Project Spotlight: Folsom Street Community Garden (The Food Project)

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Earlier this year, The Food Project asked COGdesign to plan a community garden for a vacant lot at 25-27 Folsom Street, Dorchester. COGdesign volunteers Trevor Smith, lead designer at Land Escapes, and Marie Macchiarolo, a 2014 graduate of the Conway School of Landscape Design, have been creating a design for this sloping urban site.

“…we hope to have young and old teaching and learning from each other and coming together bonding and sharing over their farm,” Smith and Macchiarolo wrote.

In their draft plan, the designer’s first priority is to cap the native urban soils to prevent contaminating food grown on the site. Old city lots are frequently contaminated with lead and other heavy metals due to decades of pollution from lead paint, leaded gasoline, even lead arsenate sprayed as a pesticide on street trees.  Smith and Macchiarolo’s plan calls for regrading the site and adding 6″ of wood chips to keep the ground covered. Smith and Macchiarolo also plan for a possible rain garden on the site to slow stormwater and allow it to filter through soil—far healthier for local waterways than having stormwater pour into storm drains.

One the surface of the site is prepped, Smith and Macchiarolo plan calls for colorful raised beds for gardeners of all ages, interests and skill levels. There will be extra high beds for handicapped and mobility challenged gardeners, large planting areas for the committed farmer, medium plots for the weekend warrior, and novice and small plots for children.

For even younger children, the designs include an option for a strawberry slide—mounded earth with strawberries planted alongside for a “slide” effect—or a crawl tunnel, and help connect children to food and the land and toprovide entertainment while the adults tend to their gardens. Berry bushes also provide a community harvest through the growing season. “…we hope to have young and old teaching and learning from each other and coming together bonding and sharing over their farm,” Smith and Macchiarolo wrote.

Smith and Macchiarolo have made draft designs for gardens with metal or wooden raised beds. The metal beds will last longer, but cost more to purchase than wooden beds. COGdesign looks forward to getting community feedback about these designs, and seeing the plans evolve as Smith, Macchiarolo, and COGdesign Project Shepherd Karen Clay continue to work with The Food Project and residents of the Folsom Street neighborhood.

Metal bed option / Smith & Macchiarolo
Metal bed option / Smith & Macchiarolo
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Wooden bed option / Smith & Macchiarolo