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 

Backyard Growers Now Accepting 2021 Community Garden Applications

Gardeners harvesting fresh vegetables at Willowood Community Garden

Backyard Growers‘ Community Garden Applications are now open for the 2021 growing season. Come grow your own vegetables in a community garden at Burnham’s Field, McPherson Park, Pond View Village, Poplar Park, Riverdale, or Willowood. Gardeners receive a raised garden bed, access to a garden mentor, and free or subsidized vegetable seeds, seedlings, and gardening and cooking workshops.

Check your eligibility and fill out or download an application here.

Applications are due by March 15.

Prefer to grow your own food at home? Stay tuned for 2021 Backyard Garden Program Applications – coming soon!

Questions? Email or call (978)-281-0480.

Shop for a cause – new discounts in Backyard Growers Holiday Shop

All curated gift sets are now 15% off in the Backyard Growers Online Holiday Pop-Up Shop! Shop pre-made gift sets for a one-stop shop for stocking stuffers for kiddos and delightful goodies for the gardener in your life.

Plus, don’t miss out on our custom coffee blend Brew Good, Do Good, brewed with our pals (and neighbors) at Breakwater Roasters.

The shop will be open until midnight on Tuesday, 12/22, for a Wednesday, 12/23, contactless pick-up. Proceeds support our school, community, and backyard garden programs.

Virtual Workshop: DIY Edible Gifts

Join Backyard Growers on Zoom for a hands-on demo of a seasonal simple syrup and festive snacks that are perfect for last-minute foodie holiday gifts, or just a tasty treat for you!

When: Thursday, December 17, 5:30-6:15pm
Where: Zoom
Tickets: $15 general admission / $7.50 for 2019 & 2020 participants in Backyard Growers’ backyard and community garden programs

At this interactive virtual workshop, attendees will learn how to whip up:

🍹 a cranberry-spiced syrup for use in a festive margarita, seasonal cider, or a holiday limeade,

✨ cinnamon citrus sugar salt for a margarita or mocktail glass rim, or a topping for popcorn,

🎁 delicious savory homemade cheese crackers

Ticket purchasers will receive ingredient lists, recipes, and gift-wrap recommendations ahead of time in case they want to prepare gifts and cook together during the workshop – or, just join us to be merry and enjoy a fun evening together, with the chance to ask questions.

Proceeds support Backyard Growers’ work connecting kids, seniors, and families to the resources they need to grow their own food at schools, in backyards, and at community gardens.

The workshop will be led by Cecily McAndrews, editor and food writer with experience writing for outlets including Food Network Magazine, Rachael Ray In Season, and Pioneer Woman Magazine. She has degrees from the Institute for Culinary Education and Mount Holyoke College. Currently, she edits cookbooks at Callisto Media, bakes whenever she can, and contemplates what to make for dinner.

Shop for a cause at Backyard Growers’ Online Holiday Pop-Up Shop!

❄ Our Annual Holiday Pop-Up Shop is OPEN for the season! And, this year, it’s all online, so you can shop for a cause from the comfort of your own home 🙌🏽 Explore unique veggie-themed, garden- and nature-inspired goodies for all your family and friends, while supporting a great cause.

Proceeds support Backyard Growers‘ community, backyard, and school garden programs, connecting kids, seniors, and families to healthy, fresh produce by teaching people to grow their own food.

A Shop sneak peek:

Click here to shop!

Curbside pick-up only.

The Shop is open through December 22 🎁

Backyard Growers is hiring!

Backyard Growers is seeking a full-time Program Coordinator to join our small but mighty team and manage our school and community gardens in Gloucester.

Are you (or is someone you know!) a dynamic people person with vegetable farming and/or urban agriculture experience who is passionate about connecting communities, bringing diverse populations together, and honoring different perspectives? If so, this role could be a great fit!

Check it out here, apply by 12/6/2020, and help Backyard Growers continue to connect seniors, kids, and families to the resources they need to grow their own food! 💚

You’re invited to the 5th Annual Great Gloucester GrowDown – now virtual!

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This year, Backyard Growers‘ annual fall fundraiser, the Great Gloucester GrowDown, has gone virtual for the safety of our awesome community. At a time when more than one in five American households is experiencing food insecurity, our mission to empower people with the resources they need to grow some of their own food is more important than ever before. The GrowDown is raising funds for our essential work putting fresh produce on families’ tables through school, community, and backyard gardens.

Join us for a “party to go”, featuring…

🍅 Three-course pick-up picnic dinners for guests to enjoy in their own homes or picnic spot of choice, prepared by the incredible chefs at Short & Main using fresh, local ingredients from North Shore producers, and featuring a take-out signature cocktail

🥕 Incredible desserts from local bakeries Sandpiper Bakery and Mayflour Cake + Confections

🎬 A digital movie premiere exploring how we’ve been responding to our community’s food access needs during the pandemic – meet our gardeners, learn the impact of Backyard Growers’ programs, and see how our team pivoted to provide gardening resources, tools, support, and more, in a rapidly changing global health crisis

Curbside pick-up times for meals, as well as information on how to access our movie premiere, will be provided following ticket purchase.

Click here to learn more and purchase your tickets.

Thank you to our generous sponsors…

$2500 GD sponsors

Additional GD sponsors (3)

A blog from Backyard Growers: what you should be doing in the garden right now


🥕 Check out the latest blog post from Backyard Growers‘ founder & executive director Lara Lepionka, where she’s sharing guidance on what you should be doing in your veggie garden NOW, and the three attributes of a successful vegetable gardener during the pandemic growing season 🌿🍅🦋  Happy growing!

Here’s an excerpt:

“Don’t forget to mulch around your veggies to keep the weeds down and the soil moist. Thin your carrots. Those tomato seedlings look small now, but they will soon take over so stake or cage them now. Eat your spinach before the leaf miners wreak havoc or before it bolts in the heat. There’s nothing sadder than a bolting spinach. Nothing.

As we move forward into the heart of the growing season and into the great ridiculous unknown, I would like to share with you what I think are the top three attributes of a successful vegetable gardener during the pandemic growing season.”

Click here to read on.