The Charlestown Sprouts Community Garden is expanding this spring by building new gardening beds. As many as 30 gardening families new to Charlestown Sprouts will be able use these beds to grow culturally important food for their families. To support this project, Charlestown Sprouts is asking for financial help from the community.
The Sprouts Renewal project began 3 years ago with its first phase and after successful fundraising, community design charrettes, site planning, permitting, demolition, and construction of gardening beds, Charlestown Sprouts is again eager to welcome new gardeners to build community that is centered around the love and necessity of growing food. Eleven-year Sprouts gardener Megan Popp said, “One of the most exciting parts of this rebuilding project is seeing new people connect to the garden and getting to share what we’re about with our neighbors.”
Charlestown Sprouts was founded in the 1990s and has been at its current location on Terminal Street near the public boat ramp since 1997. Charlestown Sprouts, Inc. was incorporated in 1998 and became a 501(c)3 charitable organization in 2003.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Sprouts has met a critical need to help with food security for families. Shumei Tang, a gardener of more than 10 years, said, “In the beginning, I used to enjoy bringing my kids to the garden. They enjoyed the garden also and we were able to bring home healthy vegetables.” Her children are now older but added, “Now my kids have less of an interest in the garden but I am still able to bring home fresh, healthy vegetables that are much cheaper than from the store. I also enjoy meeting gardeners from the community there.”
The City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development Grassroots Program provided seed funding for Sprouts Renewal in 2019. Other funders are Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Urban Agriculture Program, the Oren Campbell McCleary Charitable Trust, the City of Boston’s Charlestown Community Impact Fund, the Mystic River Watershed Association and individual donors. Its design and construction management contractor, Fuss & O’Neill, have been very generous with their time and support as well.
As part of the first phase, demolition of the existing garden began in 2021 and construction of 38 beds, pathways, and irrigation was completed in April, 2021. Charlestown Sprouts is now in its second phase of building which will include up to 30 gardening beds, purchasing a shed and composting system, constructing a sheltered gathering structure, purchasing public benches, planting fruit trees for use by anyone, and more.
A majority of Sprouts gardeners are immigrants and/or low-income. In 2021, 50% of gardening families did not speak English at home (46% spoke Chinese or other Asian language) and 33% of families earned less than $15,000 per year while 50% earned less than $35,000 per year. The Boston median income of a family is $71,115.
To complement existing funding and to do even more, Charlestown Sprouts is kicking off its first ever community support initiative, the Renewal Fundraising Campaign. Support for this campaign will go towards building gardening beds, planting a small fruit tree orchard that may be enjoyed and harvested by the public, and long-term sustainability.
Megan Popp has been energized by Sprouts Renewal, “It’s been great to see the wider Charlestown community’s interest in chipping in to help sponsor these improvements. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in the community coming to enjoy this space that we’re building together.”
To learn more about Sprouts Renewal or inquire about gardening plot, check out its Facebook page @charlestownsprouts, email [email protected], or call/text 617-669-4509. To donate to the Sprouts Renewal project, go to donorbox.org/sprouts-renewal or just call or email.