Southeast Regional Director
The Haskell Public Gardens will become an exceptional public park. Of the handful of parks in New Bedford, none comes close to this combination of historic structures, buildings for public use, landscaped grounds, and open space. By preserving the structures and restoring the gardens, The Trustees will create an oasis accessible to a population that does not have such green or open space. This setting will provide inspiration, year-round beauty, and contemplative space.
The Trustees are pursuing partnerships with UMass-Dartmouth’s Sustainability Department and the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School to renovate the structures using sustainable building practices. The variety of smaller, but just as beautiful, sheds, labs, offices and storefronts will be transformed into educational, community gathering, and work spaces. The land currently comprised of existing gardens, vacant planting beds, and greenhouses will serve as a foundation for robust public engagement. The Trustees will keep a portion of the land open and available for community events: farmers markets, concerts, art exhibits, cultural festivals, and private celebrations.
The gardens, open fields, and 30,000 square feet of greenhouse space provide a variety of platforms for The Trustees to create horticultural and agricultural initiatives that are relevant to the community. These initiatives will be focused on garden restoration and maintenance, urban food production, and youth programs, all supported by our shared guiding principles.
Allen Haskell’s gardens anchor the landscape and buildings. The Trustees will restore and maintain these gardens through our Garden Restoration and Maintenance Initiative. Managed by Trustees’ staff, this program will work with volunteers and create partnerships with local garden clubs and youth programs. These efforts will be augmented through horticultural internships and public workshops. The greenhouses will, as the program evolves, grow plants that will maintain the landscaped grounds and be sold at an annual plant sale.
The Trustees will create a Growing Program, focused on increasing appreciation, education, and involvement in local food production. The program will engage local groups and organizations in the neighborhood and throughout the Greater New Bedford region, including Brickenwood and Presidential Heights low-income housing, local social-service agencies, and residential neighbors. This program will be inspired by successful urban farming models such as Growing Power in Milwaukee, The Trustees’ affiliate Boston Natural Areas Network, and the Food Project’s Dudley Greenhouse in Roxbury, which have transformed communities by connecting residents to local food production. The outside planting beds will be redesigned to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and will be used to create a variety of demonstration gardens for the community, including an herbal garden, edible yards, and ethnically relevant produce gardens. Each garden will be developed into “garden kits” that can be replicated in backyards or in schoolyards. Additionally, the Growing Program will serve as a hub for other Trustees farms including Weir River Farm, Westport Town Farm, and Cornell Farm.
The Garden Restoration and Maintenance Program and the Growing Program will be supported by two New Bedford teams of The Trustees’ South Coast Youth Conservation Corps. The Corps provides life and business-skills development, community service, and training in agriculture and horticulture to New Bedford youth.
An Outdoor Discovery Garden for children rounds out The Trustees’ initiatives. A thoughtfully crafted and maintained children’s garden will create a unique resource for the children of the South Coast to reconnect to nature. It will include a variety of spaces for growing and nurturing plants, creating art, climbing, crawling, playing, and exploring the outside environment. The curriculum will build on the Haskell property’s unique combination of horticulture, agriculture, and history, and be sure to inspire children and visitors, young and old alike.