Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN, merged into the Trustees of Reservations since 2014) first began working with community gardens in 1982, in an effort to preserve Boston’s inner city green space, which was rapidly disappearing as a result of increased development pressures. Since its act of initially taking ownership to save 16 threatened gardens, BNAN acquired 54 gardens in underserved neighborhoods, with the total now at 56 under The Trustees ownership.
Several of the Boston community gardens began as guerilla gardens in the Seventies, with neighbors coming together to transform abandoned lots into productive, thriving green spaces. Others arose from partnerships between local residents and urban gardening nonprofits. All are now loving tended by gardeners and permanently protected by The Trustees.
Since merging with BNAN, The Trustees has become the largest single-entity owner of community gardens in Boston. The Trustees has become the leading garden support organization in the city, expanding its role to provide technical assistance, support, and advocacy for all gardens across the city. Within these constantly evolving roles, The Trustees provides a wide range of services that ensure the vitality of the community garden system.
As a community garden owner, The Trustees preserves open space, and serves as a model of ownership to other community gardening entities, promoting strong organizational structures and the use of high-quality, durable, and aesthetically-pleasing materials. As a clearinghouse for information and a provider of technical assistance, The Trustees provides support free of charge to all community gardens in the metropolitan area, and serves as a source of information to the public. Through a wide range of courses, workshops, and formal training, The Trustees also offers extensive hands-on horticultural education programs for gardeners of all ages and experience. As a citywide convener of gardeners, The Trustees brings together gardeners from across the city to share and disseminate information, resolve issues, and advocate system-wide for garden protection, services, and other matters.