What’s Connection Lab’s favorite thing to do? Collaborative art in the interest of public health! And what does a community garden need to make it appealing in the winter as well as in the summer? A mural? Yes! We’ve done that. What else?… Frost-proof mosaics!

Groundwork Somerville maintains learning gardens at many of the elementary schools in Somerville. At the East Somerville Community School the central courtyard has a 26-bed garden and the beds need numbers that can withstand the seasons. At the Argenziano school the garden needs pavers so that kids can walk through the center of the bed to reach plants on both sides.

And the Beautiful Stuff Project (check out their Facebook post about the project) has glass tiles generously donated by Artaic.  Put it all together and you get the potential for some wonderful collaborative art, youth development, community engagement and community service. And the gardens, in turn, are used to expose youth to fruits and vegetables, encourage outdoor activity and make learning even more fun.

Last week we brought mosaic supplies to the first group of designers- a group of youth at the Connexions Church Freedom School summer program. About 20 kids ranging in age from kindergarten to fifth grade designed and prepared two of the garden bed numbers for their neighborhood school.



And as always, some people found their groove sorting tiles by color (my favorite part of the process too!)


We’ve been debating about what type of thinset to use to set the tiles on pavers. In theory (and in practice in my front yard lizard mosaic) a regular cement-based thinset adhesive works through the winter but yesterday we learned about a product called flexbond that is supposed to crack even less during winter freeze-thaw cycles. We’ll cross our fingers and see how it goes! Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find any pre-mixed versions that are crack-resistant.  Stay tuned to see how the project unfolds.