Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Today I took my newly coiffed hair (some old friends didn’t recognize me, I don’t tend to post self-portraits on Facebook) and my min pin to the Mill City Grows Harvest Festival. Since its Back Central location isn’t far from where I live, it was hard to think of an excuse not to.
I’m really glad I did, because I was pretty amazed at what they’ve accomplished in its first year. Using the synergy in the City Manager’s neighborhood initiative as well as the know-how and talent of its founders, Mill City Grows took a blighted park area, where nightly criminal activity plagued police and residents alike, and turned it into a space where area residents - most without growing space of their own - could pay a reasonable $15 per plot to have a space to grow…well, whatever they want.
One comment from Assistant CM DPD head Adam Baacke, was to remark that what was amazing about the project was how much it created and grew a sense of community. (That’s paraphrased, he was way more eloquent.) It also is attractive to our many immigrant communities, who left home gardens and farms behind when they came to our city. Besides the garden plots, renewal of community use of the space, and elimination of the blight and hence most criminal activity, Mill City Grows has also brought in bright and colorful artwork ringing the inside of the secure fencing in the garden area. Many of the raised beds sported signs and decorations of their own.
Despite the morning mist and gray skies (though no rain fell at the festival itself), the turnout was high and the cheerfulness of the crowd was palpable. I was amazed to find a lot of the people involved in the project were friends of mine. Even though I’ve heard bits and pieces all summer about this project, it could be the best kept secret this last summer in Lowell.
What’s even better is MCG is going to bring this model and idea to other areas of the city - Centralville, the Acre, and the Lower Highlands - there being a scheduled vision session and site cleanup coming up on October 20th for the latter.
EDIT: more at Room 50! With better pictures.
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