Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lowell Gardens Together


By Stephanie Francis
Gordon College News Service
April 24, 2013
(This article appeared April 25, 2013, in the Boston Globe, Chelmsford Your Town Site.)

Lowell, MA – Suzanne Frechette, 51, volunteered with the Coalition for a Better Acre a year before she was offered a job with them as deputy director.

On behalf of volunteer week, Frechette will join dozens from the community and from the Coalition for a Better Acre for its first “Sowing the Seeds of Community Garden Build Out Day” on Saturday, April 27. The event will take place in four garden sites in Lowell, MA. The organization is teaming up with three others to turn four vacant lots into community gardens.

“Volunteers will have the opportunity to build something beautiful that originally isn’t so beautiful,” said Frechette.

The Coalition for a Better Acre is a non-profit organization that works to better neighborhoods in Lowell through community development. They build housing, provide economic development, and work to improve voter registration.

The non-profit was one of sixteen to be awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA) to complete a project, according to Shana Lothrop, 27, the Massachusetts Volunteer Coordinator, one of MSA’s biggest initiatives is to create service opportunities.


“They (Coalition for a Better Acre) really touched all the elements that we are looking for,” said Lothrop. “They celebrate the power of volunteerism by bringing diverse residents of Lowell together.”

The Coalition hopes that theevent will strengthen the community and be a learning experience in Lowell; Frechette says that they hope to build team work and teach volunteers about gardening as well as work with those who might not speak the same language.  

According to Frechette, 150 volunteers including Africans, Portuguese, Burmese, and Cambodians have signed up to volunteer.

“Volunteers are able to plant crops from (their) home that they might not be able to get in the States,” said Frechette. “That way they are able to add native crops to their diet.”

Of the sixteen grantees many are located in the western region of Massachusetts, or in the Greater Boston area. The Coalition is the only organization on the North Shore that was awarded a grant for their project idea. According to Lothrop, though, the Massachusetts Service Alliance is trying to reach different geographical locations in Massachusetts.  

“People are helping people,” said Frechette. “But they are also helping themselves.” 

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