For Immediate Release
August 06, 2011
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Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino celebrated the effort to renovate and expand the Nightingale Community Garden, one of the oldest gardens in the City of Boston and the focus of the resurgence in community gardening in Dorchester. Nightingale Community Garden, located on Park Street in Dorchester, is a community garden owned by Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN). Through funding sources from two city agencies, BNAN has expanded this garden to 132 plots. The garden was awarded $400,000 in Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) funding from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) and $175,000 in Grassroots funding from the Department of Neighborhood Development. These funds have allowed BNAN to develop and renovate existing garden plots and pathways as well as create a new gathering area.
“This celebration marks an important step in making our community gardens beautiful and available to all residents in every part of the City to enjoy,” Mayor Menino said. “This new Nightingale Community Garden is a shared effort and will help add vibrancy and aesthetic appeal to Dorchester. Community gardening provides great physical activity, increases access to affordable healthy fresh produce, and brings our residents closer together.”
CPPW funding also has supported the creation of Boston is Growing Gardens (BIGG), a community outreach and education program to bring new gardeners into the community gardening movement and provide them with skills and ongoing support. The Nightingale Community garden will serve 132 gardeners, an increase of 100 from its previous capacity and many of whom are new to gardening, and will be Dorchester’s largest community garden.
Over the years, BNAN has recognized that all of the community gardens in the City were fully cultivated except for those in Dorchester due to poor physical condition as well as language and cultural barriers among residents, who were unaware of the accessibility of local community gardens. Therefore, BNAN created the BIGG program in Dorchester to rebuild connections between community gardens and residents, their neighborhood groups, local agencies and institutions and to develop gardens in dire need of restoration. In addition to the Nightingale Garden expansion, an additional 150 plots have been added to seventeen smaller community gardens in Dorchester.
Originally, the Nightingale Garden was the site for the Florence Nightingale School. It dates back to the 1970s, when it was placed under Mayor White’s Revival Garden Program. Local residents have gardened the 1.4 acre site throughout the garden’s history. In 2002, the Department of Neighborhood Development transferred ownership to the BNAN. Today, the space is used by the community for neighborhood cookouts, art exhibits, and concerts, in addition to the garden plots.
When the garden was constructed in the 1970s, creosote timbers and pressure treated wood were used to divide the plots. The timber began to break down over the years so the Boston University School of Public Health has helped BNAN and DND establish remediation practices and design standards for garden reconstruction. Other basic improvements to the garden will increase garden production and help the year-round appearance of the site:
- Upgrading the irrigation system;
- Creating a new path system;
- Creating new raised beds for elderly and physically challenged gardeners
In addition to financial support from both the DND and BPHC, several significant private donors also contributed.