Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Community Gardening: Join a Community Garden

A guide to community gardening resources in the Boston Public Library and online

Community Gardening Poll

The most important function of a community garden is to:
Build Community: 11 votes (30.56%)
Provide Food Security: 7 votes (19.44%)
Promote Healthy Living: 5 votes (13.89%)
Grow Better Tasting Food: 3 votes (8.33%)
Encourage Sustainable Living: 6 votes (16.67%)
Beautify Vacant Lots: 0 votes (0%)
Educate Children and Youth: 1 votes (2.78%)
Preserve Wildlife Habitat: 2 votes (5.56%)
Other: 1 votes (2.78%)
Total Votes: 36

Benefits of Community Gardening

Community gardens offer many benefits both to individual participants and the community. Community gardens can:

  • Food production/security - Reduce food costs. Provide the opportunity to produce fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruit. Produce more flavorful food. Allow immigrants from farming and gardening cultures to grow familiar crops not available locally. Counteract food deserts.
  • Health - Improve nutrition. Reduce exposure to chemical herbicides and pesticides. Provide exercise opportunities. Reduce stress.
  • Community - Provide the opportunity for different generations, cultures, ethnic and socio-economic groups to interact. Build community pride. Serve as social centers. Train community members in community action. Offer newcomers a way to become involved with the neighborhood.
  • Education - Enable beginning gardeners, children, and youth to benefit from the knowledge and skill of experienced gardeners. Provide organized workshops to develop the gardening skills of members.
  • Environment - Reduce air pollution, rainwater runoff, soil erosion. Combat the urban heat island effect. Reduce carbon footprint. Filter rainwater. Prevent flooding. Increase biodiversity. Protect wildlife habitat.
  • Municipal - Beautify neighborhoods. Increase property values. Reduce crime.

Gardening Matters is a nonprofit organization that works to promote community gardening in the Twin Cities.  Their online resources section includes a detailed fact sheet on the benefits of community gardening and includes references to academic research in the area. Read the fact sheet.

The Royal Horticultural Society in Britain has conducted a review of the scientific literature on the environmental and health benefits of gardens and gardening.  Two of the key findings are that gardens help keep cities "above water" by preventing flooding, and that they act as air conditioning systems for cities. Read their reports and recommendations.

Some Local Community Gardens

Fenway Victory Gardens

Fenway Victory Gardens

Fenway Victory Gardens

Sullivan Square Community Garden

Sullivan Square Community Garden

Sullivan Square Community Garden

Finding the Right Community Garden for You

According to the City of Boston's Open Space Plan, 2015-2021, Boston has 175 community gardens in 11 neighborhoods.  The Commonwealth and the City own some, but most are owned by private or nonprofit groups. The gardens range in size from the Boston Parks and Recreation Department's Richard Parker Victory Gardens, located in the Fenway, with over 500 plots, to small neighborhood gardens with as few as 10 plots.Use the resources below to find a community garden close to you.  Take down the address and contact information provided for the gardens you are interested in.  Visit the gardens on your list.  Ask questions.  Discover the garden that is just right for you.

Trustees of Reservations: Boston Community Gardens

Boston Natural Areas Network merged with the Trustees of Reservations in 2014. the Trustees now have 56 community gardens under their protection, and act as a resource for all 176 community gardens in the Boston area. Visit the site to access their interactive map showing 56 active community gardens in Boston.

Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy

The Southwest corridor is a state park managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Use their online application form to sign up for a space in one of the eleven community gardens along the Corridor.

American Community Gardening Association

The American Community Gardening Association is a bi-national nonprofit agency that works to promote community gardening.  Access their map of community gardens at the link above.  You can add your community garden to their map.

It's always a good idea to visit a garden before signing up with it.  Try to visit at times the gardens are open and members are likely to be present, such as in the evenings or at weekends.  Members will be more than happy to talk with you about the gardens and might even be willing to give you a tour. 

When you're visiting, pay attention to:

  • Convenience of location
  • Proximity to public transportation, bike paths, or to parking facilities if you intend to drive
  • Whether the garden is open access, or has fences and a locked gate with set hours when the garden is open.  If the garden is only open at certain times, consider whether those times will work for you.
  • How many individual plots the garden has
  • Do all the garden plots have easy access to water?
  • Is there a toolshed for storing tools and materials?
  • Whether there is an area for group meetings and events
  • Is there a shaded seating area where you can take a break?
  • Is the site well maintained?
  • If you, or a member of your family, have mobility issues, is the site handicapped accessible?
  • Are there restrooms on site or nearby?
  • Is there a community bulletin board?

 

All gardens are run slightly differently.  It is a good idea to find out what the garden rules are, and what your responsibilities will be, before committing to a garden.  When you contact the garden organizer, or talk to garden members when you visit the garden, here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you have to live in the neighborhood to join?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • How much will a plot cost per year?
  • Are tools, compost, mulch etc. supplied to members?
  • Is the garden organic?
  • How actively do you have to cultivate your plot during the year to maintain your rights to it?
  • Are family members, including young children, allowed to participate?
  • If there is an area for group meetings/events, is that restricted to meetings/events that are garden related?
  • Are garden members required to help maintain common areas, run group events, participate in fundraisers, etc?
  • Is the garden owned or leased?
  • How to garden members communicate?

Featured Boston Community Gardens

The Fenway Victory Gardens are the oldest continuously operating Word War II Victory Gardens in the United States. Located in Fredrick Law Olmsted’s famed Emerald Necklace, over 500 gardens spanning 7.5 acres are tended by a community of more than 350 members from every neighborhood in Boston, reflecting the diversity of our city and its rich history and culture.

This community garden, at Sullivan Square in Charlestown, has been in operation since 1978. The garden has 63 plots, and is managed by the organization, Gardens for Charlestown.

A community of 140 gardeners located in the South End of Boston. 
Berkeley is one of the few community gardens open to the public, and they invite you to come and stroll their garden at any time during daylight hours.