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Garden Club grows its civic projects, produce for area food pantries

Posted by Sarah Favot  July 19, 2011 10:00 AM

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For 15 years, Norwood Evening Garden Club members have been working to beautify several areas of town, including the gardens at the Fred Holland Day House, the traffic islands in Guild Square, and the entrance to Hawes Pool Park, and they have recently begun an effort to donate produce they grow to local food pantries.

The club’s 64 members are each assigned to a Civic Beautification Project that includes watering and weeding the gardens that have been designed by the club at six sites in the town, said publicity chairwoman Donna Lane.  

Lane said she is proud of a five-year beautification project along a 234-foot plot in front of the fence at the Hawes Pool Park on Washington Street. The project began in 2001 and was funded with support from an Andrew Boch Betterment Fund award, Dedham Savings, and a South Norwood businessman. 

Lane, a professional garden designer, designed the Hawes Pool Park garden with a budget of about $5,000. 

She said she designed the garden so it could be self-sustaining, because it is a difficult area to water; she said club members bring hoses to the garden to water.  

“Everything is pretty happy here,” Lane said in an interview as she inspected the garden, which includes a Russian olive tree, ogon spirea, and climbing hydrangeas that grow along the wire mesh fence.

Lane said she has designed a garden plan for the George H. Morse House on Washington Street in South Norwood where planting will begin in the fall.  

One of the club’s recent projects is a “Plant-a-Row” project, in which produce grown from plots managed by the club at a community farm at Adams Farm in Walpole will be donated to food pantries in Norwood, Walpole, and Dedham, the Abundant Table in Norwood, and Rosie’s Place in Boston. 

Last year, the club donated more than 10,000 pounds of produce. 

Member Tracy Firth spearheaded the effort, part of a national program against hunger launched by the Garden Writers Association in 1995. 

Firth organizes the schedule to water, weed, and pick crops at the club’s plot, which includes eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. She also is accepting donations from gardeners who would like to donate vegetables to the effort, especially vegetables that grow in abundance, like cherry tomatoes and zucchini. 

“Those over-achieving plants make a huge difference in the lives of our neighbors who need help with their groceries,” she said in a press release.

The club membership has been growing and has taken on new projects, but Lane said it has probably reached its capacity for new sites. 

“We have probably reached saturation point as far as the number of sites we have to maintain, with the Morse house on the books,” she said. 

Lane said club members range from beginner gardeners to master gardeners and horticulturalists, and reside in Norwood, Walpole, Canton, Westwood, Dedham, Stoughton, Randolph, and Medfield. 

Sarah Favot can be reached at

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