3 Funky Grassroots Organizations for Somerville Kids

These three unique groups can teach your child how to grow tomatoes, build a lightsaber or play the trumpet through fun, often free, activities.

Somerville is a fun and funky home to artists, musicians, urban farmers, festivals, and makers and creators of all stripes. Whether your children want to learn to garden, build a lightsaber or play in a brass band, there’s an organization in Somerville just for them. These groups – Groundwork Somerville, Parts and Crafts, and School of HONK – provide unique enrichment activities to kids and families in the community. The programs offered are free, inexpensive, or on a sliding scale to give everyone the chance to participate.

Groundwork Somerville
Ages: Elementary, middle, high school and college students.

Cost: Free. Kids and teens can even get paid for participating in select programs.

Programs: Green Team, National Park Preservers, Schoolyard Garden Classrooms, Garden Youth Crew, Maple Syrup Project, plus other special events and activities.

About: Groundwork Somerville is part of a national organization, but the work it does is hyper-local. The nonprofit focuses on educating urban children about the environment through hands-on activities that empower them and teach leadership skills. 

The Green Team is Groundwork’s youth employment program, which selects about 20 Somerville teens each spring, summer and fall to help maintain the city’s urban farms, school gardens and park projects. The participants ride around the city on bikes and harvest produce to be sold at the local farmers markets and for local food relief organizations. The Green Team works a few days per week and is paid an hourly wage. There is also a Garden Youth Crew for kids entering grades 7-9 who want to get the Green Team experience but are too young to participate.

All children in elementary and middle school in Somerville have the opportunity to participate in the year-round Schoolyard Garden Classrooms program. Kids can participate in both in-school and after-school programs where they learn to garden, cook with the food they harvest, and get to connect traditional subjects with hands-on learning experiences.

One of the most fun Groundwork programs is the Maple Syrup Project, which includes harvesting syrup from trees on the Tufts University campus and a big boil down at the Community Growing Center. Everyone is welcome and kids seem to particularly enjoy the activities.

Image courtesy of Dina Gjertsen/Parts and Crafts.

Parts and Crafts
Ages: Most activities are geared to 7- to 13-year olds, but other ages are often welcome too.

Cost: Some activities are free, many are low-cost and there is a sliding scale so everyone who wants to participate has the opportunity.

Programs: Saturday Open Shop, Vacation and Summer Camps, Afterschool Workshops, School Alternative, Movie Nights, Game Days and more.

About: Parts and Crafts was founded five years ago as a makerspace geared toward kids. The organization has a plethora of programs that all work within a few common themes, like making technology accessible, promoting autonomous learning and economic accessibility, and cultivating a feeling of welcome and whimsy.

Every Saturday, Parts and Parts hosts Open Shop where families are welcome to come in and create, either within the frame of that day’s workshop or on a project of their own. Open Shop is free or by donation and some of the past workshops include lightsaber building, fimo sculpting, pyrotechnics and mosaics. 

During school breaks, including summer vacation, Parts and Crafts offers a variety of camps that are much like the open shops, with kids and teens working on projects, often within specific themes. Parts and Crafts Afterschool Workshops focus on a different theme each day: electronics, textiles, computer club, woodworking and games. All programs are offered on a sliding payment scale.

Photo courtesy of Leonardo March/School of HONK.

School of HONK
Ages: All ages, most participants in the After-School Program are 3rd-6th graders.

Cost: Some activities are free, others are offered on a sliding scale.

Programs: Sunday Weekly Meet-Up and Parade, After-School Program and Camp HONK.

About: School of HONK came out of the HONK! Festival of activist street bands that’s held in Somerville every October. School of HONK aims to bring that fun, festive, musical spirit to the area throughout the year. Many activities are free and open to all ages, including children, and some are offered on a sliding scale and are specifically geared toward kids.

Every Sunday, School of HONK meets up at different locations in Somerville for a musical parade around the city. All ages are welcome and children are encouraged to attend. All ability levels are welcome and participants are encouraged to learn through the lively, spontaneous music sessions.

School of HONK also hosts an After-School Program at the Amigos School in Cambridge that consists mostly of 3rd-6th graders, but older middle school students are encouraged to attend. The sessions take place on Thursday afternoons from 3pm-4:15pm and are offered on a sliding scale. The Somerville After-School Program is looking to restart in April.

In the summer, kids can attend Camp HONK, a two-week morning camp in July that instructs campers on music basics and playing music like the brass bands that participate in the HONK! Festival.

Top image shows Groundwork Somerville's Green Team harvesting produce at the South Street Farm.

Groundwork Somerville
24 Park St. #7
02143 Somerville , MA 42° 22' 54.768" N, 71° 6' 23.0076" W
Parts and Crafts
577 Somerville Ave.
02144 Somerville , MA 42° 23' 1.8744" N, 71° 6' 30.5064" W
School of HONK After-School Program
5 Upton St.
02139 Cambridge , MA 42° 21' 45.0072" N, 71° 6' 28.5372" W