Boston Natural Areas Network to Celebrate Opening of Dorchester’s Largest Community Garden

Nightingale Garden Offers 1.5 Acres of Community Gardening to Boston’s Largest Neighborhood

Contact Information

Valerie Burns
Boston Natural Areas Network

Kristi Perry
PR Manager
The Trustees of Reservations

BOSTON, MAJuly 28, 2011 – As the interest in community gardens continues to grow rapidly nationwide and around the Boston area, Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) will celebrate the grand opening of Nightingale Community Garden -- the largest community garden to open in Dorchester -- next Saturday, August 6, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon at 512 Park Street in Dorchester. Mayor Thomas M. Menino will join gardeners, neighbors, partners, and supporters to celebrate the first planting season of this remarkable new 1.5-acre garden in the heart of the city’s largest neighborhood. All are invited to come learn more about this new community treasure and enjoy music and refreshments. The event is free and open to the public.

Once the site of the former Boston Public Florence Nightingale School, and long gardened by a small group of local residents, Nightingale Garden was acquired by BNAN in 2006 as a permanent community garden. BNAN is a Boston-based nonprofit that works to preserve, expand, and enhance urban open space, including community gardens, greenways, and urban wilds throughout the City of Boston. After years of advocacy efforts and a thorough community planning and design process, renovations to Nightingale Garden began in earnest in late 2010 and were completed in June.

BNAN has significantly expanded Nightingale Community Garden from 30 to 132 plots and raised beds under cultivation by more than 150 resident gardeners who represent a wide array of cultures and generations. The new garden features healthy, nutrient-rich soil, fully accessible paths, a complete irrigation system, benches and picnic tables, a tool shed, bulletin board, and a common gathering area with gazebo sun shelter that also captures rain water in barrels. The gardeners began planting on July 1, and even with the late start due to construction constraints, Nightingale Garden is already demonstrating its bountiful potential. Blueberry bushes were saved from the old garden and fruit trees will be planted in the fall. Nightingale is quickly becoming the hub of community gardening and urban agriculture in Dorchester, hosting programs focused on cultivating fresh healthy food, including gardening, cooking, and fitness workshops, as well as concerts throughout the summer. All programs and events are free and open to all gardeners and the public to enjoy.

“Nightingale Garden is a real community success story,” says Valerie Burns, president of Boston Natural Areas Network. “The project represents years of steadfast efforts by residents, the city, BNAN, and many donors and partners to create a permanent garden where the community can gather and grow healthy food for years to come.”

This garden renovation is part of a Dorchester-wide program called Boston Is Growing Gardens (BIGG), which BNAN founded in 2009 for the purpose of doubling the growing capacity of community gardens in the neighborhood and promoting the health and wellness of its residents. The BIGG program combines improved and expanded gardens with no-cost programs to build interest, participation and skill in growing fresh vegetables and inspire healthier eating and more active lifestyles. Through coordinated outreach and skill-building and mentoring programs, BIGG works to connect Dorchester residents to these new gardening programs and resources.

“The opening of the Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester signifies a big step forward in community-building, neighborhood renewal and preservation for the City of Boston,” Mayor Menino said. “Community gardens add many dimensions to our open urban space as they provide a viable source of inexpensive and healthy food and also promote regular physical activity and a rewarding personal experience.”

Major funders for the project include the Boston Public Health Commission through its Community Putting Prevention to Work program, Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development Grassroots program, the Manton Foundation, the Claneil Foundation, the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, the Towards Sustainability Foundation, the American Heart Association, the Cabot Trust, and the Boston Foundation. Boston University School of Public Health provided in-kind services to insure healthy soil.

If you would like to learn more about BIGG or how to get involved in community gardening in your Dorchester neighborhood, please contact BNAN at or call the BIGG Project Manager, Grantley Payne, at 617.542.7696 x21.

More about BNAN
Founded in 1977, Boston Natural Areas Network, which owns 43 community gardens and provides services to all 150 of Boston’s community gardens, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together local residents, partner organizations, public officials, and foundations to preserve, expand, and enhance urban open space, including community gardens, greenways, and urban wilds. Through community organizing, acquisition, programming, and advocacy, BNAN has led the protection of more than 800 acres of urban wilds and the creation of more than 5 miles of greenways.

In the fall of 2006, BNAN formed a permanent affiliation with The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation nonprofit, which preserves, for public use and enjoyment, 105 properties of scenic, historic and natural beauty throughout the Commonwealth. For more information about BNAN, becoming a member, or upcoming events, visit or call 617.542.7696. For more information about The Trustees, visit