South Worcester: box gardening!


Executive Director Ron Charette at the neighborhood garden beds. 50 Worcester inner-city families have their own big box gardens or beds like this one! Go, South Worcester, go!!!!!

By Ron O’Clair

I had an opportunity to visit recently with Ron Charette of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center at 47 Camp Street to see what they have been doing with the families in the area in regards to providing a place for them to grow their own food.

There are 50 Box Gardens and 10 Garden Beds set out in the far right corner of the property. which once was devoted to a City of Worcester Swimming Pool that was a memory of my own youth growing up around the Four Corners when I lived on Princeton Street and would go to what we referred to as: Maloney’s Field to swim, play in the grass, and just have a good time. Back then, the City of Worcester maintained a number of pools throughout the city for the residents to enjoy on the hot summer days of my youth. Now, there does not seem to be enough money in the budget to provide pools for the neighborhoods like back then.

Big, healthy veggies in South Worcester box gardens!

Anyways, the earth that is being used to grow the vegetables outside the neighborhood center is actually composted from yard wastes that city residents drop off at the City of Worcester drop sites on Chandler Street, across from Foley Stadium, the old Ballard Street incinerator that is now on Millbury Street with the change in the street names that coincided with the Rt. 146 project, and I believe out on Clark Street.

City residents can drop off their yard wastes, provided it is not full of trash, and is in paper bags, no plastic allowed.
The website gives the details of where and when they allow you to bring your material for recycling.

The gardens are a collaborative effort of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center, Nuestro Huerto, and the City of Worcester Department of Public Works & Parks to provide area residents a place to learn how to produce their own food. There are 50 families who have box gardens and come to tend to the task of making things grow. It is a rewarding experience for all, especially the young who learn that food just does not magically appear on supermarket shelves.

Poor families learn how to grow their own food. So healthy for the kids – and a great learning experience for them, too!

Executive Director Ron Charette refers to it as a “partnership for the future” that will bring awareness to many about how they can help provide for their family through efforts such as this. Many of these urban gardeners would not have a place to use to grow their own food without this program being in place. Many of the families come from various parts of the world: there are African, Asian and Latino families, as well as just about every type of family there is here in the great melting pot that is Worcester.

There are many different varieties and types of vegetables being grown, each according to the taste of the participant.

In the South Worcester gardens I saw many different varieties of lettuce. There were items that grow on vines, like cucumbers, squash. pumpkins and zucchini, as well as corn, beans and peas of many different varieties. Someone who likes eggplant is growing them as well.

This is basically for the children, who learn as well as have fun growing the food stuffs that eventually they will be be able to enjoy when harvest time comes.

All of the people involved in this project deserve recognition for all they do to make it possible: Ron Charette and the South Worcester Neighborhood Center, Nuestro Huerto – which also has other spots in the city under cultivation like the spot on Oread Street – and the City of Worcester Public Works & Parks Department which provides the compost to grow the vegetables in, and all the people of the city who contribute to the recycling program that produces the compost through participation in the yard waste recycling program.

It seems like a win/win situation all around!

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