Berkeley Community Garden
What We Did
Protected a half-century-old garden from potential development
Preserve the community gardening culture of Boston
In the 1970s, a group of Chinese gardeners seized an opportunity in Boston’s South End that would spark a decades-long movement. Without official approval, they began gardening in an abandoned lot—growing not just the usual kitchen staples but also traditional Chinese produce such as bitter melon.
Over time, more family and friends began claiming plots of their own within the lot, creating what would be collectively known as the Berkeley Community Garden. By 1992, ownership was transferred from the City of Boston to the South End Lower Roxbury Open Space Land Trust (SELROSLT). Then in 2012, SELROSLT merged the ownership and maintenance of the property with Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN).
Despite the loose beginnings and shifts in ownership, the garden solidified into an established and storied community hub with more than 145 plots. But in 2015—about 45 years since the start of it all—the garden came under threat of development.
Trust For Public Land worked with the community, SELROSLT, BNAN, and Massachusetts-based Trustees of Reservations (TOR) to preserve the garden—ultimately transferring ownership to TOR. This transfer ensures a long and peaceful future for Berkeley Community Gardens. And where a collection of offices or condos could have been is a half-century-old green space where people can relax, connect, and grow together.