Trustees’ Boston Gardeners’ Gathering highlights role of urban green spaces in preparing for climate change impacts
Boston’s community gardening season kicked off on Saturday with a full day of workshops for gardeners and urban farmers, at the 44th Annual Gardeners’ Gathering hosted by The Trustees in partnership with Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the City of Boston at Northeastern University. The Trustees manages 56 community gardens totaling 15 acres across eight Boston neighborhoods from East Boston to Jamaica Plain.
This year the theme was inspired by the City’s Imagine Boston 2030 goal for “a healthy environment and to prepare for climate change” by investing in open spaces along our waterfront and in our neighborhoods. Speakers and workshops focused on the part that community gardens can and must play in a waterfront city working to prepare for impacts such as increased flooding and more frequent storms.
"Today, community gardens can be in the vanguard of monitoring, adapting and mitigating climate change,” said keynote speaker Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director of the New York City Community Garden Coalition. “As cities look for ways to mitigate the effects of global warming, urban green spaces are often cited as a potential solution…community gardens provide elements that can handle heavy rains and prevent flooding, protect against storm damage, and capture and store rainwater using cisterns. Other green infrastructure techniques like permeable paving, rain gardens, and bioswales can slow flooding and prevent erosion and plant damage. As neighborhood protectors, community gardens are models of community green infrastructure and climate change protection."
Boston community gardens have flourished under a strong partnership between the Mayor's office, the open space nonprofit sector and city residents, and Mayor Walsh attended Saturday’s event, delivering the keynote address and presenting the annual Community Garden Awards.
This year’s awards went to outstanding Rookie Garden of the Year: Windermere Community Garden Most Valuable Gardener: Althea Wagman-Bolster; West Springfield Community Garden; Hall of Fame Gardener: Willie Brown III, Ed Cooper Community Garden; and Hall of Fame Garden: Rutland & Washington Community Garden.
Mayor Walsh also announced more than $575,000 in funding awarded by the Community Preservation Act to community gardeners and urban farmers, and got a crash course in growing microgreens from teens in Hyde Park.
The Annual Gardeners’ Gathering is a free day-long event, now in its 44th year, and is hosted by The Trustees. Workshops this year included: Gardens Rising: Community Gardens & Climate Change; Plan a School Garden Curriculum; Container Gardening; Public Health Impacts of Community Gardens; Starting a Community Garden; and more.
“What makes community gardens so special and so different is that they’re all about people coming together,” Engagement Manager Michelle de Lima told BNN News ahead of the event. “Gardens are one of the few places left in the city where people can really interact with people that they wouldn’t know otherwise.”
Urban green spaces across Massachusetts, and across the country, are disappearing, making safeguarding the open space we already have critical to the health and wellbeing of our city neighborhoods. The Trustees community gardens are tended and cared for by local residents and turn neighbors into friends, strengthen family bonds and traditions, and inspire joy in the shared work of growing fresh, healthy, and delicious food. They also help to absorb rainwater and mitigate flooding—a critical resilience measure in a waterfront city facing serious climate change impacts.
The Trustees’ role as caretaker of Boston’s green spaces doesn’t stop with its own gardens: it also helps to coordinate activities related to all of the city’s community gardens, touching more than 15,000 individuals and families. To take part in upcoming garden workshops, check out the spring listings at www.thetrustees.org/seedsow.