A vibrant community garden is on its way to Mission Hill.
The Gore St. Garden, which is being developed by the Mission Hill Health Movement (MHHM), is preparing for construction and is slated to open in late spring of next year for the summer growing season.
The Gazette spoke with MHHM’s Executive Director, Mary Ann Nelson, to learn more about the garden and the current fundraising effort.
The garden came to be as one of eight vacant parcels in the neighborhood identified by the City of Boston for development. MHHM and other members of the community pressed for some more green space in the neighborhood, and said that a community garden would be beneficial for the community. The lot at 6-8 Gore St. will become the future site of the garden, and MHHM became the owner of the parcel in October.
After being given a long term license as the developer of the parcel, MHHM submitted a rough design for the garden, then found landscape designer Laura Feddersen through COGdesign, an organization that “connects underserved communities with the technical design assistance they need to create design plans for new green space or for restoring/renovating an existing park, garden, yard or plaza,” according to its website.
Feddersen worked with the MHHM Garden Committee to create a design based on what the community said they were interested in, including different types of gardening plots and a shaded area for programming,
The City of Boston provided a grant of $62,000 for this garden, and the estimated cost of the project is about $75,000, Nelson said. She also said that students at Wentworth Institute of Technology will be installing the garden beds, and the MHHM needs to raise $10,000.
The City requires that the garden have some accessible garden plots, so the Gore St. Garden will have three wheelchair accessible beds. The garden will also feature eight beds that are divided up into 19 smaller plots.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for gardening activity on Mission Hill,” Nelson said, and a place where people can gather as a community to grow food and relax.
She said that there is an existing apple tree on the site which will remain and be cared for, and a row of blackberry bushes will be planted along the fence. There will also be an “education area” in the shady part of the garden for people to sit and for programming to take place.
While individual plots will be available, there will also be an opportunity for communal plots, as “a lot of people on Mission Hill move in September…” Nelson said, and won’t be in the neighborhood for the second half of the growing season.
“Our plan is to allow people to garden a single plot for three years and make it available to others at the end of that time period,” Nelson said. “There’s more people who want to garden than gardening spots,” and by limiting the amount of time one person can use a plot, it will allow more people to use the garden, she added.
“Communal spots are going to be where people who are free on a particular day can garden with others,” she said, adding that people who are medical residents or students “who don’t have the ability to come in and garden weekly” could benefit from an arrangement like this.
Additionally, Nelson said she has been in touch with several area preschools who may be interested in having a plot for the preschoolers to learn about plants and growing, but details have yet to be worked out.
“We want it to be a place where different ages of people can come and learn about how to grow food,” Nelson said.
She also said she would like to somehow incorporate the MHHM’s tomato seedling program—where tomato seedlings have been distributed to residents who are encouraged to grow them in pots—into the new garden somehow.
She said that construction was supposed to begin this fall, but has been delayed. Now, “we hope to begin as soon is the ground is warm enough to move the ground around,” she said. Wentworth students will be building and installing the raised garden beds next semester, Nelson said, with the help of a contractor.
Though the details are still being worked out, Nelson said there will be a fee in the $35 to $50 range to use a plot at the Gore St. Garden, but subsidies will be available for those who wish to garden but do not have the funds to pay the fee.
“We don’t want someone not to garden because they can’t afford it,” Nelson said. She also said an announcement is forthcoming in the next few months for how people can apply for plots, and people will be chosen using a lottery system.
Nelson said that the $10,000 that MHHM is trying to raise includes an approximate $6,000 for contingency “for cost overruns.” She said that if there are no cost overruns, any extra money will be used for operating the garden.
She also said that three benches will be installed on the site, and any donor who donates $2,500 or more will have their name on a bench. Anyone donating $1,000 or more will have their name on a placard on the fence.
“There were a lot of community people who were in support of it,” Nelson said of the garden, adding that she hopes people can both garden and catch up with neighbors in a communal public space. “We plan to make it a really important part of the community; a really good resource.”
Monetary contributions to the garden can be made through December 14 through the garden’s SeedMoney campaign at https://donate.seedmoney.org/5417/gore-st-garden, by donating to MHHM’s GoFundMe charity site at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/donate-widget/3528, or by sending a check or money order to the MHHM office at 1534 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02120.