Boston Natural Areas Network|
Boston Natural Areas Network is best known for their work with and advocacy for effective community
based uses of open space. They are "property owners" but more
than that. They advocate for effective use and preservation of
open space in the greater Boston area. Organized in 1977, they have
continued to work to preserve, expand and improve urban open space.
Their tools include community organizing, acquisition and ownership and
the management of specialty spaces such as Urban Wilds, Greenways and
Since the inception of Boston Natural Areas Network, forging effective
partnerships has been their hallmark. Bringing together community
groups, public agencies, non-profits and for-profits together, BNAN
promotes the creation of common visions. How to combine resources for
the most effective results and the benefit of all - their goals, their
visions, their mission.
Important to note is BNAN's position as "helper," not "supervisor."
For example, in the community garden setting, Boston Natural Areas Network
manages the open land as a public resource but in application, it is
the gardeners who organize their own leadership and maintenance of the
Boston Gardeners Council
One of their offshoot organizations is called the Boston Gardeners
Council. It serves as a voice for Boston’s community and residential
gardeners. Promoting sustainable urban gardening efforts and the spread
of community gardening to "every inch" of Boston, to every
neighborhood, they seek to grant access to gardens - all ages, all
socio-economic backgrounds and cultures, all levels of gardening
Everyone can enjoy the benefits of healthy food grown close
to home (and to the heart) as well as experience a new form of
community beautification - not the finely manicured lawns, hedges and
flower beds but, with neighbors working together in common interest,
the regrowth of stewardship of the earth.
Grand plans, ideas and visions notwithstanding, the ground level
management of community gardens is where the "tires hit the road"
so-to-speak, or phrased somewhat more aptly, where the hoe and rake hit
the garden beds.
"Go for it," is the enthusiastic final words the gardeners hear in
Spring as they enter their community garden, take charge of their plots
and watch their efforts grow into viable harvest to feed themselves,
their family and friends and, with more than enough for all, the
surplus contributed to local food pantries.
Yet the work of gardening successfully includes the accumulation of
knowledge - attending seminars, workshops, getting advice from friends
and "How-To's" from the support staff at Boston Natural Areas Network.
Photo above: Savin Maywood Community Garden in Roxbury have done a
great job of preparing their garden plots, tools, walkways and image
for the months of winter.
Fall Community Garden Clean-Ups Done Well
Recently, BNAN staff took on the task of creating a set of community
garden guiding principles applying to all gardens across the city for
effective garden maintenance. The resulting documents are to be
commended. Not only do they help community gardeners but they
could be helpful to any home gardener who wants a better way to
effectively manage their own gardens.
The structure that automatically exists, because Boston Natural Areas Network is
ultimately responsible for the community gardens. gives them a right and
a responsibility to do what’s best for all. BNAN’s Fall Community
Garden Clean-up letter is a comprehensive procedure which is also
supportive of the gardeners and the community.
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This document spells out the communal and individual responsibilities of community gardeners including:
- End of season clean-ups - organic waste, composting and trash
- Safety over the winter - plans for snow removal, blowing winds, vulnerable structures
- Caring for tools and equipment - tomato cages, buckets, supports, shovels, rakes, etc, hoses
- Preparing and preserving resources - mulch, compost piles
- Sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood - overall appearance
- General maintenance - review the garden for defects
Useful end-of-season procedures
- Work with your local municipality. In Boston
the Public Works Department will pick up garden waste - trash
separate from organic waste. Know the proper procedures and the
- Prepare the garden for Winter.
Plan to come back to a properly functioning garden in the spring which
means that cautions must be taken now before the winter begins to close
off the water, secure the storage huts and remove any items that could
fly away with an especially heavy wind.
- Plan to clean and store your tools
properly. It is not just the earth that brings forth the fruits
and veggies but also the hard work of the gardeners, so cleaning and
storing tools properly is especially important.
- Remember the "gold" that feeds the garden plots in the spring - namely the compost piles. Prepare them for the winter.
- Be sensitive
to the overall appearance and beauty of the community gardens for your
own sense of pride as well as acknowledgment from neighbors.
- Think "stewardship" which is doing whatever is necessary to preserve our planet today for tomorrow and tomorrow’s generations.
Community gardens are the "new normal" in a world transforming itself
from sub-urban to green-urban.
We are all learning how to live
Boston Natural Areas Network is an important contributor to
this overall effort.
Karen Chafee firstname.lastname@example.org
To obtain a copy of any of the BNAN garden management documents, contact Karen. They are eager to help.