Innovative "Community Grown" design program seeks to build community in Boston gardens

A new series of events, workshops and family activities will soon take place in Boston community gardens, with the launch of five new projects under Boston’s “Community Grown” program.  

A three-year partnership between The Trustees, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, and TD Bank, Community Grown aims to draw friends and neighbors into city garden spaces, to connect with each other and enjoy open, green space in the middle of the City. Artists, community members and groups submitted proposals this spring, and the newly selected winners will be featured at community gardens around the City of Boston, from August to October. 

Two of the winning projects this year will take place in Joe Ciampa Community Garden in East Boston, one of the 56 Trustees-run community gardens in the City. Projects will also be carried out in gardens in Jamaica Plain and Fenway. 

“Every year, the annual Public Space Invitational inspires our residents to design creative, innovative projects that help to enhance our neighborhood spaces,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in a recent press release about the initiative. “This year, winners focused on creating neighborhood and community spaces that are free and open to all in Boston’s community gardens and I look forward to residents enjoying these spaces.” 

With community gardens as the backdrop for each, the event series serves as an important reminder of the power of these green spaces—as a gathering space, a source for fresh and affordable produce, and even a resilience-booster for the surrounding homes and businesses. As green open space, community gardens can play a significant role in waterfront cities like Boston, that are working to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. 

“This initiative is a wonderful example of a partnership between a nonprofit, the City and a private corporation that can pool their resources and networks to support urban residents,” said Vidya Tikku, Trustees Director for Greater Boston. “As part of this collaboration, local artists and place based innovative programs will connect an audience beyond gardeners to the benefits and joys of community gardens and help strengthen community conversations in our neighborhoods.” 

This year’s winners are:  

To see images of the winning designs, click the thumbnail above (courtesy

To see images of the winning designs, click the thumbnail above (courtesy

“Grow Up Curious,” by: Emeline Gaujac and Naomi Sherman (Joe Ciampa Community Garden in East Boston)

“Grow up curious is an interactive sensory garden made up of a series of immersive one-sense planters that are meant to teach children and adults about plants. The installation will connect children and families to nature through a playful intervention in an urban setting.” 

“Stories from the Garden,” by: Anaís Azul, Dzidor Azaglo, Kim Barzola, Hassan Ghanny, Sofía Perez, Stephanie Houten, Cameron Hawkins (Joe Ciampa Community Garden in East Boston)

“Stories from the Garden: A Celebration of Community and the Arts, is an event series where East Boston community members gather to tell stories of their neighborhood and the people that make it thrive. Through a songwriting workshop, a writing workshop, and the creation of a community mural, oral histories become everlasting. Works produced in these workshops are preserved by way of video, photography, and a live recording of the performances at a culminating open mic event.” 

“All Who are Hungry, Come in and Eat!” by: Jennie Rose Halperin and Alex Auriema (Leland St. Community Garden in Jamaica Plain)

“Through spaghetti dinners, the project leads will create lasting connections through food, performance, and ephemeral experience. Part potluck, part shared table, part performance space, and part placemaking exercise, the garden will become a community hub for artists, activists, ecologists, musicians, and more. The design team will build a beautiful, communal table for the Leland Community Garden to help build a gathering space for potlucks, gardener meetings, and community discussions.” 

“Wheel‘n Around,” by Robert Barella (Fenway Victory Gardens)

“Wheel‘n Around is a mobile installation that aims to spark creativity, generate conversation, and make public spaces more inviting and fun. The installation creates an artful interpretation of gardening supplies and uses them to create unique and fun social gathering spaces. The design reflects the identity of the surrounding neighborhoods and aims to educate the public about the benefits of creating a healthy urban lifestyle through agriculture and community building.” 

“Pollinator Summer,” by: Qian Mei and Mike Gajda (Fenway Victory Gardens)

“Pollinator Summer invites people to the Fenway Victory Gardens to learn about the importance of pollinators and their impending challenges with climate change. Throughout the growing season, the Fenway Victory Gardens provides a perfect venue to interact with pollinators, hosting different species of butterflies, bees, dragonflies, and birds. Through an interactive exhibit, wayfinding signage, and an event series, explore why pollinators are so crucial to our ecosystem as well as to your dinner table.” 

Past performances under this program have included storytelling, community conversations, dinners, performances, and plays. Click here for this year’s event dates and times

As the largest owner of community gardens in Boston, and the founder of the One Waterfront Initiative—working to create climate-resilient parks that serve as community gathering places while also protecting Boston’s vulnerable waterfront—The Trustees is proud to support the Community Grown program. The important, but sometimes overlooked, resilience impact of community gardens was the topic at this spring’s community gardening kickoff, the Gardener’s Gathering. The theme was inspired by the City’s Imagine Boston 2030 goal for “a healthy environment and to prepare for climate change,” and spoke directly to the One Waterfront Initiative vision. 


To learn more about the One Waterfront Initiative, click here 

For more information about Trustees Community gardens, click here 

See the original press release from the City of Boston by clicking here