Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Become a sustaining member today and you'll automatically unlock $200 in challenge funds!

Yardwork: A bitter melon grows in Boston

Some people see something special happening at The Berkeley Community Garden in Boston’s South End: a multicultural gardening community built from the rubble of a demolished city block, a green oasis of Chinese plants like bitter melon that’s been cultivated here for more than half a century.

But others? Well, all they see is a trash pile.

In this final installment of Yardwork, a summer yard and garden miniseries from Outside/In, we bring you the story of how a predominantly immigrant community garden is shaping the built environment even as gentrification has threatened its existence.

Featuring: Arlene Ng, Kim Szeto, Chun Lee, Sue Fong Lee, Helen Ng, Fanny, Ada, Sarah Hutt, John McLachlan, Jeremy Liu, Betsy Johnson, Ann McQueen, Valerie Burns

Listen to Yardwork part one: Lawn and Order

Listen to Yardwork part two: Gardening is heavy metal

“Harvest 1, 2, 3 (Fuzzy Melon)” ⓒ Ann McQueen, published with permission

Further reading

Official Berkeley Community Garden Website

Adversity Can Help A Garden To Grow (NYTimes)

Berkeley Community Gardeners Master Growing...Up (WBUR)

The Trustees of Reservations now owns and manages the Berkeley Community Garden. But many organizations have supported the garden through the decades, including:

Mel King was instrumental in making community gardens in Boston possible. In 1974 he sponsored the MA Gardening and Farm Act, which passed into law and allowed people to farm and garden on vacant public land. He was honored in 2021 by then acting mayor of Boston, Kim Janey.

Gardener holding a Chinese bottle gourd.
Photo © Ann McQueen, published with permission.
Gardener holding a Chinese bottle gourd.

Outside/In is a show where curiosity and the natural world collide. Click here for podcast episodes and more.
Felix Poon first came to NHPR in 2020 as an intern, producing episodes for Outside/In, Civics 101, and The Second Greatest Show on Earth. He went to work for Gimlet Media’s How to Save a Planet before returning in 2021 as a producer for Outside/In. Felix’s Outside/In episode Ginkgo Love was featured on Spotify's Best Podcasts of 2020.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.