Healey Library's New Website

The library has a new website! The new URL is http://www.umb.edu/library. Starting Friday, August 26 access to the library's old website will automatically redirect you to the new site. If you experience any problems or wish to provide feedback, please contact library.support@umb.edu.

Boston Urban Gardeners : Records, 1976-1989


34 cartons, oversize plans


The records of the Boston Urban Gardeners were given to the University of Massachusetts Boston Archives in April 1990 by BUG.


Boston Urban Gardeners (BUG) began in 1976 as a voluntary association of community leaders and garden organizers from the South End, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, and quickly grew into a staffed organization with a number of funding sources. The belief that "...urban gardening contributes significantly to good mental health and nutrition, urban neighborhood vitality, aesthetics, and environmental enhancement..." led BUG to serve as a resource for and to work on a variety of projects with people in low income communities throughout the Boston area. BUG also worked with the Boston Housing Authority, Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture, and other government and community organizations. In 1990, BUG merged with the Southwest Corridor Community Farm, an organization with similar goals and complementary strengths, and became Boston Urban Gardeners at the Community Farm. For further historical information, consult the descriptions accompanying each series in the Scope and Content file.

Scope and Content

These records consist of files kept by BUG's project and regular staff and include annual and other reports, newsletters, minutes, proposals, correspondence, material published by BUG, flyers, clippings, contracts, and plans. This collection also includes files from two separate organizations: South End Garden Project, and the Massachusetts Food and Agriculture Coalition (MassFAC).

The collection is divided into 32 series, based on information BUG staff provided about the contents of each box. For each series there is a description of the project, organization or segment, and a scope and content note, accompanied by a folder list. The description and scope and content notes are reproduced in this introductory section. At the end of the finding aid, there is an alphabetical index to the series. Researchers should request material by folder, series (roman numeral), and carton number.

Although each series of this collection provides information about a particular project or the work of a specific staff member, researchers should browse the entire finding aid for pertinent information as there is much overlap from series to series. In addition to the publications series, reports and other material published by BUG appear throughout the collection. A publications index will be produced once the entire collection is processed.

Virtually all folder headings were taken from those on the original files.

A complete series list is available on this website. The following are scope and content notes all of the series.

Corporate and governance (42ff) contains by-laws, and other corporate papers, and agendas, minutes, reports, attendence lists, notes, and correspondence from annual meetings, board of directors, executive committee, and other meetings, 1977-89. The annual meeting files were often labeled by the year preceding the actual meeting date. For more meeting minutes, see the Early Subject Files series.

Executive director (105ff) includes reports, agendas, minutes, correspondence, articles, proposals, and notes kept by Charlotte Kahn between 1976 and 1989. Kahn was a part-time staff member and co- director of the South End Garden Project (see SEGP series). She became a BUG staff member in 1978, was co-director in 1979, and assumed the responsibilities of executive director in 1980.

These files document the early history of SEGP and BUG, and Kahn's work on several BUG projects. They also provide information about her service, usually on behalf of BUG, on committees of several related organizations and task forces, and with Roxbury Community College. Evidence of CK's work appears throughout the collection; for her correspondence, especially see the Administrative and General Information Files series.

Administrative (53ff) contains minutes, correspondence, reports, proposals, photographs, contracts, and leases, regarding general administration, work on a booklet, personnel, insurance, etc., kept by office staff, 1980-90. For more correspondence and staff meeting minutes, see the General Information Files series.

Foundations and other funding sources (120ff) is divided, as it was arranged by BUG, into four subseries: proposals not funded, 1977- 81; proposals funded, 1977-80; foundations (in alphabetical order); and Community Development Block Grants.

These files contain correspondence, proposals, contracts, and reports that document BUG's ideas and projects. The original order of the folders was maintained. Some of the proposals filed as "proposals funded" may not have been funded. Some of the grant proposals included in this series may be for BUG projects that form a separate series of the collection. Other grant proposals appear throughout the collection.

Media (35ff). BUG collected press releases and newspaper clippings about BUG activities in the Media series.

The series consists of press releases, newspaper clippings and reprint articles about BUG. The series covers the years 1977-89. Additional material originally in the Media series now comprises the Subject clippings series.

Newsletters. The BUG, began as a bimonthly in 1977, and soon became a quarterly publication. It usually contained a letter from the president, summaries of BUG coalition activities, meeting notices, garden news, and tips. Once a year the newsletter often included a Gardeners Resource Guide.

These newsletters were originally housed in notebooks.

Publications published by BUG and not contained in other series are in this series. If the records of the project that prepared a publication comprises its own series, the publication should appear in that series. A comprehensive list of all publications may be compiled at a later date.

The publications are currently in Boxes 10 and 41.

Advocacy (61ff) was an important part of BUG's work. It entailed work with government agencies and with other organizations. One of BUG's advocacy priorities was promoting open space in the Boston area. BUG was particularly active in the Boston Green Space Alliance. Executive Director Charlotte Kahn was on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management, Division of Planning and Development's Technical Advisory Committee for the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP/TAC) in the mid-1980s. BUG collected publications from gardening organizations and public agencies across the United States, most dealing with open space issues.

This series consists of minutes, agendas, newsletters, reports, publications, and correspondence, dating from 1970-89, that document BUG's advocacy work and reflecting information BUG collected from other organizations. There is related published material in the City Planning Documents and Contextual Studies series.

South End Garden Project (25ff). SEGP began in 1976 with a number of volunteers and funds from several sources, and created six community vegetable gardens. The project became an organization of gardeners and staff members, and continued to receive grants and maintain and develop area gardens until at least 1986. Although SEGP was a separate organization, these files were transferred with BUG's (probably as a result of Charlotte Kahn's concurrent work for both), and remain part of this collection.

This series includes correspondence, proposals, reports, and notes, and documents SEGP's efforts between 1976 and 1980. See also CK's notebook in Executive Director series.

Massachusetts Food and Agriculture Coalition (14ff). MassFAC, a ". . .state-wide rural-urban coalition of individuals and organizations acting to revitalize the food and agriculture system in Massachusetts," began in August 1979. Patt Libby, BUG's representative to MassFAC, was on the board of directors through 1982. In 1981 it hired Michael Scully as a fundraiser and lobbiest.

These files were apparently kept by both Scully and Libby and document MassFAC's fundraising and advocacy work from its inception into 1983. Some duplicative files were discarded.

Lead in the soil (39ff). BUG's involvement in educating people about how to reduce the risks of heavy metals, in both outdoor and indoor environments, took a number of forms. In 1978, the National Association for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) granted BUG funds to write a handbook on heavy metals. Changing policies at NCAT later required BUG to focus on technical issues, not health and advocacy. As a result, only a poster, pamphlet, and flyer (see #12), none approaching the original length of the handbook, were finally published in 1981. BUG began a Toxicity Task Force in 1977 and joined the Ad Hoc Task Force on Heavy Metals with the Suffolk County Extension Service, the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture, and other groups. The task force, and some BUG staff members, worked on a soil testing project and prepared instructions for soil testing and safe gardening.

Some background material, including articles, newsletters, pamphlets, and clippings from organizations, state and federal government, and scholarly and popular periodicals was discarded. This series consists of BUG's staff files which document their work on the handbook and with the task force as well as the dangers of lead and other heavy metals, 1976- 83, 1985.

Compost (37ff). BUG began work on Project HUMUS (Help Us Make Urban Soil) in 1978 with the Division of Land Use of the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture. After the two organizations administered a feasibility study in 1978, they used funds from the New England Regional Commission to construct a composting demonstration project. In 1980 BUG used the summary of the pilot project, a business plan prepared by a consultant, and a grant from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) to try to secure funds to create a large-scale urban composting facility which would provide humus for community gardens and a clean way to dispose of waste. In 1983, and perhaps earlier, BUG ran a small compost facility in Hyde Park.

This series contains BUG's compost project staff's files which document the project, 1978-1982. Background material, including articles, newsletters, pamphlets, and clippings from organizations, state and federal government, equipment and other companies, and scholarly and popular periodicals was discarded.

Revival gardens (46ff). In 1979, BUG got some CDBG (probably year IV) monies to work on an on-going project to restore a number of city gardens. Their work was part of the City of Boston's Revival Program, begun in 1975, to revitalize vacant land by selling it to homeowners, establishing community "victory" gardens, and distributing garden permits. BUG conducted a needs assessment of 31 Revival gardens, provided "... technical assistance to the City of Boston for preparation of a contract bid document to cover major repairs..." to the gardens, gave in- garden workshops, and otherwise helped improve the gardens (see #2).

This series contains reports, correspondence, maps, and resource material, that dates from 1976-81, and that BUG used to administer this project, 1979-80. It was originally boxed with the Emerald City and Model Gardens Projects.

Emerald city (10ff). In 1979, BUG received Community Development Block Grant Year V monies from the City of Boston to "...maintain and beautify all existing Revival gardens, to create as many new gardens as possible in cooperation with local gardening groups in the Target neighborhoods of Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and the South End, to create pilot demonstration projects...and to support the economy and vitality of Boston's neighborhoods..." by purchasing materials and services locally. Jamaica Plain was later dropped from the project.

This series contains proposals, correspondence and other material BUG staff created and collected to run the project, 1979-81. It was originally boxed with the Revival Gardens and Model Gardens projects.

Model garden (9ff). BUG used a Community Development Block Grant (year VI), from the City of Boston in 1981, to choose and help develop or improve six diverse gardens. Each garden would exemplify a number of techniques and materials and, hopefully, inspire others to start their own.

This series contains proposals, correspondence, a pamphlet published by BUG, and other material dating from 1980-81. The series documents the project, which took place in 1981, and was originally boxed with the Revival Gardens and Emerald City projects.

Garden resource organizing and education staff (107ff) worked on a variety of projects. Under the rubric of Project GRO, BUG helped form and maintain community gardens, and later served as an advocate for the permancy of such gardens. BUG provided gardeners with information and advice; delivered seeds, compost, and other goods and served as a conduit for in-kind donations; did fundraising; and completed a number of projects (e.g. landscape repair or design) for specific community or school gardens. Much of BUG's original GRO work was done through Community Development Block Grant funds. GRO files comprise three additional series in this collection (Revival Gardens Project, Emerald City Project, and Model Gardens Project), and appear in the Executive Director and other series. Because Project GRO was at the core of BUG's work, most of the series in this collection relate to the project.

BUG's work with the Boston Youth Conservation Corps, and to some extent the Landscape Skills Job Training Program, provided environmental education while simultaneously providing direct services to community and other gardens. BYCC files also appear in the Executive Director and the Boston Housing Authority series. The Landscape Skills Job Training Program files make up another series in this collection.

These files appear to have been inherited, created, or maintained by Julie Stone, one of BUG's staff members in charge of garden organizing and education projects since 1985. The files contain correspondence, minutes, notes, schedules, proposals, reports, articles, and other material relating to BUG's support of gardens and gardeners, environmental education, and various garden projects. This series is divided roughly into garden organizing (#1-56), job training and education (#57-75), other specific garden projects (#76-92), work with other organizations (#93- 95), fundraising and donations (#96-106), and miscellaneous clippings (#107).

Although there is material dating from as early as the 1950s, this series documents BUG's work, 1979-89, particularly 1985-89. A large file of material from Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, Technical Advisory Committee (SCORP/TAC) was moved to the Advocacy/Green Space Coalition series. The folder titles were almost all BUG's.

Boston Housing Authority (94ff). From 1983 through 1985, BUG had three contracts with the BHA, worked with the Boston Youth Conservation Corps in BHA developments in 1986, and began an annual BHA Gardeners and Garden Lovers Contest in 1983 (#78-85). In the spring of 1983 BUG began a two year contract with the Boston Housing Authority to encourage vegetable and flower gardening in 35 family and senior citizen public housing developments (#1-63). BUG helped BHA tenants test the soil, get fertilizer and seeds and seedlings, and plant flowers and vegetables in existing and new gardens. The Massachusetts Fruition Program provided some of the plants.

The BHA awarded BUG a second contract for the summer of 1984 for the Landscape Improvement, Beautification and Training Program, also called "Landscape Rehabilitation and Maintenance" (#60-77). The project staff, which included BHA tenants, worked with tenants and managers to install plants, flowers, and pedestrian paths in three public housing family developments: Franklin Hill, Washington-Beech, and Whitter Street.

The third BHA contract began in 1985 and was essentially an extension of the first contract, but incorporated some aspects of the landscape improvement project (#1-63). That contract was to provide gardening and beautification services to 23 senior and family housing developments across the city.

In 1986, BUG received funding from Action for Boston Community Development to develop materials and train supervisors for Boston Youth Conservation Corps, which employed youth for work in housing developments over the summer (#92-94).

The files, kept by project staff, include proposals, budgets, contracts, correspondence and reports, and are arranged, roughly, by contract. Almost all folder titles were BUG's. Folder titles in quotation marks were BUG's, but required additional explanation. The material in this series dates from 1983 into 1987.

BUG treated the third BHA contract as an extension of the first and referred to both as "BHA Gardening" (#1-60). The files BUG used for the BHA Gardening contracts that are organized by housing development (#15- 56) contain contracts, correspondence, clippings, contest entries, newsletters, photographs, completed Boston Public Housing Tenants Policy Council and other surveys, logs of work done, and copies of portions of the BHA's 1979 report (#82-84). The files were numbered. Those files containing material on developments serving families were marked "f" and senior citizen developments were marked "s."

Nesenkeag farmstand (60ff). The farmstand project, a joint effort between BUG and the Nesenkeag Urban/Rural Farm Cooperative, began in 1983. The Nesenkeag Farm, in Litchfield, New Hampshire, was founded in 1982 by BUG board member Bill McElwain, to provide food to low income people in the Boston area and as a place for urban people to enjoy rural agricultural life and work. Although BUG helped recruit volunteer farmers, and BUG staff and board members were on the Farm's board, these records (with the exception of #1-2) only document the farmstand project. In 1983, with the help of some grant monies, BUG developed an at-cost distribution system and set up tenant- managed weekly markets at public housing developments and other neighborhood-based agencies. The Farmstand Project participated in the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture's Farmers Market Coupon Program, and accepted food stamps. In 1987, BUG distributed or sold 51,000 pounds of fresh produce to food programs and to farmstands serving low- and moderate-income people. The Nesenkeag Farmstand spawned the "Yes We Can" Project (see #29) and BUG's involvement in the Scollary Square Farmers' Market, each of which has its own series of records in this collection.

The folder titles, with few exceptions, were BUG's. BUG project staff classified the files by the years in which the files were used, 1988, 1987, and 1986 and before (reverse chronological order). Although many files used in one year contain material from previous or following years, this arrangement has been maintained, but placed in chronological order. The records in this series date from 1982 through 1989 and document six years of the farmstand, 1983-88.

Landscape Skills Training Program (163ff). Planning for BUG's LSTP began in 1983 after completion of a landscaping program in several public housing developments (see BHA series). The first program was funded in January 1984 by the City of Boston's Neighborhood Development and Employment Agency (NDEA), which later became the Mayor's Office for Jobs and Community Service (JCS). Federal Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), and perhaps Comprehensive Education Training Act (CETA), monies were also used.

LSTP provided classroom instruction and on the job training in landscape construction and management for low-income Boston residents. BUG recruited students through Boston Housing Authority developments and a variety of community organizations. Students took the courses for credit through Roxbury Community College (RCC) in the spring semester (February-May). A BUG/RCC proposal based on LSTP's success led the Massachusetts Board of Regents to establish an associates degree in Urban Environmental Studies at RCC (see Executive Directors series). During the on the job training portion of LSTP, students helped BUG complete many of its landscape contracts. Each program year, called a "cycle," covered the fiscal year (July-June).

This series contains contracts, correspondence, budgets, student files, articles and other material dating from 1973 through 1988 (bulk, 1984- 88), and documents the first five cycles of the LSTP. This series also includes minutes and correspondence regarding the Green Industry Council (#). Most of the folder titles were BUG's. The files are divided, as, for the most part, they were found: by cycle. Most BUG forms completed by every student (e.g. application and agreement forms), JPTA, CETA, and JCS forms containing personal information about students, and time sheets contained in the student and other files were discarded. Related material may be found in the Executive Director, Boston Housing Authority, and Project Gro series, as well as in series containing files for projects that LSTP students helped complete.

South East Asian Training Program (9ff). In 1985, BUG was a sub-contractor for the second year of the International Institute of Boston's South East Asian Training Program. The City of Boston Neighborhood Development and Employment Agency funded the program through the Targeted Assistance Grant Program. BUG called its portion of the work the "Interior Plant Care Program for Refugees/Entrants," a job training and placement program that lasted for 17 weeks. Although BUG was dissatified with some aspects of the program, it led to their Senior Park Maintenance and Interior Landscape Training Program (see series by that name).

This series includes a proposal, correspondence, and curricular material dating from 1980-85 and documenting BUG's portion of the 1985 SEATP.

Senior Park Maintenance and Interior Landscape Training Program (52ff) also referred to as the Elder Parks and Grounds Keeper Training Program, grew out of BUG's work with the International Institute of Boston's South East Asian Training Program (see SEATP series). In 1986 the Mayor's Office of Jobs and Community Service sponsored the plant care program for low-income Boston seniors. Some funding came through the federal Job Training Partnership Act. The program entered a second phase in July when P&L Sportswear in East Boston laid off a number of Chinese employees. BUG added an ESL component to the curriculum and incorporated the Chinese students into the program. The Mayor's Office of Jobs and Community Service also funded BUG's landscape training programs, the records of which form another series of this collection.

The material in this series includes proposals, correspon-dence, printed articles, student records, and a few reports, which dates from 1980 through 1987, but documents BUG's 1986 Senior Program, including its Chinese students component. The folder titles, with some modifications, and most cumulative headings, were BUG's. BUG's arrangement of the files was maintained (see #1). A set of duplicate records in folders with duplicate headings was discarded.

South End study (63ff) BUG began its South End study in June 1986 when the Boston Redevelopment Authority, as part of its South End Neighborhood Housing Initiative (SENHI) process, asked BUG to assess the South End's open space needs. Community concern about SENHI may have prompted the request. BUG's analysis of census information and community needs and preferences (presented in its 1988 report "South End Open Space Needs Assessment," see #6-11) was to be used to plan for the locations and types of open space and for zoning decisions in the area. Most of BUG's work took place in 1987.

This series consists of reports, maps, surveys, census information, drafts, and photographs that BUG used to prepare its report, as well as clippings, agendas, correspondence, and mailing lists from BUG and community groups' work with the BRA, 1986-89. Some of the reports BUG collected date from 1959 and the early 1980s.

"Yes We Can" (7ff). The "Yes We Can" project grew out of conversations with people who used the Nesenkeag Farmstands (see the Nesenkeag Farmstand series of this collection, particularly #29). The project, which began in 1987, was to bring together a resource group of low-income residents to discuss hunger and related problems, to design and implement solutions, and to publicize the group's existence and work. One result was the "Yes We Can Cookbook" (#4). One larger purpose of the project was to connect various facets of BUG's work by exploring ways BUG could improve the quality of life in low-income comunities through more than the physical environment.

This series contains proposals, correspondence, workshop materials, a cookbook, and other material that documents two phases of the "Yes We Can" project, 1987-88.

Cambridge Housing Authority (23ff). In 1987 BUG's work with the CHA included landscape design, beautification, staff training and production of a Landscape Maintenance Manual and "CHA Plant Catalog." In 1988, at the CHA's request, BUG helped implement improvements, did further staff training, evaulated work at all 29 CHA sites, and completed a tool inventory. At some point BUG "whited-out" all references to the CHA in the manual, apparently so that other public housing authorities could use it. BUG's work on the manual probably led to their later work with The Venture for Quality Public Housing, for which BUG prepared a "Landscape Manual for Administrators" and "The Lanscape Manual for On- Site Personnel," published in 1989.

This series contains manuals, scope of services, correspondence, completed inventories, photographs, and other material that documents BUG's work with the CHA, 1987-88. Most folder titles were BUG's.

Scollay Square Farmer's Market (39ff). In April 1988, based on BUG's experience running the Nesenkeag Farmstands, the Massachusetts Food and Agriculture Department asked BUG to be the organizational sponsor for what became the Scollay Square Farmer's Market on the City Hall Plaza at Government Center. BUG agreed and the two-day-a-week market opened in mid-July. The Scollay Square market replaced the Copley Square Farmer's Market that year because Copley Square was undergoing renovations. The following year BUG was asked to operate both markets. It appears, however, that they continued to operate the Scollay Square market, but not the Copley Square market. The farmers' market was funded by Project Bread and the Bank of Boston. In addition to the Department of Food and Agriculture, BUG worked with the Massachusetts Federation of Farmers' Markets.

This series is arranged chronologically and contains correspondence, agreements, accounts, and other material that document BUG's sponsorship of the Scollay Square Farmers' Market and near-sponsorship of the Copley Square Farmers' Market, 1988-89. Most of the folder titles were BUG's. Car insurance information was removed from the files organized by farmer (#11-27).

Abutter Lots Handbook (11ff). BUG staff worked on an Abutter Lots Handbook in 1989, and perhaps 1988, with funding from the City of Boston's Public Facilities Department. The Abutter Lots Program, administered by the Public Facilities Department was "... to sell City- owned, non-developable vacant lots to home or business owners whose property [was] next to those lots."

This series includes material from the City, a budget proposal, advertising and other background information, and drafts of portions of the handbook, 1989, n.d. Although BUG attributed work on the handbook with the year 1988, it appears it was done in 1989.

Miscellaneous and assorted landscape design and other projects contains files from a number of BUG projects. The files have not yet been processed, and are currently housed in boxes 59, 8, 11, 28, 51, 58, 32, and 42.

Early subject files (9ff) were kept in two notebooks and a few loose folders. This series includes newsletters, clippings, articles, minutes, proposals, and by-laws, 1976-79. The notebooks were divided by subject. Although someone at BUG collected most of the material from related organizations, some was created by BUG, most notably the early BUG minutes in #3.

Subject clippings (38ff). BUG collected press releases and newspaper clippings about activities and topics related to BUG in the Media series. Due to the divergent nature of that series, the processor divided it into the media and subject clippings series.

The series consists of clippings and publications on topics of interest to BUG. The subject file is alphabetical and covers the years 1977-89.

General information files were kept by BUG. They include correspondence, articles, and other material.

City planning documents and contextual studies. Bug collected and used these documents and studies in all stages of its work. A listing will be prepared. They are currently in boxes 21, 47 and 30, and on the shelf.

Plans. There are a number of oversize plans for sites for which BUG did landscape or other work. The plans have not yet been processed.


Series descriptions are in the "Scope and content" file. The 31 series in this collection are organized as follows:

    I. Governance and corporate papers (processed)
    II. Executive director (processed)
    III. Administrative (processed)
    IV. Foundations and other funding sources (processed)
    V. Media (processed)
    VI. Newsletters (processed)
    VII. Publications
    VIII. Advocacy (processed)
      Files of related organizations:
    IX. South End Garden Project (processed)
    X. Massachusetts Food and Agriculture Coalition (processed)


    XI. Lead in the soil (processed)
    XII. Compost (processed)
    XIII. Revival gardens (processed)
    XIV. Emerald city (processed)
    XV. Model garden (processed)
    XVI. Garden resource organizing and education staff (processed)
    XVII. Boston Housing Authority (processed)
    XVIII. Nesenkeag farmstand (processed)
    XIX. Landscape Skills Training Program (processed)
    XX. South East Asian Training Program (processed)
    XXI. Senior Park Maintenance and Interior Landscape Program (processed)
    XXII. South End study (processed)
    XXIII. "Yes We Can" (processed)
    XXIV. Cambridge Housing Authority (processed)
    XXV. Scollay Square Farmer's Market (processed)
    XXVI. Abuttor Lots Handbook (processed)
    XXVII. Miscellaneous and assorted landscape design and other projects

Collected resource files:

XXVIII. Early subject files (processed)
XXIX. Subject clippings (processed)
XXX. General information files
XXXI. City planning documents and contextual studies
XXXII. Plans