Here! Take My Garden!

As much as romantics like to wax poetic about gardening feeding the soul, there’s an awful lot of sweaty, dirty work involved in keeping a bit of cultivated land healthy. That’s all well and good for some (and I personally like kneeling beside a patch of loamy, fragrant black earth), but what about those who aren’t quite up to the task? If they’re in the Boston area, they may be in luck: The nonprofit Growing Places Garden Project helps the infirm or disadvantaged build and keep up container gardens.

The project is small—Growing Places now serves 50 households—but so very cool: Growing Places visits the homes of member families, sets up the gardens, comes back regularly to do maintenance and give advice, and then helps with cleanup after the fall harvest. In between, the garden owners give the containers daily care and eat up the produce. After two years, gardeners graduate from the program and are cut loose, hopefully with enough cultivation skills to keep their now-flourishing gardens going.

Kate Deyst, one of the cofounders of the project, was inspired to begin giving away her gardening services when she read about Dan Barker, the Vietnam vet who built more than 1,400 gardens for the needy in Portland, Oregon, through his Home Gardening Project. Maybe reading about Deyst will inspire someone else.

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