Community Groves℠ – Boston Natural Areas Network, Nightingale Community Garden

(Boston, MA)- The local non-profit Boston Natural Areas Network received funding from ACTrees to develop a Community Groves℠ project planting fruit trees at the Nightingale Community Garden in the Dorchester neighborhood.


Lesson: Community Gardens

Tree group_smallCommunity Gardens are traditionally adverse to tree coverage as they seek as much sunlight as possible. The Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester is one of the Boston’s larger community gardens with approximately 1.5 acres and 131 plots serving more than 250 gardeners and producing more than 25,000 pounds of fresh produce each year. The 27 trees planted by Boston Natural Areas Network through funding from ACTrees have been enthusiastically embraced by the gardeners as they provide a wind barrier along the gardens western edge, a screen from local residences along its southern edge, and within a few years will bring a more diverse food supply to the garden.

This Community Groves project has expanded the horizons and expectations of local gardeners as they look forward to future harvests. The orchard has also allowed Boston Natural Areas Network to gain a new unexpected partner: the community gardener. The success at Nightingale Community Garden will be the foundation for bringing other orchards to community gardens throughout Boston.


Lesson: Irrigation and Pest Control

BOSTON.NATURAL.2The trees have been monitored on a daily basis by the 250 community gardeners who garden at the Nightingale Community Garden. Under the guidance of Community Garden Coordinator, Elnora Thompson, a team of garden volunteers specifically monitors the orchard and regularly waters the trees from a reliable water source at the garden. The trees have gator bags which focus the watering and fresh mulch is provided to protect the trees. On a biweekly basis, BNAN staff observes the orchard to ensure that no unexpected problems arise. The trees were sprayed bi-weekly April to June with a holistic/organic spray. To control pests the trees are sprayed weekly May to July with a clay spray. And from June to fall the trees were sprayed weekly with an organic nutritional spray. In preparation for winter the trees were inspected, selectively pruned and mulched. In addition, tree guards were added to the base of tree trunks and gator bags were removed for the winter. They are in excellent shape now and are expected thrive.


Lesson: Education and Community Engagement

Boston Natural Areas Network used the Nightingale Garden project as a springboard to a citywide orchard education program. In the months prior to the Peoples Garden project planting on April 27 they hosted a program focusing on the pruning and care of Fruit Trees. Later in the year they hosted full programs focusing on Organic Care of Fruit Trees during the summer months, Asian Long Horned Beetle update, New Orchard Maintenance, and an Autumn Tree Maintenance Workshop. All programs were FREE and open to the public. The grant from ACTrees for this Community Groves℠ project allowed Boston Natural Areas Network to be actively involved in education activities workshops and programs that support urban orchards.

Learn more about Community Groves℠.