, so come with any and all veggie-growing questions! This is the final occurence of this training for the 2021 growing season.

🙌🏽 FREE to Backyard Growers Program participants (e.g., Community Garden Program and 2020 & 2021 Backyard Garden Program)

👉🏾 $15 General Admission.

Click here to purchase tickets or reserve your spot.

Thank you to our Cultivator and Harvester Sponsors for making this event possible:

Shop for a cause and buy your cold-tolerant veggie seedlings from Backyard Growers

The Backyard Growers Online Shop is now OPEN for our April Seedling Sale, and chock full of cold-tolerant veggie seedlings like kale, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard, and more, organically-grown by our friends at Cedar Rock Gardens.

The Sale also includes other supplies to get your garden going this spring, like Black Earth Compost, Neptune’s Harvest fertilizer, and a range of vegetable and flower seeds. Start (or expand!) your own container veggie garden with our felt custom GrowBags.

Proceeds support nonprofit organization Backyard Growers‘ programs in the community connecting families, seniors, and kids with the resources to grow their own food.

The fine print: The 2021 April Seedling Sale is online only for curbside pickup only next Saturday, April 24. The shop will close at noon on Thursday, April 22, to allow time for us to prep your orders.

Happy Growing!

Backyard Growers hiring full-time Garden Educator

About Us:  Backyard Growers (BYG) is a grassroots community-based organization in Gloucester, MA. We are a small but mighty group of committed people who love what we do, and have fun while we work hard. Our mission is to cultivate healthy, connected, environmentally sustainable communities and to fight for food justice by teaching people how to grow their own food. BYG provides resources and support to establish vegetable gardens at homes, housing communities, organizations, and schools, and offers learning opportunities in growing and preparing fresh produce. 

We serve public school children and low- to moderate-income residents in Gloucester, and share our program models regionally through a consulting practice to increase our impact. Our goals are to increase access to healthy, affordable foods, mobilize attitude and behavior changes around healthy food choices, reactivate neglected urban spaces through food production, and build community and support self-sufficiency within diverse populations. We believe that by growing our own food, we are empowered, connected, and strengthened. 

About the Garden Educator:  This position is our lead school program staff person responsible for the implementation and execution of all Backyard Growers’ School Program activities. The Garden Educator also supports community garden programs with a focus on educational programs, community outreach, volunteer and service population engagement, and physical garden site maintenance. This position reports to the Program Director and works closely with the Program Coordinator.

This role is our lead school garden educator and implements all of Backyard Growers’ school program deliverables. At the elementary school level, this includes Salad Days & Fall Harvest Days—a program that involves growing two crops each year with K-5 students and hosting district-wide harvest celebrations. Job duties also include teaching in-class food systems lessons, leading monthly cafeteria taste tests, and developing special events and initiatives to promote food system literacy and healthy school food culture.

The Garden Educator will deliver our middle school programs at O’Maley Middle School, including our 6th grade Popcorn, 7th grade Wheat, and 8th grade Soil Health programs. Job duties include collaborating with teachers to integrate the school garden into their lessons, designing and leading lessons, and strengthening connections with other academic departments to make the program truly interdisciplinary. This role will be responsible for our pre-school Stone Soup program at Gloucester’s public pre-school and Pathways for Children. This position will also work with Gloucester High School students, staff and administrators on the integration of the high school permaculture garden into student life.

Click here to learn more.

Apply Today! We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Apply by 4/25/21; Tentative start date is Tuesday, June 1, but there is flexibility to start later in June
  • Send resume, cover letter, and contact information for two references to (include “Garden Educator” in the subject line)
  • We will review all submissions, identify viable candidates, and contact only those individuals selected to continue in the search process — No calls please.

Backyard Growers hosts online Lunch & Learn, “Frontyard Growers: Algonquian Farmers of Cape Ann”

Join Backyard Growers and local historian & anthropologist Mary Ellen Lepionka on April 8 at 12 pm for a FREE online Lunch & Learn, Frontyard Growers: Algonquian Farmers of Cape Ann, comparing the practices of indigenous and colonial farmers on Cape Ann during the 17th century. Click here to register for this event and discover:

Who were the indigenous and colonial farmers of Cape Ann? How and where did they plant? What did they grow? How did land pass from Algonquians to colonists on Cape Ann? What role did enslaved people and freed slaves play in the Cape Ann farm economy? Was Dogtown farmed? What can we learn from indigenous growers about conserving land, managing trees, using our soil and water, cultivating crops for food and medicine, preserving harvests, and saving seed? What inspiration can we draw from Algonquian garden designs and community feasting?

Mary Ellen Lepionka of Gloucester is a retired anthropologist, college instructor, author, and textbook editor who embarked on a study of the archaeology and early history of Cape Ann and Essex County from the last Ice Age to around 1700. Her articles on indigenous history here appear in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society and at, and When not researching and writing, Mary Ellen enjoys gardening and is continually inspired by her amazing daughter Lara (Backyard Growers’ founder & executive director) and Backyard Growers.

Thanks to Backyard Growers’ Cultivator & Harvester Sponsors for making this programming possible:

Backyard Growers’ Spring Gardening Workshops & Events Schedule

Spring is here! Backyard Growers is thrilled to welcome the community to a series of Spring Gardening Workshops and Events with the mission of helping more people successfully grow their own fresh, healthy produce this year.

Click here to explore our upcoming events.

Plus, support Backyard Growers’ programs that increase fresh food access among low- to moderate-income families, seniors, and kids through vegetable gardens in backyards, public parks, housing developments, schools, and more. Join us for our virtual fundraiser, a Cook-along with Ken Duckworth on March. 25.

Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

Cook-along with Ken Duckworth – a Virtual Fundraiser for Backyard Growers

When & where: March 25 at 6 pm on Zoom

Tickets: $50. Click here to purchase tickets and learn more. All ticket fees and additional donations are tax deductible. Proceeds support Backyard Growers’ programs connecting low- to moderate-income households to fresh produce through school, backyard, and community gardens.

Join us for a LIVE virtual cook-along and fundraiser for Backyard Growers with Ken Duckworth. Ken is a renowned local chef and restaurateur. Since landing in Gloucester from Boston 16 years ago to open Duckworth’s Bistrot, Ken and his wife Nicole have created community at their restaurant through their relationships with their customers and partnerships with local farmers, fishers, and makers.

In this interactive cooking class, Ken will demonstrate how to prepare fish cakes with remoulade sauce inspired by Gloucester’s seafood traditions and the freshest ingredients.

Cook alongside Ken at home and enjoy a question and answer session with this seasoned chef. You will not need any fancy, specialized equipment or prior experience to take part in this interactive class. Attendees will receive a link to join the class as well as recipes and an ingredient list. Please consider shopping for your ingredients at Common Crow (200 Eastern Ave., Gloucester), a generous Backyard Growers partner.

Gardening workshop: How to start seeds indoors

Join Backyard Growers for the virtual garden workshop “How to Start Seeds Indoors” and learn how to start your own seeds this spring. In this workshop, you’ll learn the benefits of starting seeds indoors, what you need to be successful at starting your own indoor nursery, and how to care for your seedlings from seed to garden. The event includes an interactive Q&A and demonstration.

When: March 11, 7 – 8pm

Where: Zoom

Tickets: FREE for Backyard Garden Program participants. $15 general admission. Ticket sales support Backyard Growers’ school, community, and backyard garden programs. Click here to reserve your spot or purchase a ticket.

Collaborative Public Art Projects to Reinvigorate Gloucester in 2021 Thanks to Funding from Essex County Community Foundation

Projects include Agri-Culture, led by Gloucester-based food access and urban agriculture nonprofit Backyard Growers

Gloucester, Mass., February 18, 2021 – After a long winter in isolation, the Gloucester community will come to life through new public art projects that seek to promote hope, connection, and diversity. Agri-Culture, headed by nonprofit organization Backyard Growers in collaboration with Gloucester Housing Authority and Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, is just one of six new collaborative public art and creative placemaking projects being funded by Essex County Community Foundation’s Creative County Initiative (CCI). Launched in 2018 through a partnership with the Barr Foundation, CCI is designed to elevate arts, culture and the creative economy in Essex County. 

Agri-Culture is a project that will use storytelling, multimedia arts, and a participatory design process to create dynamic spaces in and around the community garden managed by Backyard Growers at Willowood Park, a Gloucester Housing Authority development on Maplewood Avenue in Gloucester.

“We are thrilled to forge this expanded partnership with Gloucester Housing Authority and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce aimed at connecting and celebrating the voices of diverse communities in Gloucester through public art,” said Lara Lepionka, Executive Director of Backyard Growers. “We are also pleased to be in such good company with LuminArtz, which is leading the other Gloucester-based project funded through CCI in this selective round.”

 “The idea of creating a space where anyone and everyone can access art and culture is paramount to our vision for Essex County,” said CCI Program Director Karen Ristuben. “We were really inspired by these new collaborations, which have not only designed innovative, creative plans to bring people together through art and culture but have also managed to persevere through COVID-19,” added Ristuben. 

“During these difficult times, it is vital that our residents have a sense of hope and transformation, and that our community increase its sense of inclusivity,” said Gloucester Housing Authority Executive Director David Houlden. “Our public art project, Agri-Culture, based in and around the Willowood Community Garden, will bring new energy to the Willowood community using the arts to celebrate diverse cultures and improve healthy food access.”

A second Gloucester project was also funded by CCI called Centuries in the Making, led by LuminArtz. It is a project which brings the iconic fishermen’s and fishermen’s wives’ memorial statues in Gloucester to life through art technology and sound effects. These two new Gloucester-based projects will join an already impressive list of CCI-funded public art projects that have successfully mobilized collaborations of nonprofits, artists, municipalities and local businesses to transform their communities through art. For more information about ECCF’s work in arts and culture, please visit


About Backyard Growers

Backyard Growers is a grassroots organization that connects people and communities through access to healthy food. Founded in 2010, its community programs and award-winning school programs have connected thousands of people to the resources to grow their own food. Learn more about Backyard Growers and its work in schools, public parks, and housing developments at

About ECCF

The mission of Essex County Community Foundation is to inspire philanthropy that strengthens the communities of Essex County. We do this by managing charitable assets, strengthening and supporting nonprofits and engaging in strategic community leadership. Since 1998, ECCF and its family of 250 charitable funds have granted $85 million to nonprofits, schools and students in Essex County and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to have 34 thriving cities and towns in Essex County and to improve the quality of life for the region’s nearly 800,000 residents. Learn more at