Growing a Cherished Community Garden

Founders Circle members support a vast array of properties and programs at The Trustees, including the 56 community gardens in Boston under our ownership and management. Overseeing 15 acres across eight neighborhoods, The Trustees is the largest nonprofit owner of community gardens in the city.

Last month, that footprint grew by another 6,000 square feet as The Trustees rebuilt its Winthrop Community Garden in Roxbury, preserving vital open space and greatly expanding the number of garden plots available for residents—from about 4 functional plots to 30—to grow fresh, healthy food.

“Every year we do baseline assessments and rank our gardens in nine different categories like water system quality and soil health. Winthrop was a garden that needed an overhaul, and one where we were able to secure funding to do it,” said Trustees Stewardship Manager Jordan Takvorian. “The garden was adjacent to two vacant city lots, so we were able to work with the city to take over and renovate that space to more than double the size of the garden.”

“The funding for this garden came through Boston CPA funds, the City Grassroots grant issued through the Grow Boston initiative as well as the Celtics Foundation. The garden is a great example of the community impact possible with creative partnerships between the community, the city, the non-profit arm (The Trustees) and corporate foundations,” said Trustees Vice President of Urban Outdoors Vidya Tikku. “I am grateful to Mayor Wu for her leadership and partnership to help increase access to fresh food and the outdoors for Boston residents as well as to the grassroots leaders from the Roxbury community representing the community’s interests with such passion.”

Community meetings were held in late 2020 and early 2021 to gather input on what residents wanted the space to be used for, prior to The Trustees’ acquisition of the adjacent vacant property in September 2022. Starting last fall after the growing season ended, the entire combined lot was rebuilt with new soil, a new watering system, and a total of 30 individual plots—including five raised beds. Trustees Landscape Construction Specialist Josh Hasenfus led the construction as the project manager.

The Trustees hosted a grand re-opening for the garden on Saturday, July 22nd, with gardeners, local officials, funders, and community members in attendance, including former Boston Celtics point guard, and Boston native, Dana Barros.

“This community always looked out for me and protected me, and I am forever grateful for that. Community can do great things—just like this,” Barros said of the revitalized garden.

As part of The Trustees’ efforts to recognize local cultural histories, the redesign of the garden also features a memorial entrance gate, designed by Northeastern assistant professor of architecture Killion Mokwete, that honors the Black Panther Party’s legacy in Boston and contributions to Roxbury. The garden site was once an operating site of the Boston Black Panther Party, who promoted food access and better nutrition for the African American community.

At the grand re-opening, longtime neighborhood residents told stories about the people who founded the garden decades ago, and the impact the garden has had in the community.

“Throughout the whole construction process, there were people who lived there their whole life who said how excited they were to get involved,” Jordan said.

In addition to a place for growing healthy food, the garden serves as a community gathering place, and a space for programming, such as the upcoming High Yield Gardening Workshop being held at the garden on Aug. 28.