A recently awarded $6 million grant will support renovations and expanded food access at the 56 community gardens managed by The Trustees, spread across eight Boston neighborhoods.
The anonymous grant is a transformational opportunity for our community gardens, which total more than 1,600 plots and feed approximately 8,000 people each year. The funds will be used for capital improvements to and maintenance of existing gardens, as well as construction of new garden sites, potentially in Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, or East Boston. As the largest owner of gardens in the city, we look forward to this opportunity to respond to the growing demand for fresh, affordable produce, and to branch out into new garden spaces to further connect people to neighbors and nature in their own backyards.
“This generous grant not only allows us to respond to the enormous demand for more garden plots in the city, it improves the quality of life for Boston residents whose reliance on open space has been at the heart of our mission for more than 130 years,” said Interim President and CEO Nicie Panetta. “These gardens aren’t just food sources, they are community hubs that reflect the vibrant culture of their neighborhoods and where people gather in community to share not just the bounty of their harvests, but also the richness of their stories and so many special moments in their lives.”
The cultivation and expansion of these urban community gardens provides more access to green space, allows the food grown to reflect the food, language, and culture of the community, and creates space for cross-cultural interactions and friendships. Food grown in each plot is not sold. It belongs to the gardener or gardeners that tended to it, supplementing family food budgets and sometimes being shared or swapped with other gardeners, friends, and family. Some gardeners donate to local food pantries as well.
This money will help expand the number of plots and opportunities to grow food to offset food budget costs. It will also allow The Trustees to expand hybrid programming, which currently reaches approximately 18,000 people annually and includes gardening tips, health and mindfulness classes, art installations, and family offerings like concerts and seasonal celebrations. These events reach people in-person while simultaneously giving gardening enthusiasts at-home access to the recordings. Seasonal programming kicks off for the 2023 season in March with the Gardeners’ Gathering on the 18th, which is free and open to all.
“There are roughly 125,000 people who live within a quarter mile of one of our 56 community gardens,” said Vice President of Urban Outdoors Vidya Tikku. “Our goal is not simply to create an audience of people who have plots, but to invite all of the surrounding community to reap the benefits of our special spaces.”
Visit our Community Gardens page to learn all about our gardens, including upcoming programs, workshops, and more.