Green Thumbs keep West Concord in bloom

By Sabrina Haber

How many times have you driven through West Concord in the summer months and noticed women and men working in the five beautiful roadside gardens and wondered who they were?

We are all members of the West Concord Green Thumbs (WCGT). We are a non- profit, community service group dedicated to the beautification of West Concord Village through gardening projects – development, maintenance, and improvements. Our motto is flowers, fun, and friendship.

The West Concord Green Thumbs was started in 2008 by three local residents, Helene Clayton, Dorrie Kehoe, and Caroline McCloy, but since becoming incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2012, we have grown to over 70 members. In collaboration with Concord Public Works, as well as local business, organizations, and individuals, the WCGT has designed, built, and planted five streetside gardens in West Concord. In addition to tending these small gems, we also plant over 40 summer hanging baskets along Main Street and Commonwealth Avenue in West Concord, which are then primarily cared for by the clients of Minute Man Arc. The WCGT have always aimed to draw support from all parts of our West Concord Village: residents, businesses, and government.

The first garden was created in 2008 outside the Fowler Branch Library, followed by the development of the World War II “Kenny Dunn Memorial Garden” at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Lawsbrook Road. Then came the small triangular “Crest Street” garden, which is cared for despite the lack of any immediate water supply. In some cases, substantial clean-up preceded the initial garden development. Caroline McCloy remembers how she and Nancy Kerr cleaned piles of trash out from behind the railroad tracks on Commonwealth Avenue, making it possible, later, for the new “Mandrioli Mini- Park” to appear. Most recently, the WCGT worked collaboratively for several years with local government (Concord Public Works), state government (MBTA), and many local businesses, to help plan, plant, and now maintain “Junction Park,” between the West Concord shopping mall and the Depot. This lovely mini-oasis is now enjoyed by residents, commuters, and anyone traveling along the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

The five gardens and the hanging baskets beautify our village center every spring, summer, and fall. The West Concord Green Thumbs know well how true it is that “many hands make light work.” While much effort is needed to produce beauty throughout the six-month growing season, we also know, from first hand experience, that beyond flowers, being a part of these collaborative efforts is rewarding and fosters lifelong friendships.

Our gardening year begins in the spring, when we hold a wake-up/clean-up day at each garden to begin to showcase these little gems of West Concord. The work continues as older plantings are pruned, divided, and moved, and new plants are added. Then, throughout the summer, a rotating roster of volunteers maintain the gardens, keeping them watered, weeded, and looking gorgeous. As the days shorten, we again come together
for the fall cleanup, and put the gardens to rest for winter.

WCGT members enjoy the special appreciation and pride that comes with beautifying West Concord through gardening. As an ever-growing organization, we always look forward to welcoming new members to participate in the upcoming season! If you are interested in joining or have questions, please go to our website at www. westconcordgreenthumbs.org or send an email to info@WestConcordGreenThumbs. org. As always, no experience is necessary to become a member, for you can be paired up with an experienced member during your maintenance work. Please join us as we freely share both gardening tips and our community spirit. We hope you will come and join us.

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