The 2,500-member Plymouth and South Shore Association of REALTORS® (PASS) has a strong and vital charitable arm that is accustomed to raising funds and writing checks, but this past April 16, and again on Earth Day, about twenty members couldn’t resist an opportunity to give back to the community by getting out in the fresh air and getting their hands dirty—literally.
Using a $2,500 Placemaking Micro-Grant from the REALTOR® Party, PASS members helped to build an organic community garden at the Davis-Douglas Farm site of the Wildlands Trust, a rural property in Plymouth that has been conserved and transformed into a public gathering space. Jean Sawtelle, Communications Director of PASS, explains that the idea of applying for the grant was proposed by REALTOR® Bill Keohan, who was already involved with the Wildlands Trust. Looking into the viability of the project, Sawtelle determined that it was an ideal fit for the REALTOR® Party’s Placemaking grant program, and received approval of the PASS Government Affairs Committee to submit the application.
The grant supported the construction of multiple raised garden beds, which were built over the course of two days by Wildland Trust volunteers and about 20 PASS members, including CEO Rachel Tristano and members of the Government Affairs Committee, the Community Service Committee and the newly formed Young Professionals Network. A dedicated “demonstration” bed has been built in a special educational programming area, where the public will be able to see exhibits and learn gardening skills. The remaining beds will be available for public gardening, and the community will be encouraged to donate excess produce to area food pantries.
“It’s a wonderful, inclusive garden,” reports Tristano. “It will bring together members from all segments of the community, from the elderly living in facilities without gardening spaces, to professionals living in the newer high-end career-oriented complexes without hands-on gardens, and people of all different backgrounds and abilities. One of the best features is that some of the beds are even accessible to those in wheelchairs.”
The garden is one component of a larger site that also features benches, picnic tables and a tree swing to welcome visitors to the scenic open fields and nearby complex of walking trails; a 100-seat community hall that will serve as a much-needed local gathering place is currently under construction. “The garden will be a place that produces more than just food,” says Tristano, “it will provide education and produce friendships and a sense of community.”
Sawtelle notes that the application process for the grant from the REALTOR® Party couldn’t have been easier. Now that PASS has its first placemaking project off the ground, it’s looking into others to take on, particularly for projects that will enhance the walkability of areas along Boston’s South Shore, from Quincy to Plymouth.
To learn more about how South Shore REALTORS® are making their communities greener, more inviting and more productive, contact Jean Sawtelle, Communications Director of the Plymouth and South Shore Association of REALTORS® at 781-826-5139.