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Highlighting the History of Fourteen Gardens in Cambridge, MA


June 23, 2022

Cambridge Plant & Garden Club Published Cambridge Community Gardens Today

The Cambridge Plant & Garden Club recently completed a two-year project titled Cambridge Community Gardens Today, documenting and celebrating the diversity of the fourteen community gardens located throughout the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The publication includes a brief introduction highlighting the history of the gardens in Cambridge. Four pages are dedicated to each garden, with a short history, plot layout, description of the gardeners, and what is grown. Numerous photographs include a drone shot showing each garden in its neighborhood location.

In 2019, the club’s Garden History and Design Committee decided to explore and learn more about the fourteen Cambridge Community Gardens. Individual committee members were each assigned a garden, with the mission to observe and learn by visiting her garden frequently, speaking to the garden coordinators and gardeners, and researching any history that they could find. The club’s Garden History and Design Committee has previously documented and submitted six gardens to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens: five private gardens and the Morse School Garden with City Sprouts. Cambridge Community Gardens Today has been submitted to the Smithsonian’s Community of Gardens archive.

While each of the gardens shared social roots, the most striking discovery was that each of the fourteen community gardens was unique. And nothing gives better testament to the rich tapestry of these gardens than the devotion, skill and varied interests of the Cambridge residents who garden in them. In the Sacramento Street Community Garden, for example, the profusion of tomatoes that have become available—beefsteak slicers, plum tomatoes, and various heirlooms—would fill a book. In the Costa Lopez Tayler Park Garden in East Cambridge, the wonderful curling shape of Egyptian onions rival the sculptural twists of the garden’s gate.  Mustard greens, bitter melons, and salsify grow in The Port’s Moore Street Community Garden.  In North Cambridge, the McMath Community Garden includes not only a profusion of vegetables, herbs, and fruits, but in many plots flowers such as poppies, sunflowers, phlox, and Shasta daisies also abound. Clumps of milkweed attract equally colorful butterflies.

Recommendations to the city of Cambridge, which manages the gardens, are offered in the conclusion. Cambridge Community Gardens Today marks the first time the role of civic advocacy has been added to a garden documentation project of the club’s History and Design Committee.

The booklet can be accessed and read in full on the Cambridge Plant & Garden Club’s website.


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