BUG garden giveaway plans revealed this week

October 19, 2007
By

JOHN RUCH

SOUTHWEST CORRIDOR—Boston Urban Gardeners (BUG) is proposing to transfer the Southwest Corridor Community Farm gardens to the Boston Natural Area Network (BNAN), while giving others away to a controversial Dorchester gardening group and establishing a major gardening fund, according to documents released by upstart BUG activists this week.

The Dorchester deal is apparently poised to go through, and local activists will hold a public meeting next month in that neighborhood.

BUG is a defunct non-profit that was once a pioneer of urban gardening, operating from a Chestnut Avenue headquarters next to the Community Farm. It went dormant in 2000.

Since then, the original BUG board has been sitting on the garden properties and more than $400,000, repeatedly promising to give it all away but never pulling it off.

Last year, gardeners and other concerned activists, now known as “Group B,” declared themselves the authentic BUG by holding an annual meeting and electing board members, which the original board apparently hasn’t done for years.

While the coup failed, Group B remains influential and has become the public face of the twin organization.

The proposals, dated Sept. 11 and reportedly still current, were released this week by Group B, which is concerned with most elements of the possible deals.

Under one proposal issued by the original BUG board, BNAN will take over the Community Farm and contribute $75,000 to upgrading it.

In addition, BUG proposes using $275,000 to establish a BUG Community Garden Fund to provide grants and loans to any Boston community garden. The proposal invites BNAN to administer the fund.

In a separate proposal, BUG offers six properties in Dorchester, along with $50,000, to Dorchester Gardenlands Preserve (DGP). The transfer would permit DGP to sell one of the properties if it is unviable as a garden.

Group B member Greg Murphy said he understands that the DGP deal is about to be approved.

Group B reportedly suggested BNAN’s possible involvement and supports that part of the proposals. It disagrees with virtually every other aspect.

Rather than a citywide fund, Group B argues that BUG funds should go to improve its own gardens first, which reportedly are suffering neglect.

There is also concern about DGP, which is coming out of its own quasi-dormancy and has a history involving controversial land transfers. Group B and Dorchester activists have organized a Nov. 3 meeting in that neighborhood about the possible transfer. [See JP Agenda.]

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