Re-Seeding Boston

The Boston Gardener in Dudley Square is a hot spot for urban gardeners in Boston and is revitalizing it’s surrounding neighborhood.

Thinking of gardening in the context of the Greater Boston area, many people’s minds might first gravitate towards soccer moms and parents working in the front yards of their suburban home on a weekend afternoon.

But gardening within Boston’s city limits, and in urban settings throughout the nation, is gaining increasing prevalence as a hobby, a source of food and income, and as a method of community improvement.

Opened in the Spring of 2010 by Jon Napoli, the Boston Gardener has become a leading resource and popular shop for the growing number of urban gardeners in Boston. When he opened the Boston Gardener, Jon Napoli not only had visions of his own successful small business, but aspirations that the BG would become not only a store, but an impetus for positive change in the surrounding community.

“I started the Boston Gardener because I wanted to use it as a way of giving something back to the community, and to improve the overall look of the neighborhood,” Napoli said. “Urban gardening is something more and more people are becoming interested in. The purpose of the store is to inspire people to do it, and help them be able to do it by giving them the resources they need, without having to travel to a store like Home Depot.”

Located at 2131 Washington Street in Boston’s Dudley Square Neighborhood, the BG is a convenient outpost for gardening enthusiasts living in the city. While urban gardening has been a popular urban activity long before the opening of Napoli’s store,he believes strongly that the popularity has been increasing rapidly in recent years, and will continue to do so in the years to come.

“Urban gardening is definitely becoming more and more popular, for a number of reasons. Firstly, people want to have their food grown locally, they want to grow it themselves, and they want to save money. And it’s a great way to improve the look of the neighborhood. It’s popularity is absolutely increasing. It is hard to quantify exactly, but it is definitely trending upwards.”

The Boston Gardener is a one stop shop for all kinds of gardeners. The store provides lights, equipment, plants, vegetables, soils, pest control and much, much more. Indoor and outdoor; organic and hydroponic gardeners can find all their necessities. “You need it, we got it.” quipped Napoli.

Urban gardening is also proving to be a hobby appealing more and more to younger generations. Napoli recently began using social media outlets to engage younger demographics.

“We see a lot of young people in here, but a lot of older people as well. From what I see it’s pretty much across the board. We did some stuff recently with GroupOn recently which brought in a lot of young people from Back Bay and South End,” said Napoli. “It was a pretty standard GroupOn deal, and was limited to plants and vegetables, but the response was great. “

Coming up in the next few months, Napoli stated the BG will be offering gardening classes through GroupOn where people will be able to get half-off the classes using the promotion.

Napoli has also used his store as a means of community improvement and revitalization. Around a year and a half ago, he started a project where an abandoned alley in Dudley Square was slowly transformed into a thriving urban garden.
“We converted an alley on Dade Street, which is off Washington Street in Dudley Square. Before we took it on people would use it as a bathroom, or to get high. We cleaned it up, put in a bunch of compost and soil, and turned it into an organic growing area.”

According to Napoli, the alley-garden now boasts a diverse assortment of plants, vegetables, and herbs; raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes can all be found within the garden.

The project has not only improved the aesthetics of the previous rundown neighborhood, and served as a source of food for its residents, but Napoli stated that the garden has had a positive impact
20th Anniversary on kids growing up in the surrounding buildings.

“It’s been a great experience of kids living the in the nearby buildings who get to eat food which they see grow, which is an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s an ongoing project which started about a year and a half ago.”

As the scope and popularity of urban gardening continues to increase in the coming years in Boston, Jon Napoli and the Boston Gardener will surely continue to not only serve as an extremely useful resource for gardeners; but move forward with revitalization projects much like the one on Dade Street in Dudley Square.

-Liam Cunningham






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