February 24, 2011
Conversation with Ming Wei Nagasawa, community gardener, David Price, Executive Director of Nuestra Communidad Development Corporation, and Michael Chavez, Program and Design Manager at the Designery, YouthBuild Boston
By Alli Axelrod
1. Tell us a little about you and how you connected to your delegation?
David: We operate GrandFamilies. It’s an intergenerational housing community providing homes for grandparents raising grandkids. Nuestra started a garden just near GrandFamilies. With lots of transitions the garden fell into disrepair. We were all looking for a way to revitalize it. So we came together with YouthBuild Boston and Boston Architectural College to create this garden.
Michael: I’m a grad student at Boston Architectural College and working for YouthBuild Boston. I will be helping to design the Generations of Hope Community Garden. YouthBuild will also hold training sessions with youth to talk about plant care and organic food growing. We have signed on for three years.
Ming: I live with my husband and two kids right next door to the community garden. GrandFamilies is in back of us. The garden was formerly the site of two empty lots – I worked with Nuestra and then Michael to rebuild the garden.
2. What made you decide to become a Planting Delegation?
Ming: I want space for organic fruit and natural beauty – apple trees fit in!
David: We need all the resources we can get – We love trees, especially fruit trees. It’s a food desert in our area. We see this participation as having a positive health impact on our community in addition to being an opportunity for social engagement. Also, fruit trees are an important part of our history! This was a farming community originally. “Orchard Gardens” was the name of one of the first big housing complexes in our area because it was housed right next to an apple orchard. “Bartlett Yard” was the name of a bus depot where one of the first pear trees was grown. We want to help recall that history.
Michael: This project is a model for partnership to start renovating and improving other vacant lots. It’s a model for what we can do in the future. Being a delegation gives us this ability to connect with other organizations. We get to learn about others while also promoting what we are up to.
3. What does participating in the Boston Tree Party mean to you?
Michael: Our biggest focus is community engagement – we want the community to be the biggest part of driving this project through. The Boston Tree Party allows us to plant the seed to bring new members of the community together in a partnership.
David: Beyond immediate impact and building a network of neighbors which is vitally important, it is also a way to be part of a bigger movement for greening. This has been a tradition of the environmental movement in Boston since the late 50s early 60s and now it’s city wide! We want to be part of greening the city tree by tree.
Ming: It means having organic fruit and beautiful green space in the middle of the city and being able to connect it to the community.
4. Activity at Tree Planting Party?
Michael: A barbeque and volleyball game where the ball is an apple.
David: If it’s warm weather, we’ll do some gardening work and then have a celebration. We’re good at block parties, barbecues, and cookouts. We’ll have to have homemade apple pie, maybe even a pie baking contest.
Ming: A cook out with an apple theme. Apple bobbing and apple dessert.
5. What’s your favorite apple?
Ming: Honey Crisp
David: Brae – really delicious.
Michael: Champagne apple from Dixon Farm in New Mexico. Definitely my favorite!