Purpose and Promise: Boston Community Grown Program Is Set to Bloom in 2019

March 21, 2019 - Our Communities New England

Purpose and Promise is a series featuring stories that bring The Ready Commitment to life #TheReadyCommitment.

It's time to shed those heavy winter coats and bulky sweaters in Boston as spring arrives. This year will be even more special as city residents can look forward to an expanding Community Grown: Art and Design in the Gardens program.

The program highlights the role of community gardens through dinners, storytelling and community conversations, performances, and interactive play. Its overall goal is to make the gardens more relevant to a wider group of residents.

This will be the second year of a three year commitment from TD Bank to fund a $225,000 grant. The Bank is partnering with The Trustees, which operates 56 community gardens in the city, and the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), which, through its Public Space Invitational competition, sought ideas last year for innovative design installations for three gardens. MONUM will be announcing details for this year's competition in April.

"I am proud that Boston is home to more than 10,000 gardeners and 200 community gardens spanning 50 acres across our city," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "This City is lucky to have great partners like The Trustees, TD Bank, and dedicated members of our community to help advance the state of our public spaces by incorporating community driven design projects like this. Together, with our communities, we are making Boston a place where the gardening community can flourish."

TD Bank Partnership enables Community Grown Program to flower

After partnering with TD Bank in 2018, the Community Grown program engaged 2,235 people, nearly 20% over the previous year, according to The Trustees. This improvement is due to having the capacity to both run more garden programs and expand program outreach by 57%, including 33 Seed, Sow & Grow programs. The program also partnered with the Community Grown artist teams to run an additional 12 programs.

Bob Follansbee is a gardener at Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester, which hosted the Celebrate + Activate and Cross-Pollination art projects.

"Working in the garden and enjoying the surroundings is rewarding enough by itself, but it is nice to have other activities that elaborate on garden values and principles, celebrate the diversity that is part of Nightingale," he said.

The Celebrate + Activate project used participatory theater and hand-made flags to bring new life to the shade structure and gathering space at Nightingale Garden. The Cross-Pollination project featured an innovative combination of native plants for pollinator support, poems and stories composed by gardeners, and beautiful portable shade structures.

In 2018, the Trailer Made team created a solar-powered, towable, and modular community gathering space that relies on locally sourced and recycled materials. It featured an events space with a platform, tables, and chairs, games, arts and crafts, educational panels with chalkboards, and lighting for events.

The project was initially placed at the Fenway Victory Gardens, but made its way to Chilcott & Granada Community Garden and the Nightingale Community Garden.

"There were so many people who stopped by from the community who saw the Trailer in the gardens and ended up joining the potluck, according to Andrea Fossa, one of the artists who created Trailer Made.

"Talking to many of them, they had lived in the area but never been to the garden before, until they saw the installation," she said.

Hopes that participation will increase in 2019

With a year’s experience and more time to plan and promote, we hope to increase those participation numbers even more in the second year of the partnership, according to the Trustees.

"We are honored to play a part in helping Bostonians elevate the vitality of urban green spaces and community gardening for generations to come, including those in the city's most underserved neighborhoods," said Joseph Doolan, TD Bank's Head of Environment and Community Partnerships. "This year, we look forward to introducing even more residents to their neighborhood oasis -- the community garden --and enhancing the well-being of their entire eco-system, including their social connections and health." 


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