Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Berkeley Community Gardens - Boston's South End

On last week's expedition to Boston's South End, we stumbled upon the Berkeley Community Gardens. What a surprise! I'm familiar with community gardens, and drive past another small one weekly on my way to the flower market, very close to this one.

But I never suspected that two blocks away was this monster garden! It's HUGE! I think it takes up one half of a city block. There are over 150 plots within its borders.

As you can see, it backs up to a row of ubiquitous South End brownstones. Well, the block originally had another row of brownstones which were back to back with these. During a period of urban renewal, the buildings on this side of the block were torn down.

After the block was torn down, opposition to urban renewal took hold, building stopped, and the area was left abandoned.

Some intrepid gardeners starting using the space and soon a community garden was born.

It was utterly fascinating to see row after row of gardens all planted according to each individual gardener's needs and design. Some were strictly ornamental while many others were growing food stuffs.

One of the more intriguing sights were the plots that seemed to be completely caged in with fencing made out of wire racks and refrigerator type shelving. I'm thinking this was more about function than beauty, but I couldn't quite grasp what that function was. Do you have any thoughts on why you'd cage a garden plot this way?!


Angela Kusek-Schubert said...

Wow! I can't imagine! When I used to live in an apartment I had my balcony so loaded with plants you couldn't even fit 2 people on it! Now I can't imagine not having a yard...do you think the cages would be to prevent theft? I would be pretty ticked is someone stole my first tomato! Do you remember the Will and Grace where they tried gardening?

Sprout said...

The entire garden did seem to have fence around the perimeter, and each plot is fenced individually. Maybe there are people who would jump a fence for a nice ripe red tomato!

I was thinking it maybe had something to do with critter control. I know we've watched the tomatoes on our 3rd floor deck get pecked to death by bluejays. And then they taught the ground doves how to do it.

Where's a raptor when you need one! When the nearby park had hawks we didn't have this problem!!

ayardandahalf said...

I was so excited to read about your encounter with the garden. I'm a landscape designer working pro-bono on a design for the public perimeter of the garden.

In answer to your questions: the garden is 50-75% Asian gardeners who grow vegetables using traditional methods. The improvised trellises over individual plots form supports for melon & gourd vines. The vines shade the greens below. So while most of our lettuce bolts in the heat of summer, they keep producing all season long!

Sprout said...

Yard & 1/2 - Thank you so much for solving this mystery for me! What a brilliant way to use space. Can't tell you how it made my day to know this. :-)

It's wonderful how much there is to learn from other gardeners, other cultures about gardening!

Are visitors welcome to walk through the garden? We kept to the sidewalk even though it looked like we could walk in.

Keep me posted on your design for the perimeter - might have to make another expedition!

info said...

www.berkeleygardens.org You will learn ALL about the Asian gardeners hanging gardens


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